Best Zero Waste Swaps
A comprehensive guide to everything you need to go zero waste
Table Of Contents
All purpose cleaner
Fill an old spray bottle with vinegar and water. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
All purpose disinfectant
Fill an old spray bottle with 3 cups of hot water, 3 teaspoons of borax, and 10 drops of eucalyptus, lemon, or lavender oil.
Clean a burnt frying pan
Fill pan with a layer of water, add 1 cup of vinegar, and bring to boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda (note: it will fizz). Empty the pan and clean.
First, combine 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup water in a microwavable container. Boil mixture for 3 mins and then let it stand in microwave for 10 mins. Wipe inside of microwave with a damp cloth.
Pour a little vinegar onto a rag and wipe mirror. Then, dry with a clean rag.
First, sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl. Then rinse with vinegar and scrub till clean.
Instead of buying cleaning rags wrapped in plastic, recycle old towels, flannels, and sheets that are well passed their used-by date. Cut them up, use, and wash!
Descale your kettle
Fill the kettle halfway with a solution of equal parts cold water and white vinegar, a natural descaling agent. Repeat once and dry with a cloth.
Simply add one cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle.
Shine drinking glasses
Soak in a solution of vinegar and water and dry with a cloth.
Remove rust from tins
Rub with a peeled potato dipped in baking soda or salt.
Remove rust from cutlery
Polish cutlery with a paste of baking soda and vinegar.
Remove general soap scum from shower screen
Fill an old spray bottle with vinegar and spray the screen. Leave for 3-5 mins then wipe with a clean towel, scrubbing lightly.
Remove more persistent soap scum from shower screen
For stubborn screen stains squeeze some homemade toothpaste onto a sponge and scrub.
Soak and whiten nappies
First, dissolve 1/4 cup of baking soda in warm water. Next, let the nappies soak in the solution overnight. Lastly, wash nappies as normal.
Unblock a drain
Pour 1/3 cup of baking soda into the drain followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Immediately seal the drain with a plug and leave 1 hour. Lastly, pour boiling water down the drain.
Wash dishes in a dishwasher
Mix 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of salt. Add 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the “soap/tablet” compartment of the dishwasher. Then, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the “rinse agent” compartment before starting the cycle.
Use wool dryer balls instead!
Simply use cloth napkins and load into your washing machine when dirty.
Plastic water filter
Try using an activated charcoal stick instead. To use effectively, place the stick in a glass carafe full of tap water and let it sit for several hours. The activated charcoal naturally bonds with toxins, removing contaminants like mercury, chlorine, copper, and even lead! Fortunately, it does not remove fluoride.
Use a biodegradable sponge or try crocheting your own washcloth.
Make your own homemade cleaning wipes! – Instructions here.
Use a sustainable, wooden toilet brush.
Make your own natural yogurt at home.
Make your own labne, a cheese derived from greek yogurt!
Make homemade muesli bars, a hardy and healthy snack!
Make homemade bliss balls, a nutty treat.
Try making your own ginger beer!
Store foods while grocery shopping
Store food from the bulk sections of grocery stores using glass jars, bottles, and reusable containers.
Store leftovers/extra food while eating out
Store leftovers in a bowl with plate over the top instead of using plastic wrap and freeze in heat stable glass (ex. Pyrex) at home.
Store vegetables and herbs
Store vegetables and herbs by wrapping them in damp tea towels or sealing them in glass containers.
Simply wrap sandwiches in fabric or make your own sandwich wraps using an alternative material (such as beeswax!)
To store cheese, wrap in an old linen tea towel.
Plastic wrap, tinfoil
Instead of plastic wrap or tinfoil, use a clean shower cap to cover a bowl, silicone lids, or make your own beeswax wraps.
Instead of single-use cupcake liners, use silicone liners to hold your desserts.
Try using reusable k-cups or buy a french press, no filter needed!
Similarly, a direct solution is to use a french press or you can invest in reusable hemp coffee filters.
Plastic baggies for storing food
To store food for when you are on-the-go, use a silicone stasher bag or beeswax wraps.
Try using a thermos for hot drinks or a mason jar for cold drinks when buying a cup of coffee instead of using the disposable, single-use cups most cafes provide.
Plastic produce bags
Use organic cotton produce bags or regular reusable grocery bags to carry your fruits and vegetables when shopping in the produce section or farmer’s market.
Try using reusable silicone, aluminum, glass, or bamboo straws. Note: Be cautious when giving metal or glass straws to children.
Use a tea strainer instead!
Instead of parchment paper, we suggest using reusable silicone baking mats!
Make your own deodorant from home – recipes here!
Try making your own facial scrubs at home with baking soda, cornmeal, rose almond, oatmeal, azuki bean, milk and honey, banana, honey sugar, pumpkin, or greens.
Make homemade hair rinse with tea, beer, coffee, apple cider vinegar, or vodka!
Trying making homemade shampoo that uses baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Brands like Lush are also popular zero waste-friendly options.
We suggest buying soap tablets from Blueland.com, which dissolve in water to create liquid soap!
Shaving cream and aftershave
Instead of buying plastic bottles from stores, make your own shaving cream and aftershave.
Use a reusable stainless steel or wood pick.
Make homemade mouthwash with aloe, xylitol, baking soda!
Try making this easy citrus beeswax lip balm!
Try using an organic loofah, the actual plant!
Try using a (reusable) safety razor.
Use cloth hankerchiefs and consistently wash when dirty.
This is technically a zero waste exception, but if you want to take it a step further, try using toilet paper with recycled content such as from au.whogivesacrap.org or installing a bidet.
Instead of using regular floss, which is mostly made of plastic and coated in the same material they use to coat teflon pads, try completely plastic-free silk floss.
Make your own skin cream at home.
Make your own natural sunscreen cream instead of buying sunblock at the store.
Simple! Use a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush.
Make your own toothpaste at home or try using toothpowder instead.
Use corn starch instead!
Use a sustainable, wooden hairbrush.
Make your own applicable face mask! In a small jar, mix 1 tablespoon of matcha powder or bentonite clay and 2-4 tablespoons of water. Apply to clean skin and leave for approximately 15 minutes. Finally, rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Make your own! Simply mix 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 cup of water. Experiment with the amount of ACV (up to 4 tablespoons) as the dryer your hair is, the less you should need.
General pet food
Take your own containers to the butcher and fishmonger for bones, fish and other meaty treats. To store bones or meat in bulk, first separate and freeze them on a tray. Then put them into a container in the freezer until needed.
Make your own sustainable raw dog food!
Check out this homemade chicken-and-potato zero waste cat food recipe!
Buy seeds and grains in bulk when you make a grocery shopping trip. The nifty thing is, you won’t have to stray far from where your groceries are!
Guinea pig, rabbit, and hamster food
Talk to your greengrocer or stalls at the farmers market and ask/negotiate for outer lettuce leaves, blemished and imperfect vegetables, etc.