22 Easy Zero-Waste Swaps That Can Save You Money

by Zunaira

For me, going low waste is about balance. Instead of trying to be perfect, I aim to do my best to educate myself and embrace the change, have patience with myself and take those baby steps to reach my goal. I invite you to join me on this journey. And if you are just starting out, here are some zero-waste swaps to begin with.

1. Reusable water bottle

Bring it wherever you go. Chances are you will probably be able to find refill stations. There are so many reasons not to use plastic water bottles: health reasons, environmental reasons, exploitation of water, and indigenous people.

2. Safety razor

This little friend will not only save you money but also save the planet because you are not giving into that disposable single-use plastic culture. Instead of buying new razors every time, you only need to buy the blades.

3. & 4. Compostable toothbrush and floss

Mine are by a vegan brand Brush With Bamboo. All plant-based bristles still contain a bit of petroleum, but they are working on 100% compostable bristles.

Reusable stainless steel tongue scraper

5. Reusable stainless steel tongue scraper

I used to use a plastic one on the other end of my toothbrush, which I had to replace from time to time. This one you can just reuse for the rest of your life, which is awesome.

6. Produce bags

I use them every time I go grocery shopping, and also for other things, like getting a sandwich from the store. Produce bags, like many other swaps on this list, can be used for many different things, so get innovative, get creative, and have fun.

7. Tote bags

You have probably already been gifted tote bags from different companies or events you have been to. Bring these to the store with you and you will never have to use plastic bags or even paper bags again.

8. Food storage containers.

I use my glass containers for almost everything. I also own a double-insulated one that holds heat or cold and is perfect for oatmeal or yogurt. However, if you have a bunch of plastic Tupperware right now, use it as long as you can. Less is more; do not feel like you have to buy new things to be sustainable.  

9. Shampoo bar and conditioner bar.

These have been game-changers for me. I do not like checking in luggage when I travel, and liquids made it necessary. With these little guys, I do fine with just my carry-on.

10. Deodorant

Most deodorant packaging is single-use, which means you cannot recycle it. Instead of loading up your armpits with synthetic fragrances and toxins and endocrine disruptors, you can just make your own, which is the cheapest, easiest, healthiest, and most eco-friendly option.

Reusing jars for your pantry

11. Pantry jars

I know you have seen beautiful pantries on Instagram with all the identical mason jars, and they do look good, but that is not the most sustainable lifestyle. Try to upcycle and reuse as much as you can. Your pantry will look all the more colorful for it.

12. Reusable menstrual cup.

I have tried a few: the Diva Cup did not really work well for my body, but the organic one has been great. However, I know not everyone is a fan of menstrual cups, so if you are not, consider period panties. You could buy those or make them yourself.

13. DIY toothpaste

My toothpaste has one of my favorite ingredients and substances on Earth, which is bentonite clay. This is an amazingly powerful substance in terms of absorbing toxins, stains, and even metals from your mouth.

Bamboo hairbrush

14. Hairbrush

Bamboo brushes have many benefits: for example, they distribute oil more evenly. I love my bamboo brush, but, again, definitely do not throw away your plastic one to buy a sustainable one. Always use what you have already.

15. Upcycled towels

There is no need for paper towels that you just use once and throw away. I personally like to use old rags or shirts.

16. Borrowing

Borrowing saves you both time and money. So long as you take good care of the items and you are a good friend to whoever you are borrowing from, you will be able to do it again. This is also a great way to save the planet because you are not putting any demand on new materials.

17. French press

We use a glass reusable one. You put the coffee grounds and hot water in, wait a few minutes, push it down, and voila, you have the coffee. Go and buy your coffee grounds in bulk. You can likely find them at your grocery store and bring them home in a produce bag.

Tea strainer

18. Tea strainer

I got this one as a gift: you put in the tea and hot water, close it up, and in minutes you have tea.

19. Bidet

I was exposed to the bidet through my culture. Using a bidet reduces the amount of toilet paper you are using, and the water is so refreshing. Definitely look into getting a bidet; they do not cost that much.  

20. Transportation

Another one of my easy zero-waste swaps is using greener ways of moving around. A bike is a great option, and so are carpooling and using public transportation. Bonus: you are not the one driving, so you can read a book or do something fun on the way.

21. Composting

I started composting at my parents’ house and now they compost, even once I have moved out. Composting will save you money on trash bills and give back to the planet.

22. Drying rack

A drying rack is great if you would like to dry your things inside or if you live in an apartment and have no deck or backyard. It saves money and is much more eco-friendly than drying machines.

Zero-waste swaps

Going low-waste might be hard in the beginning. Try starting with these 22 zero-waste swaps for beginners, and with time you will find your own way to be low-waste.

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Patricia Dominguez Patricia Dominguez on Mar 13, 2023

    I buy instant coffee and love the large glass jars from Sam's Member Coffee and the Walmart Great Value. Love the look for large storage like beans, rice, like pasta. Using Large Coffeemate Container for flours, sugars etc. Paint any color to match your look.

  • Marna Marna on Mar 14, 2023

    If you print your own matching labels or have someone do some for you, you can make your mismatched recycled jars appear to go together and look pretty spiffy. Take it a step further and paint the lids to match.

    I am a lid saver. You would be amazed at how many lids with the perforated part underneath the outside lid such as on Parmesan cheese will fit glass jars. Also, a lot of labels on jars these days are printed on plastic that can be peeled right off the container. An imoortant tip is to make sure the container you are recycling and its lid are totally dry inside before you put in dry ingredients for storing. If there is the least bit of moisture inside your container when you put in your pasta, beans, sugar, whatever, you will get caking or mold on the new ingredient..