If you’ve looked into going zero waste at all, you might be thinking that the zero waste lifestyle is super expensive.
Between buying new jars to take to the bulk food store and getting set up with a variety of “essentials” like reusable straws, stainless steel tiffins, and all organic cotton everything that used to be made of paper (yes, everything) you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Maybe your new buy-it-for-life leather wallet is begging you to stop before you even get started.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. While there are tons of great products that are catching on or enjoying fresh interest lately, they’re just nice-to-haves you can buy when you’re ready or add to your Christmas list.
At its core, the zero waste lifestyle is really about simplifying. So, when you’re going zero waste, you should really be buying less stuff in the long run, not more! Any upfront investment that you do make will pay for itself many times over.
Here are the top 4 things you’ll find yourself stop buying as soon as you go zero waste:
#1 Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles
These things just make me sad. Ever since a substitute teacher put on the Story of Stuff video about them one day in high school, I haven’t been able to look one in the eyes. Even if they did bring us endless hilarious bottle flipping videos a few years ago.
If you’re used to buying bottled water on a regular basis, this switch will surely save you money. You can get clean, tasty tap water almost anywhere in the country, right from your tap for way, way less than the cost of a single bottle.
If you want, you can even use some of those savings to get yourself a reusable water bottle. They come in all sorts of pretty styles now, some have insulation, some are guaranteed never to spill in your bag, and some can actually sterilize the water inside them so that you can fill up from anywhere!
That last feature is overkill for most of us, but you can’t go wrong with a simple vacuum bottle like this one from Cotopaxi. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. All day.
#2 Paper Towels
Paper towels are a big no-no if you’re watching your waste. Next time you’re tempted to reach for that 24 pack, take a good look and realize that every single one of those paper towels is going to end up in the trash.
A much better alternative is cloth towels that can be washed and reused. You can make them yourself just by cutting up old towels or clothes and turning them into ready-made rags. If you knit or crochet, you could even make some cloths out of that cotton yarn you’ve got hidden in your stash.
“But wait,” you may be thinking if you’ve done your homework, “can’t I compost paper towels?”
Technically yes, but practically no.
If you were throwing away just a plain ol’ paper towel straight from the roll, it wouldn’t be a problem. But paper towels that have been used to clean up grease, chemicals, and other nasty stuff can wreak havoc on your compost pile.
#3 Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets. You don’t need them.
I’ve never used one in my entire adult life and frankly, I’m not really even sure what they’re supposed to do.
Soften clothes? Reduce static?
Unfortunately, the fatty acids on dryer sheets that make your clothes feel a bit softer also make them wear out faster and become more flammable. Yikes.
If you can’t do away with the dryer additives entirely, you could switch to an in-wash fabric softener with minimal packaging like the ones from Dropps, and/or get yourself a set of wool dryer balls to reduce static as your clothes are tumbling dry. Dropps sells those too, but if you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own just by winding up some of that wool yarn I know you have in your stash and felting it.
Weather permitting, you could also dry your clothes outside and save a little energy while you’re at it!
#4 Plastic Wrap
Plastic cling wrap is good for nothing. Not only does it inevitably stick to itself before you even have a chance of convincing it to stick to whatever it is you actually want it to stick to, but its disposable nature is harming our planet.
Two strikes is enough for me to toss plastic wrap right out.
Instead, use something that’s more environmentally friendly and user-friendly- beeswax wraps!
They’re just cotton fabric imbued with beeswax, pine resin, and jojoba oil that makes them pliable yet sticky. You can use it as you would plastic wrap, just don’t microwave it!
As these become more popular, you can find them for sale in local shops all over the place. And, if you don’t mind your kitchen being sticky with pine resin forever and ever, you can even make them at home!
Freelance writer working with bighearted businesses who want to better our world.