Once you’ve used up your single-use plastic items and disposed of them properly, by reusing them/refilling them, or as a last resort, recycling them (either in your community possible or by sending it to Terracycle), you might be in the market for some more sustainable products going forward.
Remember, the zero waste process isn’t a rush to get rid of what you have. Use it up consciously, and next time, make your own products or purchase from sustainable companies.
Understandably, there are some things we just can’t make at home, at least not easily. Maybe you don’t have several months to grow a loofah sponge, maybe you need one now. We understand.
Maybe you ARE making your own cleaners, but you want to start using glass instead of plastic. Where do you get spray bottles or those mason jar attachments to turn your cute glass mason jar into a soap dispenser?
3 Ingredient Dish Washing Detergent
Did you know that with just a few ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, you can make a safe and effective detergent for your dishwasher?
For the recipe and hard/soft water trouble shooting, click here!
These products can be hard to find, and sometimes we have to resort to websites like Amazon, which currently doesn’t ship in sustainable packaging. If this is the case, try to group as many items into one package/delivery as possible to reduce unnecessary package waste.
Here are some options I have found to be useful:
Commercial sponges are full of toxins and cannot be composted or recycled. Do you want that on the dishes you eat off of?
Stop wasting paper! These are a great alternative to paper towels that will save you money less than a year if you buy paper towels regularly.
This seems self-explanatory.
Reusable Glass Containers
An awesome way to store produce in the fridge or freezer.
Stainless-Steel Lunch Boxes
I use these daily and when I travel. Perfect for takeaway food and leftovers.
Bees Wax Wrap
A safer alternative to saran wrap. But you can easily make your own!
I store this in my freezer until full, then dump it outside in the backyard composter.
Glass Spray Bottles
I use these personally, one for household cleaner (white vinegar water), and one for spraying sesame seed body oil. Ooh baby.
Metal Ice-Cube Tray
If you’re concerned about plastic chemicals leaching into your ice, this is a safer alternative.
Bamboo, metal, glass, whatever your preference. As long as it’s not single-use plastic that’s fine with us. I personally love glass straws at home, they work great for smoothies or ice coffees or anytime I don’t want to hit your enamel with too much acidity.
Note: I have found these sold individually/package free at Whole Foods, Co-ops and even craft stores like Michael’s. Make sure to pay attention whether your getting wide mouth or regular sized jars. The attachments only fit specific mouth sizes.
Mason Jar Lid Attachments:
transform your mason jar into a spray bottle or soap dispenser. Note: you can also use spray bottle nozzles from your current spray bottles, they just might not seal quite as tightly.
Spray bottle attachment:
Reusable Bags (organic cotton)
Most likely you already have some reusable bags, but if not, try to find some that aren’t made of plastic. Reusable plastic bags are often made cheaply, they don’t carry much weight, and rip easily.
Storing bulk food can be challenging at fist, and new glass containers aren’t exactly cheap. First, see what you have already. Maybe you got fancy ceramic cookie jar for Christmas one year, that could work for flour. Maybe you saved an extra large glass pickle jar. That would work perfectly for dried bulk ingredients… oats, chickpeas, beans, you name it!
As the zero waste process continues, you might find that you need more containers than you have. You can’t just keep the bulk brown sugar in the cotton bag you used, it’ll dry out quickly! It needs to go in something sealed.
So again, before hitting the stores or the internet for new containers, consider a thrift store. I was able to find many sealing glass containers, even those fancy French ones with the orange rubber ring at my local Good Will. However, even if its second hand, I would be weary of plastics. Especially plastics that aren’t labeled, maybe because they’re old. That means they probably are made with BPA or other chemicals that may also be endocrine disruptors or carcinogenic. Plastic containers could be used for storing non-food items, like spare nails and screws, or even spare change. Just be careful with food, that’s my two cents.
After a few years of searching, I ended up buying these containers for dried pasta and longer-shaped items. I’m a big pasta eater, and once we were able to find it in bulk, I went nuts. We’re also on the hunt for a used pasta maker because hoooo-boy. I love me some carbs.
Of course, you can always use your various-sized mason jars, as well!
And, of course, these are the fashionable La Parfait containers you’ll see on the more minimalist-zero waste pages. They work, absolutely. Fashion and function at its finest, but they’re expensive… and let me tell you, when you break one, you’re gonna be a lot more upset than you would be if you just dropped a mason jar. I’m just saying. Perhaps that will just inspire you to be more gentle with it. That’s fair, right?
The Book That Got Me Started:
This book was extremely helpful in my early zero waste days. I hope you find it just as helpful 🙂 The least wasteful way to read is online, like through a service like Kindle. Otherwise, see if the book is available used. Sometimes you can contact these sellers personally and ask them to ship in compostable paper materials.