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My Top 10 Favorite Zero Waste Swaps

Zero Waste for Beginners

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

Every Wednesday I publish a little YouTube video. I’ve decided I want to do a short (or long) blog post to accompany the video!

My Top 10 Favorite Zero Waste Swaps from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #gogreen #sustainable #zerowasteswaps #plasticfree #easyswaps #zerowasteforbeginners

This one is going to be a short run down of my 10 favorite zero waste swaps!

If I decided to become super wasteful tomorrow, (which I won’t) but for the sake of this post we’ll pretend like I’m going to…. these are the 10 swaps I would NEVER give up.

Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure policy.

They have all made my life easier in some way!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

1. french press:

It should come as no surprise that I LOVE to make tea in my french press. I find that it works much better than using a tea ball or a reusable tea bag.

If you have a small kitchen, it’s important to have items that can perform multiple tasks.

I like the french press because I can use it to make tea, coffee, or nut milk. Yes, your french press can strain your nut milk!

Get my tips for making almond milk and for making iced tea with loose leaf tea.

2. bidet attachment:

The bidet attachment is one of both Justin and my favorite zero waste swaps.

The National Resources Defense Council just released a report that Americans use almost 3 rolls of toilet paper a WEEK!

That’s so crazy to me. Justin and I don’t even go through a roll of toilet paper a week, and that’s thanks to our bidet attachment!

We’ve had both a Brondell and a Tushy and both work great.

For more information on bidets check out this post Everything You Need to Know About Bidets.

3. thinx:

Thinx are my preferred zero waste menstrual product of choice! I love them because they feel just like wearing a regular pair of undies.

When you’re feeling crummy and crampy, it’s nice to feel somewhat normal without wearing a bulky pad.

I am a #ThinxLeader which means if you’re interested in purchasing any Thinx you can get $10 off your order with this link.

Of course, there are several other zero waste options, check out this blog post How to Have a Zero Waste Period for more info.

4. fountain pen:

Now, this swap came as a total surprise to me. I’m left-handed, and if you’re left-handed, you’ll understand the ink on pinky problem. I thought using a fountain pen would be a TRAGEDY. But, you hold the pen differently when you’re using a fountain pen vs. a ballpoint pen.

I have a Dryden that I’m really happy with and use Parker Ink.

Check out this post, if you’re looking for more zero waste office and school supplies.

5. cloth napkins:

I’m surprised that cloth napkins are one of my favorite switches seeing how much I hate doing laundry, but I do love my cloth napkins.

These ones are especially dear to my heart because I hand stitched them. When I first started going zero waste I was on a super tight budget so I bought about a yard or two of fabric from the thrift store and stitched the napkins up.

Check out these tips for Going Zero Waste on a Budget.

6. bamboo toothbrush:

This was one of the first switches I made and it honestly made shopping for toothbrushes so much easier. I was always overwhelmed by the toothbrush options at the grocery store.

I could never remember the brand or type of toothbrush I used… so thanks to Brush with Bamboo I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Check out this post on DIY Toothpowder.


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7. glass straw:

This switch really surprised me, but I really, really love drinking water from a straw. It helps me drink a lot more water. My favorite straw is the glass straw.

Check out this blog post if you’re wondering Which Reusable Straw is Best?

8. glass snapware:

I LOVE my glass snapware. I like that it’s so versatile. You can buy food or even get zero waste takeout the containers. You can cook in them, freeze in them, microwave them, and of course, use them store leftovers.

They work so much better for me than just shoving everything in a mason jar. Check out this post if you’re looking for ways to Store Leftovers Without Plastic .

9. handkerchief:

The best thing about cloth handkerchiefs is that your nose doesn’t chafe like with paper. When you blow your nose with a paper tissue small pieces of paper can get up your nose causing you to sneeze.

Most of my handkerchiefs are vintage from my great-grandmother, ones that I’ve picked up from a garage sale for about .25 cents a piece, or bandanas!


10. bar of soap:

Last but not least, is a bar of soap. It’s such a simple swap to make from plastic body wash to a bar of soap. I think it looks so much nicer in the shower and it’s just really luxurious.

What’s one of your favorite zero swaps you’ve made?

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  1. Making my own broth. I keep a large container in my freezer and put all my veggie scraps into it when I’m cooking. Once it’s full I throw the contents in a pot, add water and a few seasonings and simmer it for about two hours. I strain it, (compost the bits), and store it in the freezer in several sizes. One or two cups can be used to flavor rice and larger amounts are used as a base for soup. It’s also much cheaper than buying it and I can control the sodium level.

  2. I love this post!! I am doing or in process of switching over in most of these categories. It was your bidet article that influenced me to make the switch a few months ago, and I love it!! My friends think I’m weird, but I know it’s they who are missing out.

  3. I’m glad you didn’t say anything about ‘un-paper towels’ ugh! My generation calls those dish cloths and fabric napkins. I used cloth diapers as much as I was allowed to. My girls went to daycare where they required disposable diapers. I would put them in cloth diapers as soon as I got to the daycare center for a comfortable ride home. 100% cotton is better for their skin. Sewing is also very sustainable. When I lose a button and know that I will never match the buttons on a blouse or dress, I look at high end clothes to see what kind of buttons are on a similar item. I head to the fabric store to update my clothes instead of discarding and buying new.

  4. I love your list! These are great selections. Many of them are my favorites, too, (what’s not to love about French press organic fair trade coffee?)

    I don’t have the bidet attachment but i have been considering getting one. Some girlfriends of mine have one in their apartment and the love it!

    One of my favorite tools is a steel thermos, or actually i have several depending on the situation. Eating lunch away from home usually generates so much trash, so i pack my own. I have a thermos for coffee when its just me, a larger one when its my husband and I, and two wide mouth thermoses of different sizes, one with a folding metal spoon, for soup or hot meals. I know it sounds like a lot, but they all get a lot of use, and have saved a lot of disposable lunch ware from carry-outs, as well as a lot of money!

  5. I make cowboy coffee. Tastes better, minimal equipment. Tablespoon of grounds in a cup, pour boiling water in to full, stir, wait 3 minutes, stir again. The grounds get saturated and sink to the bottom. Been doing it for years, and I don’t ever get grounds in my mouth. I’ve never used a straw for drinking, I just drink out of a plastic bottle. There’s no leaching, as HDPE is inert(Polymer Chemist), and they last a long time and are recyclable. I hike, so a glass or stainless bottle wouldn’t work. Both are too heavy, and glass is fragile.

    Bamboo toothbrushes seem to clean better, and are lighter than plastic ones.

  6. Bar of soap for handwashing, bar of soap for showering and shampoo bar!! I switched few years ago and I don´t miss showering with liquid soap at all! I also love my deodorant in carton package!

  7. We recently switched to bamboo toothbrushes and I feel a lot better about not sending all that plastic to the landfill. I also switched to bar shampoo, conditioner and soap, and I’ll never go back! Now I’m just working on getting my husband on board because he’s pretty resistant to change.

  8. I’m very happy with Sea Pearl sea sponge tampons. They are reusable and biodegradable. I’ve been using them for five years and would not go back.

    1. Heads up: if you have any reason to think you might have a shellfish allergy you might want to check with your doctor before using these. My mom has a scallop allergy and I’ve always thought they smelled gross, low and behold it might be for a reason because these tampons gave me an immediate very scary allergic reaction. I know lots of other people who love them though!

  9. I’m a 15 year old and I started using a menstrual cup. I use to have massive cramps and now they’re almost gone. I hated that feeling of leak everytime I’d wear a pad and I was so scared of getting a menstrual shock that everytime id use a tampon, I’d change it every 2-3 hours. Menstrual cups are amazing. Would never go back.

  10. 1.Carry plastic shopping bag in purse. Use daily for everything…
    Bring stuff in out of car, grocery store, pharmacy, Library, anything.
    2. Glass or stainless straws (carry in bag next to shopping bag)
    3. Preserve toothbrushes, from all those yogurt cups
    4. Mason jars for everything
    5. DIY health and beauty (stored in mason jars!)

  11. I’ve switched to using shampoo bars more specifically the ones from LUSH! They smell decadent, they lather up, moisturize the hair, and you can get 80 to 100 uses from them! Doesn’t get any better than that!

  12. I, like Lc, carry fold up bags in my purse…light weight and take up no room then I don’t have to rely on my memory. Recently when my daughter gave me a set of stainless steel straws I kept forgetting them so made a cloth case for them but expanded the idea to include slots for 2 spoons, 2 forks, 2 knives so there’s a set in each vehicle for my husband and I to use when there’s only plastic ware to choose from. Included a small flannel bag for used utensils. We’ve been surprised how often we use them!

  13. Here in FL, we might wear a lot of flip flops. Since I swim often, the bottoms get smooth and slippery. I cut them up and use them in the bottom of flower or herb pots for drainage.

  14. My favourite swap has been using a dob of aqueous cream on toilet paper instead of moist wipes (toilet ones!). I developed a nasty skin reaction to the wipes and my GP suggested this as an alternative. A big tub (500gm) is equivalent to 10 packets of wipes so it’s both biologically and economically god practice, not to mention kinder on my (ahem!). No idea what aqueous cream is called in the use but it’s the ingredients are
    30% Emulsifying ointment, 15% White soft paraffin and 0.6% liquid paraffin.

    Oh, and by the way, I’ve not drink tea or coffee for around 30 years because I simply don’t like it! And I also dislike tap water. Go figure!

  15. I find there are some typos in my post
    1. No idea what aqueous cream is called in the States
    2. economically good practice

  16. I have stopped using shampoo all together .. I’m using this herbal hair mask that comes in paper packaging I mix it with water into a runny paste use it as a mask in my hair leave it for twenty mins and rinse it out that’s pretty much it ! I use organic coconut oil the next morning in my hair leave the oil in my hair for a week and do the same mask again ! I dont use soap either I just use an organic herbal bath powder from the same brand !and I just mix a little with water and use it as a face and body cleanser !! I love this brand !! its an indian based company its called vaseegrahvedha

  17. Love these great zero swap ideas. I had never even thought of using a French Press to make tea but I think that is so creative. Also love Thinx and use them myself. Great post and thanks for sharing.

    From Laurel Christine at [email protected]

  18. I love all of these – do you have a Canadian version by any chance? When I go to the links to purchase items they are not available in Canada 🙁

  19. HEY! Love this post! So on the bidet topic, I’ve had a “Luxe” Bidet for awhile now and damned if I do not RAVE about it anyone who will listen. BUT(T), it really hasn’t cut down on my paper use because i’m all wet at the end. What do you do to dry off to save paper? Would love the advise! I’m looking into asking for a more expensive one with a dryer for Christmas, haha.