20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

With Plastic Free July here, I figured it would be fun to share these super easy zero waste DIY ideas you could make at home using what you have. Not only are they low waste, but they’re also budget friendly. Most of these projects and DIYs will have you using whatever you already have lying around the house. After all, this is the most sustainable option. Mind you, when I speak of zero waste DIYs, I’m referring to pretty much anything you can make yourself. It can be as complex as something you sew, or quick as whipping something up within five minutes. But one thing is guaranteed – all these zero waste DIYs are easy and beginner friendly.

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

A lot of zero waste products can be made at home using ingredients and materials you probably already have. Obviously, some supplies will probably need to be purchased to make a few of these DIY projects, but always use what you have first.

Some of these involve sewing, others are more of a mix-and-combine kind of DIY. Some are beauty related, others cleaning. A few aren’t mine (I give credit to who they belong to), but most of them are mine. But all will help you lead a low waste lifestyle.

Here are a few of my favorite DIYs – be sure to bookmark this page for later!

1. Makeup remover pads

Going Zero Waste, aka Kathryn Kellogg has an amazing diy zero waste cotton round how-to on her blog. She used an old flannel t-shirt that shrunk to make them and I’m in love. To complete her diy, you’ll need scrap fabric, scrap paper, scissors, pins, thread, a sewing machine, and a jar or container to trace the shape/store them. There’s even how-to pictures alongside the directions!

2. Reusable sandwich bags

The Crafty Gemini has a fun video on YouTube about how to make a super easy diy reusable sandwich or snack bag. While it does require sewing, it doesn’t require any fancy zippers to close properly, which I like. You just need a sewing machine, coordinating thread and an 17″ x 7″ piece of fabric (preferably something washable like organic cotton).

DIY Natural: 20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects
Credit: DIY Natural

3. DIY dryer sheets (aka dryer balls)

Instead of single-use dryer sheets, making the switch to reusable dryer balls is a great option! And even better if you can successfully make your own. I really like the eco friendly DIY from DIY Natural – all you need is 100% wool (NOT wool labeled superwash or machine washable), scissors, nylons or knee-high stockings, blunt-tipped needle or crochet hook, and string or cotton/acrylic yarn (to secure the wool ball in the pantyhose). When you do actually craft the wool dryer balls, I highly recommend adding some essential oils to them before tossing into your dryer (this will make your clothes smell nice without the need for fabric softener).

4. Reusable produce bags

Reusable produce bags come in handy when you’re buying food at the supermarket and farmers market. My handy produce bag stash has saved me from using so much single-use plastic! I really love the DIY by Zero Waste Chef – her tutorial is great because it has written instructions along with a video. You basically just need a sewing machine and some fabric to get the job done. However, you can make reusable produce bags without sewing as well!

5. Cloth “paper towels”

Single use paper towels, while compostable, definitely add up. And they take a lot of resources and energy to make (not to mention the plastic wrapped around them). Try making your own reusable paper towels instead. I really like the DIY by Paper & Stitch because it focuses on using fabric scraps to make them. You’ll need fabrics scraps (like a ratty old towel or t-shirt), thread, pins, a sewing machine, scissors and an iron ruler. I like to store my reusable paper towels in a kitchen drawer and leave a few out in the open for easy hand wiping.

6. Reusable bowl covers

These reusable fabric bowl covers are so cute and a great way to keep your leftovers fresh. No more plastic cling wrap needed! I really love the tutorial by Hearth and Vine: You’ll need cotton fabric, a 1/4 inch elastic cord, coordinating thread, a small safety pin, a sewing machine, scissors, pinking shears, tape measure or ruler, a pencil and an iron. Depending on the size of the bowls you want these fabric covers to fit, your cotton fabric will vary.

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

7. Laundry detergent

A lot of laundry detergents contain questionable ingredients that pollute waterways. Plus, they’re packaged in plastic. Try making your own zero waste laundry detergent instead. I have two recipes on my blog – one that’s a powder, and another that’s a gel that liquifies. It all depends on personal preference!

8. Toothpaste + mouthwash

Toothpaste tubes are made from plastic and most mouthwash comes in a big plastic container. To avoid all the waste, try making your own DIY toothpaste and mouthwash. For the toothpaste, all you’ll need is coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil. The mouthwash requires mint, baking soda, tea tree oil, peppermint oil and water. You can store both of these in upcycled glass containers!

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

9. Deodorant

Most deodorants on the market are plastic push up containers that will eventually end up in a landfill. Try making your own deodorant with my recipe here. If you’re sensitive, try my other no-baking soda recipe that uses arrowroot (or cornstarch) in its place. You can store this in an upcycled jar – it’s basically a deodorant paste. Just use your finger to apply it and rub it in.

10. Air freshener

Conventional air fresheners give me headaches and set off my allergies. Why not make your own DIY Febreze instead? All you’ll need is a spray bottle, water, and essential oils you love.

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

11. Dry shampoo

No time to wash your hair? Ditch the conventional (and pricy) dry shampoo options and save a buck by making your own! You’ll never believe this, but the secret ingredient is oats! My dad is OBSSESSED with this dry shampoo and begs me to make more for him all the time, so it really works.

12. Hair spray

In the summer, whenever I go to put my hair into a ponytail, I ALWAYS have a flyaways. Instead of using conventional hair spray (that probably isn’t too good to inhale anyway), I just whip up my own! This solution is basically just water, salt, and coconut oil but it works wonders. You may have to reapply it a few times and smooth down the flyaways with your hand, but it gives my hair a much sleeker look that I love.

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

13. Orange peel vinegar

Cleaning products tend to come in plastic and are loaded with questionable ingredients. When we wash them down the drain, they can hurt aquatic ecosystems too. That’s why I love cleaning with my all-purpose orange peel vinegar cleaner. You just save up some orange (or any citrus) peels, infuse them in some vinegar, and then combine it with water in a spray bottle. Very effective!

14. Dishwasher detergent

Load up that dishwasher – it’s actually more eco-friendly than handwashing! Well, as long as it’s a full load. What’s not so sustainable? Most conventional dishwasher detergents, which you really don’t want mixing with water. Try my recipe for DIY dishwasher detergent instead!

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

15. Toilet cleaner

This is one of the more fun cleaning DIYs that help reduce waste. I love making these and plopping one into the toilet to watch it fizz up. One of the main ingredients that makes this happen is citric acid. Then, you just scrub away! Try out my toilet fizzies to see for yourself!

16. Produce wash

One word: Baking soda. It’s a miracle worker. It will literally be this simplest zero waste DIY on this list. Just combine it with some water and you got yourself some produce wash.

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

17. Body lotion

This is a great DIY for those who suffer from dry skin, or just love to keep your skin nourished and hydrated. This body lotion isn’t overtly greasy either, and it was a lot of fun to make. Grab the recipe here!

18. Bug spray

In the summer, mosquitos bite me every chance they get. It SUCKS. So I don’t leave home without some on my handy bug spray! It keeps them away from me, and that’s what matters.

20 Easy Zero Waste DIY Ideas + Projects

19. Tub + sink scrub

This tub and sink scrub is perfect for polishing pretty much everything. My mom LOVES this stuff. She always uses it in our kitchen sink. But she’s pretty crafty and has also used it to polish up some of her silverware, or remove really touch stuck-on stains. And it always works! Grab the recipe here.

20. Glass + mirror cleaner

My mirrors and windows get so dirty. I’m guilty of not cleaning them as often as I should. But this glass + mirror cleaner gets the grime right out! Just use a rag and get right up in there – don’t be afraid to sprintz on a lot and scrub hard.

So what do you think of these zero waste DIYs? Which zero waste projects are you eager to try out? Let me know in the comments below!

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By Ariana Palmieri

Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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