Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

In dire need of zero waste remedies for cold and flu season? I hear you! With the cold weather here, everyone is starting to feel sick (sadly). Come winter, I usually get a cold at least once. Do I want it? No. Does it happen? Yes. Ugh, it’s so annoying. And man, is it wasteful! I cannot tell you how many tissues I go through when I have a stuffy nose. Piles upon piles. Yuck. But thankfully, there are some zero waste alternatives to this. Also, along with cutting back on waste, these zero waste remedies are more natural, thus better for your overall health. They’re honestly holistic remedies that I’ve come to love and enjoy thoroughly over the years (though some are a bit new to me and I’m just starting to incorporate them into my life). Regardless, everything I suggest here is something I’ve tried myself, or highly recommend after doing my research. Nature often knows exactly what we need to heal ourselves, so of course these remedies are all natural. Mama earth knows best, after all! Here are some zero waste remedies for cold and flu season.

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Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

We all get sick. But there’s many ways we can go about preventing it and treating it holistically. This post is not designed to take the place of a doctor. I am in no way a doctor. In fact, I advocate you go to a doctor ASAP if you are sick. But, this post is designed to help you deal with your symptoms or act as preventative measures. A lot of these remedies will also help cut the duration of sickness down. Best of all, most of these remedies, if not all, are safe for kids. With this in mind, lets dive in!
Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Echinacea Tea

This is one of my favorite zero waste remedies on this list. Echinacea tea works wonders when you’re sick! Yogi Tea makes a fantastic Echinacea Immune Support tea that also incorporates other cold fighting herbs (like peppermint, licorice, and lemongrass) into it. It tastes delicious and the tea bag is completely compostable when you’re done with it.

Yeah, if you didn’t know, most tea bags are made from plastic so they won’t break down (here’s how to brew yourself a cup of zero waste tea – and avoid the plastic bags).

I also really love drinking Yogi’s Throat Comfort tea too. It’s great when I have a sore throat. Sometimes, if I’m sick with a cold and have a sore throat, I’ll rotate drinking these two teas once per day – so maybe the Echnincea Immune Support in the morning, Throat Comfort at night before bed. Totally works wonders!

The Echinacea Immune Support tea is great for preventing catching a cold as well. One time, both my parents were sick and I did NOT want to catch what they had. So I drank two cups of this stuff every day – one at morning, one at night. I still swear to this day I didn’t catch what they had because I did that. That, and I ate really healthy on top of it.

Want to try some Echinacea tea for yourself? Check it out here. For throat comfort, check out this tea.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Elderberry syrup

Have you ever tried elderberry syrup? It’s the best! Super tasty and sweet, so it’s perfect for kids, honestly. I really like MaryRuth Organics Elderberry Syrup because it comes in a glass bottle and dropper, making it plastic-free and easy to use.

Elderberries have been used for thousands of years to treat and prevent colds and flus. The most common way they’re consumed today is through tea or syrup. It’s a tasty way to get vitamins A, B, and C into your body, that’s for sure. It’s a fantastic immune booster!

Another thing I love about MaryRuth Organics Elderberry Syrup is that it’s vegan, non-GMO, water soluble, and has no added sugar. It’s also mother-daughter owned, and to me, it’s incredibly important to support small businesses over larger corporations when possible! Plus, I like the fact it’s got a blueberry and raspberry flavor to it. Yum.

To use, just add it to water or take it directly. Adults can take 1ml (30 drops) daily, while kids take 0.5ml (15 drops) daily. Check it out here.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Neti pot

Okay, so I’ve never actually tried this remedy before but I have heard tons of good things about neti pots. Seriously. In particular, this Ceramic Neti Pot seems to be quite popular to use and has tons of great reviews.

From what I understand, neti pots are great for people with sinus infections. Neti pots help relieve clogged noses by using a salt and water solution to flush out the nasal passages.

Generally speaking, a lot of neti pots are made from plastic. The problem with that isn’t just the fact we (meaning me and you) are trying to reduce waste – it’s also not exactly easy to sanitize.

A lot of plastic neti pots have hollow handles that are practically impossible to clean. However, this Ceramic Neti Pot has a hygienic solid handle with no cavity – making it super easy to clean. In fact, it’s even dishwasher safe.

I like how it’s attractive enough to keep out when not in use, unlike plastic neti pots. It kind of looks like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp.

This Cermaic Neti Pot comes with complete illustrated instructions too, so you can start using it right away. It’s also not too big so the tapered spout should fit easily and comfortably into your nostril.

This is definitely a good option for those who suffer from clogged noses while sick and want some relief, be it a cold or sinus infection! Be sure to check out neti pots here.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Hankies + handkerchiefs

If touching a handkerchief skeeves you out, I recommend trying a HankyBook. They’re really cute and handy because you never have to touch the same area and risk touching snot. You just blow into a “page”, then use a new “page” when you’re ready. Super cute, super soft. Your nose will love ’em. Check them out here.

I used to scoff at the idea of using handkerchiefs. Now I use them all the time. There is a bit of a learning curve here, but once you start using them you likely won’t want to go back. I got mine from a thrift store – and some are just cut up from an old soft shirt. I also use a HankyBook.

No tissue on earth is as soft and comfortable as a handkerchief. I don’t care what you say. Handkerchiefs won’t irritate your nose at all or make it red and flaky like a tissue will.

Definitely check out the HankyBooks Jesse from Tiny Yellow Bungalow sells in her shop – they’re a game changer! Perfect for kids too.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Multi Vitamin & Mineral

Looking for a multi vitamin and mineral that comes in glass? Try New Chapter Vitamins: They come in a glass bottle, plus they’re organic and plant based as well.

They have vitamins for both women and men, along with supplements designed to help with prenatal and postnatal, joint + mobility, and heart health. They always use organic, non-GMO, high quality ingredients in their formulas, which I love! Check out their whole line here.

Looking for multi vitamins in a glass jar for children? Check out ChildLife Essentials – their multivitamin comes in liquid formula with a natural orange/mango taste. It has 16 essential vitamins for children and has no dairy, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, corn or yeast in it. It is also GMO and alcohol free. Check it out here.

It’s a good idea to take vitamins once a day. Ideally, you take it with breakfast so that your body can absorb, metabolize and utilize the nutrients throughout the day.

Taking vitamins can give you an extra boost against fighting colds and flus. They help our body run properly and get all the nutrients we need. Obviously, we should still get as many nutrients as we can from our diet. Vitamins cannot compare to the nutrients found in fresh produce, but they will help you out.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Natural cough syrup

Got a stubborn cough that just won’t go away? Ugh, that’s the worst. I recommend making some natural cough syrup. It’s not that hard.

To make your own, use 1 cup of water, 1 cup of honey, 1/2 cup peeled and sliced fresh ginger, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice.

In a small sauce pan, combine the lemon zest, ginger and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Strain the mixture into a heat proof cup and collect the water. In the same pan, add the honey and warm it on low heat but don’t let it boil. Stir in the lemon ginger water, then add the lemon juice. Combine well, then pour it into a glass jar.

You can store this natural cough syrup in the fridge for up to 6 months. Children 1-5 years old can take 1-2 teaspoons every 4 hours. Adults should take 1-2 tablespoons every 4 hours.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Homemade cough drops

Sometimes, you just need a cough drop. I get it. Personally, I love Ricola because their wrappers are made from wax paper, making them compostable. But homemade cough drops are amazing too.

I experimented with making my own cough drops and I’m very happy with the results. These zero waste cough drops eliminate waste completely, plus they taste super yummy! Took me a few tries to get it perfect but I’m very happy with the turnout.

They’re not only tasty, but really do help soothe your throat. Plus it’s so much cheaper to make these than buy at the store! Check them out here.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season
Photo by Vicky Tran from Pexels

Garlic honey

It might sound odd, but garlic honey is really great for boosting your immune system. Garlic contains vitamins and minerals such as zinc, selenium and vitamin C.

Studies have shown that the allicin found within garlic is one of the most potent antioxidants around. To activate allicin, garlic must be crushed, releasing the oils.

Honey is also nature’s cough medicine. It’s soothing and anti-inflammatory. Combining honey and garlic together just makes sense.

To make garlic honey, grab a 4 ounce glass jar, some raw honey, a head of garlic, and a butcher knife.

Begin by peeling the garlic. Use the flat side of the knife to crush the garlic to release the allicin. Scoop your crushed cloves and put them in the jar, leaving it to sit and let the oils flow for about 10 to 20 minutes. You want to get as much of the oil and juices from the garlic in there. Next, fill the jar with honey, screw on the lid, shake it, and leave it to rest in a cool dark place for 3 to 5 days. After that, you can store the honey garlic in the fridge and use when needed.

To use, take a spoonful of honey as well as a crushed clove. Make sure to chew up the clove before swallowing. The garlic’s infusion with the honey will take away the strong garlic flavor and make it a lot more pleasant. For children, just administer the honey, minus the clove.

If you feel sickness coming on, try to take at least 6 cloves a day (ideally). This garlic infused honey also works as a natural cough syrup too.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Fermented foods

Fermented foods are great for overall health, but they also help fight off colds and flus. Go figure, am I right? That means you should definitely be eating more kimchi, miso, pickled veggies, yogurt and kefir as the weather cools!

I made my own zero waste pickles over the summer and it was so darn easy. Plus you can customize it to create the flavors you want.

Believe it or not, the bacteria that lives in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermtented foods actually give your immune system a boost.

Also, consuming fermented foods while sick may actually help you recover faster.

As an added bonus, many fermented foods are a great source of vitamin C, iron and zinc – these nutrients also contribute to a strong immune system ironically.

Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

Fire cider

There’s a reason this option is all the way at the end of the list. Fire cider is NOT for the weak of heart. I would know…I’ve tired making it.

It’s extremely potent and honestly pretty smelly and gross to drink. I couldn’t do it, and I wouldn’t do it ever again.

That said, it’s loaded with health benefits and I’ve heard so many people rave about it shortening their sick time, or even preventing it in the first place. So hey, if you feel adventurous or like spicy flavors, go ahead and give this remedy a go. I’ll stick with my other remedies, thank you.

More zero waste remedies

Apart from the zero waste remedies mentioned, please consider these tips and tricks as well:

  • If you’re sick, drink plenty of liquids. This means eating more soup and drinking lots of water and tea. Vegetable soup works wonders when you make it using fresh farmers market produce!
  • Elevated sleep can help. Whenever I’m sick, I always put a pillow or two behind me. It really does help with congestion, even if it’s not the most comfortable.
  • Try a salt water gargle. This is perfect for when you have a sore throat and feel sickness first starting to bud. It can relieve a dry, scratchy throat. Just use about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt mixed with a cup of warm water.
  • Take a steamy eucalyptus shower. If you have bad sinus pressure, taking a steamy shower can help clear you up. Even better yet, add some fresh eucalyptus to your shower – the oils will be activated with the shower steam and further help alleviate congestion.
  • Rest up! This is so important – if you feel run down or like you’re coming down with something, that’s a sign your body needs rest! Give it that extra help by just relaxing and lounging about.
Zero Waste Remedies for Cold + Flu Season

What did you think of this list? Which of these zero waste remedies would you try?

For more zero waste tips on staying healthy, check out these 6 tips to keep you healthy year round, or these natural immune boosters.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to share it! If you like my content, sign up for my newsletter to get notified every time I write a new blog post. To support me even further, please consider buying me a cup of tea to help support my blog.

By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo 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.


  1. As a nurse, I have some additional thoughts on this subject. First of all the most zero waste thing everyone can do is to prevent getting sick:
    Get a flu shot every year!!! It won't stop all cases of the flu but it greatly reduces them and most importantly prevents the most vulnerable in the population from the likelihood of getting the flu. Evidence shows that many who do get the flu after a flu shot will have a much milder case.
    If you have a fever go to a primary care provider (not work or school) this may be the indication of something more serious than a cold.
    ALWAYS – practice good hand washing!!! Sing the happy birthday song twice while scrubbing your hands with soap, rinse, and dry. If soap and water not available – alcohol based hand cleaners (Purell a brand name) are adequate, but soap & water are better.
    If you are feeling congested, chicken soup has proven helpful properties. I like your recommendation for rest, tea feels good, echinacea may have some benefit as well as zinc. Neti pots are wonderful. Gargles are helpful, too. Any liquids are good so if you have a sore throat – popsicles might feel good and give you hydration. Teach everyone how to use good hand washing and to cover their mouth and nose with their elbow when coughing or sneezing – helps to prevent passing on germs through hands.

    I love your zero waste blog.

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