Are you on the hunt for some zero waste essentials? Maybe you’re just starting your journey – or you consider yourself an expert. Either way, these brands will help you create a more sustainable, low waste lifestyle. I’ve gone ahead and listed the best products for a low impact lifestyle in every area of your life – be it in the kitchen or on the go. It’s incredibly important we make informed, conscious choices whenever we can. This will greatly help us reduce waste (and FYI, the average American generates ~4.9lbs of trash per day!). While I firmly believe zero waste should never be reduced to simply monitoring your purchases, I do believe we vote with our wallets. So make sure you bookmark this post for later – you never know when you’ll be on the market for a sustainable swap! Here are my favorite zero waste essentials for every area of your life and home.
This post is sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains some affiliate links. If you choose to purchase one of these items, I will make a very small commission at no extra charge to you. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.
Zero Waste Essentials For Every Area Of Your Life + Home
What’s considered zero waste essentials?
Honestly, anything that makes your life as a zero waster easier. In order to be zero waste, you’ll need certain items (and mindset shifts!) to make an impact. This all varies depending on what aspect of your life you’re looking at.
I always recommend doing a trash audit to access exactly where your trash is mostly stemming from. This will help you determine which zero waste essentials you need the most.
And please remember – you don’t need to go zero waste overnight. Nor do you need to dump all your plastic items out (that would be counterproductive). Just use what you have until it gets worn out – then swap it out for something more sustainable (like the products on this list!).
I do recommend creating a zero waste kit to go, as this is likely where most of your waste will come from. Disposable items run rampant in cafes, restaurants, bars and offices. So having a kit ready to help you avoid the waste is ideal!
What should be in a zero waste kit?
Having a zero-waste kit can help you reduce waste while you’re on the go. What goes in the kit can change depending on your own needs and where you’re going.
Here are some of the basic items that you definitely need:
- Reusable water bottle
- Reusable coffee cups and other food containers
- A set of utensils
- A reusable napkin
- One or two shopping bags.
For more information on these items, make sure you check out the ‘On the Go’ section below.
What are the 5 principles of zero waste?
The 5 principles of zero-waste are the most important thing to think about when trying to be more eco-friendly! I’ll talk about them a bit here, but make sure to check out this post for a more in-depth look at them.
Refuse – Get comfortable saying no to single-use items (like straws, plastic utensils, etc.) and anything that harms the environment.
Reduce – Reduce the amount of products that you buy as well as the amount of waste that you produce. When making a purchase, think about if you really need to buy it or if it will sit unused at home. Waiting 30 days to make a purchase can help reduce impulse buying.
Reuse – Instead of throwing something away, can you reuse or fix it? Or, if it’s something that you no longer use, can you give it to someone else or donate it to a thrift store? Buying second-hand is great because it helps keep items out of the landfill. This creates a more circular economy!
Recycle – This is the one most people are aware of. Make sure you know your local recycling rules and stick by them.
Rot – Rot your organic waste by composting at home or in community composting schemes. Food waste doesn’t decompose properly in a landfill, so instead use it to give tons of nutrients to your garden.
How do you start living zero waste?
Starting to live a zero-waste life can be daunting, but I promise it’s easy! This post gives you 20 tips to get started, and I definitely recommend reading that to start. I also have over 200 blog posts all about zero waste living, so feel free to search my blog for any topic you like.
The most important part of going zero-waste is research. Look into the products you’re buying and their impact on the earth. Think about materials, end of life, and how/where it was made. Read articles, blogs, and books, and watch documentaries to make sure that you’re making informed choices at every step.
What can I buy for zero waste?
Zero waste living is all about using what you have. But at some point, you may be on the market for some new eco products.
I’ve broken down this post into four different sections: The bathroom, on the go, the kitchen, and cleaning. In each, you’ll find several products that will help you not only reduce waste, but create a more sustainable, healthy life.
It is always best to buy sustainably when you can and there are a bunch of really awesome zero waste essentials in today’s post, so make sure you check them out.
The bathroom is one of the most wasteful rooms in our homes which is why it’s at the top of this list. Did you know the average woman applies 12 beauty products to her skin every day? I’m talking shampoo, conditioner, lotion, facial cleanser, etc. I’ll bet most of them are packaged in plastic too. Not to mention all the other forms of waste in the bathroom – water waste, floss, etc.
The products featured in this section are from Green Eco Dream, a sustainable and ethical marketplace for all your eco needs. I love the fact they ship everything plastic-free and encourage people to reuse their mailers! They’re Certified Carbon Neutral, which means they reduce their carbon footprint where they can and offset emissions where they can’t. Plus, they’re members of 1% For The Planet, Sierra Club, and the Plastic Pollution Coalition!
For more tips on having a less plastic-packaged bathroom, check out my blog post How to Have a Zero Waste Bathroom.
- Comes in a biodegradable case
- Replaces 1750 single-use cotton rounds
- Can be composted
- Essential Item for any bathroom
Do you reach for disposable cotton rounds when cleaning off your makeup or applying skincare products? Try these reusable cotton rounds instead. You can use them in the exact same way you do with disposables – but these can be washed and reused multiple times. One pack replaces 1750 single-use cotton rounds. At the end of their lives, they are suitable for composting and even the case is biodegradable.
2. Safety Razor
- Plastic-Free alternative to disposable razors
- 100% Stainless Steel + Recyclable
- Includes 10 Blades
- Designed for a close shave
- Gender Neutral
The safety razor is one of my all time favorite zero waste swaps. According to The Environmental Protection Agency, it’s estimated 2 billion razors and refill blades get tossed out in the U.S. each year! So making this switch is imperative. This particular safety razor comes with 10 spare blades which are easy to change out, and everything can be recycled once used! You can use each blade multiple times, which reduces the amount of waste you produce. It gives a nice smooth shave and can be used by anyone regardless of gender!
- Concentrated shampoo bars
- Cruelty-Free + Color-safe
- Different bars for different hair types
- Compostable Packaging
I LOVE shampoo bars and I’m never going back to shampoo packaged in plastic. They’re so much fun to use, plus the fact they’re concentrated actually helps save water and CO2 emissions during transport (less bulky packaging = less cars needed for transport!). These Hibar shampoo bars are made from high-quality cruelty-free ingredients that are free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and silicone. There are 5 different bar types which mean that there’s something for everyone, whether you have thick, thin, dry, or dyed hair! The packaging is compostable, making this a truly circular product.
4. Jade Roller
- Skincare Must-Have
- Aids Circulation + Reduces Puffiness
- Ethically Sourced
- Reusable + washable
- Can be used with or without oils
- Made with natural minerals
Who needs 10 skincare products when you have this amazing (and reusable) jade roller? It’s a great addition to your skincare routine because it encourages blood circulation and reduces puffiness. Plus, if you use it with serums and oils then it can help them be absorbed. It can be reused over and over again and is made from ethically sourced, natural minerals.
- Soft bristles
- Longer Lasting Design
- Suitable for all hair types
Plastic hair brushes always manage to break on me – especially the bristles. This bamboo hairbrush is a great alternative that’s built to last! It works just as well with soft bristles that easily detangle your hair, no matter how long or knotty it is! Bamboo is a sustainable material too because of how fast growing it is (making it renewable, unlike the fossil fuels in your plastic brush). When it does eventually come to the end of its life, the bamboo will break down a lot easier than plastic will.
On The Go
We tend to create the most waste when we’re out and about. Think about it – takeout containers, plastic utensils, disposable coffee cups. These are all items we encounter on the go when we’re not prepared. That’s why it’s so important to always have a zero waste kit with you. These are some amazing products I recommend always having on hand no matter where you go so you’ll be ready for anything! Store them in your car, in your bag…some can even go on your keychain.
For more inspo, check out my blog post How to Create a Zero Waste To Go Kit.
- Refillable hand sanitizer
- Reusable + recyclable
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Hydrating, all-natural ingredients
- Clip-ons available: Can attach to your keychain
In today’s day and age, hand sanitizer is a must. That’s why I was so excited when I learned about Olika, a refillable hand sanitizer! I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to see so many people using single-use hand sanitizer because I know the smaller something is, the less likely it is to actually get recycled. Recycling facilities aren’t designed to handle small items the size of hand sanitizer bottles. So having a refillable option cuts down on tons of waste! Plus the ingredients are clean and great for people with sensitive skin that easily dries out (like me!).
- Collapsible + reusable cups, bottles + food containers
- Helps reduce food waste + plastic waste on the go
- Food grade silicone
- Working on building out a recycling program for their silicone components
- Not cumbersome – lightweight
Stojo creates excellent collapsible to-go essentials like a reusable water bottle, cups and food containers. I find whenever I’m out and about having these items on me is a great way to reduce waste, but it can get cumbersome too. That’s why Stojo is amazing – their bottles, cups and food containers are all lightweight and collapsible making them easy to store in your bag without weighing it down. A bottle will make sure you stay hydrated no matter where you go; A cup is great for visiting a local café before heading to work; Their food containers are perfect for parties where everyone else is using disposable plates. I can’t tell you how awkward it gets asking hosts for real plates at a party – so having a collapsible food storage option makes things a lot more convenient! Plus, you can use the food containers whenever you have leftovers while eating out or picking up takeout. It also triples as a lunchbox – yay for versatility!
8. Utensil Set
- Alternative to plastic disposable cutlery
- Utensils for all meal types
- Perfect for Takeaways on the go
- Convenient Storage
- Plastic Free
Do you get sick of having to use plastic cutlery when you are out? To help you be able to refuse these, it’s an absolute must to pop utensils in your zero waste kit. This utensils kit from Earth Hero is a great addition, as it contains a straw and straw cleaner, along with a knife, fork, spoon, and chopsticks. These can be handy to keep around in case you treat yourself to a takeaway or are going on a picnic and need utensils!
- Perfect for messy eaters
- Replaces Single Use Napkins
- 100% Organic Cotton
- An essential for children
A reusable napkin is another good addition to your kit, plus a small bag to keep the dirty ones separate. If you have children or are just a messy eater, you will start to find yourself not being able to leave the house without them. There are some great ones you can find at Earth Hero or you can even make some yourself out of any soft fabric you might have lying around!
- Reusable Alternative to Carrier Bags
- Compact in Reusable pouch
- Wide range of Gorgeous Designs
- Available in Different Sizes
- Made from Recycled Materials
A reusable bag for me is one of the absolute top priorities for anyone looking for zero waste essentials. I really love Baggu because of how sturdy they are and the fact they come with a compact pouch for easy storage. I use mine when I’m shopping, to carry my lunch when I go out, to put items in to give to someone and tons of other countless uses. Plus they look super cute all while helping keep me from adding to the 1 trillion plastic bags that will be consumed globally this year.
The kitchen is another area of the home that produces a TON of waste. Especially when it comes to food waste – don’t even get me started on the food scraps that get tossed in the trash. And cling wrap should be outlawed in my very personal opinion. Here are some zero waste essentials that will make working the kitchen more enjoyable – without harming the planet.
For more ideas on having a sustainable kitchen, check out my blog post 3 Reasons to Reduce Food Waste.
11. Produce Bags
- Made from organic cotton
- Fair Pay Company
These produce bags are great for taking out shopping to buy your fresh fruit and vegetables instead of relying on the plastic bags supplied in supermarkets. They’re made from organic cotton which was grown without harsh pesticides or herbicides and requires less water and energy to produce. These bags were produced by Eco-Bags, who make sure that they pay and treat all their workers fairly, so not only are you reducing waste but you’re supporting a good business too!
- Replaceable head
- Can be composted or recycled
- Long handle
- Gentle or abrasive heads available
- Plastic Free
This bamboo dishwashing brush is a great plastic-free alternative to plastic sponges. The bristles last for a long time but once they start to wear down, you can buy a replacement head and compost the old one. The long handle makes it easy to clean all your glasses and dishes, and you can even buy a more abrasive head for those difficult bits! Not only is this a great brush, but the company is committed to donating 1% of its annual profits to worldwide environmental causes.
- Plastic-free alternative to dish soap
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Pairs well with dishwashing brush (see product #12)
- Each order removes + recycles 1lb of beach trash
- Coconut oil leaves your hands soft, not dry
This dishwashing block will replace your dishwashing liquid in plastic bottles. The concentrated formula means that a little bit goes a long way, making it last longer. Concentrated formulas also help prevent water waste (cause think about it, to make liquid soap, you need water). They use vegan and cruelty-free ingredients, plus for each order the company will collect and recycle 1lb of trash found on beaches! An added bonus is that as well as cleaning your dishes, the coconut oil used can leave your hands feeling soft after you’ve finished washing up.
14. Unpaper Towels
- Reusable and handmade
- 100% organic cotton
- Perfect for all over the home
These unpaper towels are a great way to reduce the mass amounts of paper towels that we throw away each year. These can be reused over and over again, simply put them in the washing machine when they’re dirty, and then they’re ready to go again. Their absorbance increases with every wash, so they’ll get better each time you use them!
- Reusable alternative to plastic wrap
- Compostable at end of life
- Vegan Alternatives Available
- Prevents food waste
- Various size options
Beeswax wraps are a fantastic alternative to plastic wrap or, in some cases, tinfoil. These can be used for anything, from wrapping sandwiches to covering cut fruit or veg. You simply use your hands to warm them up and mold them around what you’re wrapping, and then they keep the food fresh! They’re easy to clean too, just wash them in some mild water with a little bit of soap, and then they’re good to use over and over again. You can buy them in different sizes so they suit anything that you need to wrap.
16. Compost pail
- Ideal for apartment living
- Absorbs odors
- Holds 1.8 gallons
- Made from 50% recycled materials
- Replacement Filters Available
Using a compost pail is a great way to start composting at home! Or even for those wanting to collect compost for community composting schemes. I live in an apartment and use this exact pail every day. I take the scraps to my local farmers market food scrap collection site every Saturday. If that’s not open, my second option is my community garden. Made partially from recycled steel, this compost bin has a charcoal filter which keeps nasty smells at bay. They also offer replacement filters as it will need replacing every 6 months. By using a compost bin you reduce the amount of food waste being sent to landfill, where it is unable to decompose properly. Plus you can use your homemade compost in your garden as a fertilizer!
Cleaning products often come in plastic and contain less than desirable ingredients. Out of all the zero waste essentials listed here, these may be the most important in terms of double impact. When you rinse something down a drain, it can have serious effects on water quality. For example, conventional laundry detergent has phosphorus in it which contributes to eutrophication in waterways resulting in big algae blooms. This depletes the water of oxygen and can harm wildlife! So, better to choose cleaning products with both mindful packaging and sustainable ingredients.
Most of theseare from Blueland because they offer refillable, plastic-free products. But one is from another all-natural cleaning brand I love that makes a natural bleach alternative that does a bang up job.
For more tips on cleaning your home, check out my blog post Zero Waste Cleaning Guide: Tools, DIYs, + Products.
- Plastic Free + Refillable Laundry Tablets
- Vegan Friendly
- Cruelty Free
- Compostable Packaging
Around 700 million detergent jugs are thrown away every single year, so it is an awesome idea to switch to an eco laundry detergent. Blueland has developed a great one detergent along with many of their other innovative powder based products. The laundry tablets comes in a “Forever Tin” and you can also get one for their Oxi Boost Powder too. Refills come in compostable packaging and can simply be decanted into your forever tin.
So many conventional dishwasher detergents are packaged in plastic and what’s worse, is the individual capsules are also made of water soluble plastics, which leach micro and nano plastic into the waterways. This has a detrimental effect on aquatic life, and can even find its way into our own food and drinks. A great alternative for dishwasher detergent can be found at Blueland. They are ultra concentrated capsules, to reduce shipping weight and have completely compostable packaging.
19. Cleaning Spray
- Refillable + Plastic-Free
- Bathroom, Multi-Surface, Glass + Mirror spray options available
- Ultra Concentrated
- No added Water
- Free from Harsh Chemicals
Cleaning sprays from Blueland are refillable and plastic-free, but also contain clean ingredients. Not sure about you but I always find myself coughing and sneezing whenever conventional cleaning sprays are used. That’s why I consider Blueland cleaning sprays zero waste essentials – they’re not going to make me gag, or harm the planet.
Their tablets are designed to dissolve in water and can be added to reusable spray bottles. You can be sure that you are reducing your carbon footprint as the water-free tablets significantly reduce the CO2 emissions from transportation compared to conventional products. There are three different sprays to choose from: Bathroom, multi-surface and glass/mirror spray. I prefer the kit that includes them all!
- Natural Alternative to Bleach
- Add to Laundry or General Home Cleaning
- Leaping Bunny Certified
- 1% for the Planet Business
- Plastic Free Container
So many people love to use bleach, but did you know it can actually kill our aquatic life? And also potentially harm your lungs? This oxygen bleach is great for doing everything you would want to do with regular bleach, but is kinder to the environment. It also doesn’t come in plastic which is a huge plus. Whether you want to brighten up your clothes or use it around the home, this oxygen bleach is an absolute zero waste essential.
What did you think of these zero waste essentials? Which ones are you most excited to start using?
For more zero waste tips, be sure to check out these 60 easy tips for beginners.
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