17 Easy Zero Waste Swaps To Start Your More Sustainable Lifestyle
Let’s get real—we all create so much waste each year.
The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash daily, resulting in landfills or polluting waterways and sensitive ecosystems.
Zero waste swaps, like switching to reusable water bottles or a reusable bag, may seem small and meaningless, but collectively over time, they can make a massive dent in the waste epidemic.
Changing to a zero waste lifestyle can seem daunting, but small changes to your habits and integration of just a few reusable things to replace disposable ones can go a long way.
We’re firm believers in progress over perfection, because there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ way to approach low waste living.
So while this is our ultimate list of zero waste swaps, remember you don’t have to make all of them at once. Start with a few and add more as you get in the sustainable (swap) swing of things.
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The Full List Of Easy Sustainable Swaps For The Home
- Disposable Water Bottle | Visit Store
- Plastic Bags & Wrap | Visit Store
- Take-Out Containers | Visit Store
- Paper Towel Alternatives | Visit Store
- Laundry Detergent | Visit Store
- Dish Soap | Visit Store
- Refillable Products | Visit Store
- Shampoo & Conditioner | Visit Store
- Deodorant | Visit Store
- Dental Care | Visit Store
- Razors | Visit Store
- Hand Soap | Visit Store
- Lotion | Visit Store
- Makeup | Visit Store
- Sunscreen | Visit Store
- Face Wash & Makeup Removers | Visit Store
- Toilet Paper | Visit Store
1. Ditch Your Disposable Water Bottle
1.3 billion plastic bottles are discarded daily across the globe, leading to tons of plastic waste that can take upwards of 450 years to deteriorate, releasing harmful microplastics into surrounding ecosystems.
Fortunately, swapping to a plastic-free water bottle is one of the easiest zero waste swaps you can make.
Certified B Corps like Klean Kanteen could save you over 150 plastic water bottles annually. The metal water bottles are durable and available in several sizes, widths, and colors—each designed to keep hot liquids hot and cold drinks cold.
The chip-resistant, powder-finished, Insulated Classic features Climate Lock vacuum insulation alongside 18/8 BPA-free stainless steel.
The Climate Neutral company also offers upgrades like steel straws, interchangeable caps, and other accessories.
Or, ditch your flimsy plastic bottle with a colorful and durable Hydro Flask. The world-renowned manufacturer is known for their BPA and phthalate-free 18/8 stainless steel bottles.
Each Hydro Flask comes with a lifetime warranty for guaranteed durable drinkware—and if you’re still not sold, we’ve tested both brands and can attest to their quality.
2. Purge Your Life Of Plastic Bags & Wrap
Plastic food storage items may seem like a lesser evil, but they can contain harmful chemicals that negatively impact human health and the environment.
Single use plastic bags and plastic wrap can contain phthalates, known endocrine disruptors that can interfere with hormonal function and lead to various health complications, like infertility and cancer.
We’ve tested their wraps (and a bunch of other beeswax wraps) made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, coated with beeswax, tree resin, and organic coconut oil. Not only are they bee-autiful, but the biodegradable wraps also do a fantastic job at sealing and keeping leftovers safe.
Another eco swap we love is the reusable silicone bags from Stasher.
Stasher’s zero waste simple swaps replace all your plastic bag needs, ranging from snack bags and sandwich bags, to 104 oz mega freezer bags.
The dishwasher-safe, freezer-friendly, and microwave-ready bags eliminate the need for traditional plastic produce bags.
None of the options contain BPS, BPA, lead, phthalates, or latex if you’re unsure about the durability, our original Stasher bags are still holding strong after multiple years.
3. Stop Taking Take-Out Containers To The Trash
Hard plastic containers can contain Bisphenols, like BPA and BPS. These harmful chemicals are linked to countless health issues, like type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and developmental problems.
These compounds can leech into your food and cause so much waste, ending up in landfills or polluting the environment with microplastics, heavy metals, and dioxins.
Caraway offers some of the safest food storage containers in the form of high-quality glass containers coated with non-stick ceramic. They come in small, medium, and large sizes—available in the complete Food Storage Set with additional fabric-covered cabinet organizers.
We were impressed with the Air Release Technology, which kept our leftovers fresh and our fridge odor free. It also keeps food better for longer, reducing food waste.
The leak proof silicone lids on the Food Box make the perfect zero waste travel swap, whether you’re going out of town or to the office.
We preferred the vacuum-tight seal and double-wall insulation of the TKCanister for hot meals, as it keeps hot food hot almost all day.
4. Wipe Away Paper Towel Waste
We’re keeping the kitchen zero waste swaps coming—it is the number one source of household waste, after all—and what’s more ubiquitous in the kitchen than paper towels?
More than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year in the United States alone. Not only do paper napkins and towels contribute to deforestation, they use thousands of gallons of water and end up in landfills.
Paper towel alternatives are easy sustainable swaps anyone can make.
Ecologie by Danica’s reusable Swedish paper towel alternatives will Swede up your cleaning process using a 70% cellulose and 30% cotton blend that’s designed to absorb 15 times its weight in liquid.
We can’t confirm the exact weight the Swedish Sponge Towels can hold, but we can definitely say they hold a lot. We recommend dampening the cute designs before use, which we found helps them absorb more spillage.
Another zero waste product we adore is the 100% cotton flannel Unpaper Towels from Marley’s Monsters.
After testing, we know the towels meet the hundreds of 5-star reviews. The high-quality fabric gets more absorbent over time, while the roll-up design makes them easy to store on a standard paper towel dispenser.
5. Dodge Conventional Laundry Detergent
One of our top zero waste swaps starts in the laundry room. Not only can zero waste laundry detergent save money, it can remove compounds like parabens, phosphates, and harmful dyes from your home.
Blueland is the embodiment of sustainability, and their Laundry Starter Set doesn’t miss either. All you have to do is place one or two of the dry-form tablets into a load, and boom—stains and dirt are gone.
The tablets don’t contain any parabens, phosphates, ammonia, VOCs, chlorine bleach, or phthalates. They’re also vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and shipped in compostable or recyclable packaging.
VOYA will help you ditch liquid soap completely with their Laundry Detergent Strips.
Biodegradable, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, plant-based ingredients, and zero phosphates, SLS, SLES, fragrances, and dyes—these are easily one of the best sustainable swaps for the home.
Unless you’re air drying, you’ll need a replacement for dryer sheets, like reusable dryer balls. Organic wool dryer balls replace fabric softeners and dryer sheets, reducing drying time by absorbing excess moisture.
6. Sustainable Suds For Dirty Dishes
A few drops of dish soap might not seem like a big deal, but conventional options contain harmful chemicals that can kill aquatic ecosystems and lead to burns, skin irritation, and allergic reactions in humans.
That’s where zero waste kitchen swaps come in to clean the mess left behind by traditional liquid soap.
You won’t find any chlorine bleach, VOCs, parabens, phthalates, or petroleum in the product.
The eco-friendly dishwasher tablets are vegan, gluten-free, soy, and nut-free, and have certifications from EPA Safer Choice, Cradle to Cradle, Leaping Bunny, and MADE SAFE.
The best part?
The Certified B Corp doesn’t use any plastic packaging or PLA pods, and all orders are shipped in recyclable cardboard or compostable materials.
Suds & Co bar soap concentrate is another eco-friendly swap to consider. We love (as much as one can love doing dishes) using the palm oil free Refillable Organic Dish Soap made from coconut oil and natural essential oils.
We love that it’s shipped in compostable cardboard packaging with an optional reusable tin, but we love that it cuts through grease without drying out our skin even more.
7. Join the Refill Revolution
Have you heard the news?
The refill revolution is taking over. Reusable swaps for the kitchen, bathroom, and home are one of the quickest ways to reduce waste.
Blueland offers countless refillable cleaning products, whether you’re on dish duty or need to zero in on the toilet. The Clean Suite Kit—with forever reusable pump and spray bottles—will eliminate harmful chemicals from the home with one purchase.
Simply fill up the Forever Bottle with warm water, pop in a tablet, and you’re ready for an environmentally green squeaky clean home.
But don’t forget to wash behind your ears! Plaine Product’s refillable body wash is anything but wasteful.
The vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil-free mixture is hypoallergenic and doesn’t contain any sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicone, or synthetic fragrances.
The Certified B Corp and Carbon Neutral brand uses aluminum bottles for their body wash refills and shampoo. Once the bottle is empty, it can be sent back for cleaning, sanitizing, and reuse.
8. Embrace Bars For Hair Care
Low waste swaps, like switching to a zero waste shampoo or conditioner, can reduce waste, save money, and get rid of nasty chemicals from your bathroom routine.
We absolutely adore the shampoo bar from Ethique. They have targeted options depending on your hair care concerns, like the Frizz Wrangler™ for dry, frizzy ‘dos.
Each bar is vegan, cruelty-free, and palm oil-free and can be safely wrapped in recycled paper or nothing at all. Ethique’s non-plastic packaging is also 100% compostable, so you don’t have to worry about more waste piling up.
But don’t forget to show your roots a bit of love with the conditioner bars from EcoRoots.
The Conditioner Bars are available in 11 unisex scents, like CoCoLime Colada, Lavender, and Moroccan Oil. EcoRoots doesn’t use any silicone, phthalates, or parabens, handcrafting each bar from coconut oil and cocoa butter instead.
Each bar is vegan and cruelty-free and shipped in plastic free packaging.
9. Wick Away Sweat With Zero Waste Deodorant
Zero waste lifestyle swaps don’t have to be overly complex.
In fact, a mere pit-tance of a swap like zero waste deodorant is a simple, stink-free way to start.
Not only will this remove hard-to-recycle composite plastic packaging, but it will get rid of harmful ingredients and additives.
Ethique wicks away sweat and the competition with their zero plastic deodorants, available in Rustic Citrus, Unscented, and Botanica Floral scents.
The New Zealand-based Certified B Corp uses compostable cardboard tubes with recipes that don’t contain animal products, palm oil, aluminum, or toxic compounds.
Instead, Ethique utilizes antibacterial magnesium hydroxide, anti-inflammatory zinc oxide, and various essential oils suited for all skin types.
Or beat the heat with Papr Cosmetics in six scents with notes ranging from lemongrass to sandalwood.
None of the vegan deodorant sticks contain parabens, silicone, sulfates, or aluminum. The packaging is fully recyclable and biodegradable, and for every tree Papr uses, they plant a new one in its place.
10. Pearly Sustainable Teeth
Reducing waste in the bathroom doesn’t end with your luscious locks or lubricated pits.
It also extends to your pearly whites.
Traditional, disposable toothbrushes can create some of the most waste, with more than 1 billion being thrown away annually in the United States alone.
The Climate Neutral brand offers one of the few fully biodegradable sustainable toothbrushes available, making it totally zero waste.
It’s made from sustainably sourced bamboo with plastic-free castor bean oil bristles. Zero Waste Store ships its catalog of zero waste products in plastic-free, compostable packaging.
Each glass jar contains a month’s supply for brushing twice a day. All you have to do is chew the sulfates, parabens, and harsh chemical-free paste and brush with a wet toothbrush.
The paste doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or animal testing, using ingredients like Canadian glacial clay and natural flavors instead.
11. Shave Away Razor Waste
The humble zero waste razor is another item on our zero waste checklist.
The colorful plastic-handled razor you see at the drugstore can take upwards of 1,000 years to break down, according to the EPA.
ZWS Essentials solves this problem with its simple, classic, and effective unisex safety razor.
It’s available with long or short handles, so you can perfect your shave. All razors come with ten blades, with replacements readily available.
Suds & Co. offers an Organic Shave Bar that not only comes in a convenient plastic-free and travel-ready tin, but is filled with nourishing ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic sunflower, and organic shea butter.
We tried it and found it not only provides a smooth shave, but leaves our skin feeling supple and hydrated.
12. Fight Germs & Plastic Waste
If you’re on a zero waste journey, you may be looking for alternatives that won’t break the bank.
Would you believe us if there were zero waste swaps that save money?
Swapping to eco-friendly hand soaps are easy zero waste swaps that will benefit your skin, wallet, and the environment.
Blueland’s will help you make the swap with one purchase. The plastic-free, plant-based dissolvable in water formula is tough on germs and gentle on the skin.
Paper packaged refill tablets are affordable and don’t contain any parabens, phosphates, ammonia, VOCs, chlorine bleach, or phthalates. Like other products, the hand soap is Cradle to Cradle, Leaping Bunny (cruelty-free), and EPA Safer Choice certified.
Or suds-up with Ethique’s hand wash concentrates. Instead of hard-to-pronounce chemicals, Ethique uses plant-derived surfactants and babassu oil to cut through grime and dirt.
Each package can make 350ml of hand soap and is cruelty-free, vegan, and palm oil-free.
13. Stay Sustainably Soft With Zero Waste Lotion
Another zero waste swap for beginners is to change something you already use daily, like zero waste lotion or lotion bars. Changing something you already use can help you produce less waste without making major adjustments to your lifestyle.
EcoRoots’ Lotion Bar makes the switch even easier.
One of the bars can replace up to three conventional plastic bottles from ending up in landfills. The lotion contains six plant-based ingredients, like shea butter for hydration and candelilla wax to seal in moisture.
The Lotion Bar is travel-friendly, doesn’t contain any parabens, silicone, or phthalates, and is vegan and cruelty-free.
For a refillable option, consider Plaine Products again. The beauty brand specializes in all-natural, vegan, cruelty-free, and palm oil-free products, and the Body Lotion is no exception.
The formula contains hydrating and absorbent ingredients—like organic aloe, safflower oil, and rosehip oil—in a hypoallergenic formula perfect for babies or sensitive skin.
Once you run out, simply send the aluminum bottle back in the container it came in, and Plaine will clean, sanitize, and repurpose it free of charge.
14. Conscious Cosmetics
Cosmetics can be a hard category to make low or zero waste, but there are brands making easy sustainable beauty swaps.
Dab Herb utilizes artisan craftsmanship with plant-based ingredients to protect the skin and environment. Dab’s zero waste makeup range consists of foundation, mascara, eyeshadows, lip balms, and more—all developed with certified organic, wild-crafted, and food-grade ingredients.
You can make the swap with complete sets, like the Transitional Detox Makeup Set, or start small with singles.
Another brand to reduce the number of products behind your cupboard is Axiology. They deal with plastic waste through products like Balmies and Multisticks or plastic-free 3-in-1 crayons suited for eyes, cheeks, and lips.
Collections like Cotton Candy Sky offer three vegan, cruelty-free, and palm oil-free crayons in light pink shades. The recyclable box doubles as a traveling case, and each stick is made from 10 all-natural ingredients, like sunflower seed oil and kokum seed butter.
15. Fight The Sun And Protect Mother Earth
Zero waste sunscreen is a must-have for skin and health care—making this one of the most important zero waste essentials.
Roughly 4,000–6,000 tons of traditional sunscreen ends up in oceans annually, negatively impacting coral reefs, marine life, and other sensitive ecosystems.
FORAH’s blend of reef-safe, certified organic, cruelty-free, and non-GMO products helps end the issue.
You can select from small tubes of sunscreen or tin pots. FORAH uses aluminum packaging, meaning it’s recyclable in most regions. We love the Everyday mineral sunscreen for its SPF 30 protection and subtle fragrance.
Try ATTITUDE’s Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Stick for a lightweight, grease-free sunscreen. It’s formulated from coconut, sunflower, castor seed oils, and shea butter for replenishing moisture.
All ATTITUDE’s biodegradable sunscreens are unscented and SPF 30. The hypoallergenic products don’t include parabens, endocrine disruptors, PEGs, oxybenzone, or other reef bleaching compounds, either.
16. Wipe Away Single-Use Makeup Removers
An estimated 20 million disposable makeup wipes are thrown into the trash daily.
Traditional makeup wipes are made from materials like polyester or polypropylene fibers, which don’t break down easily and leech microplastics into the environment.
The eco-friendly swaps come in glass jars without artificial colors or fragrances, formaldehyde, lanolin, mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, silicones, sulfates, and other harmful compounds.
The bar contains super-moisturizing creamed coconut butter and kaolin clay for its soothing properties. Ethique ensures the formula is non-greasy and is free of animal-based ingredients, animal testing, and palm oil.
17. Save Trees And Stay Clean With Reusable Toilet Paper
The last item on our list treats your most delicate areas—toilet paper. Switching to a sustainable tee-pee is one of the best zero waste swaps.
Conventional toilet paper ends up in sewers and landfills, consumes countless resources, and contains chlorinated bleach. The average American uses around 140 rolls yearly, or roughly 28 pounds.
That’s where brands like Marley’s Monsters come in to clean up the mess.
The reusable UNpaper Rolls are crafted with 100% soft cotton flannel and are reminiscent of traditional 3-ply options. Each roll includes 24 pieces you can rewrap around the compostable cardboard tube for reuse.
The edge of the toilet paper includes full wrap stitching to prevent fraying, so you can wipe as hard as need be.
And rest assured, Marley uses plastic-free shipping material and donates textile waste to recycling organizations.
However, we know reusable zero waste toilet paper isn’t for the faint of heart, so this one probably isn’t among our top zero waste swaps for beginners.
But if you’ve been at the game for a while, crown yourself king or queen of the low waste porcelain throne by trying this king of all zero waste swaps.
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Final Thoughts On Zero Waste Eco Swaps
We use countless everyday items, like paper towels, single-use plastics, and cosmetics. These items can be a necessary evil, but conventional options typically contribute to the plastic waste epidemic or contain harmful chemicals.
Fortunately, there are small and simple zero waste swaps you can make that have a massive impact.
Switching to a reusable water bottle and a reusable bag for food can eliminate countless single-use plastic bottles and plastic wrap from ending up in the ocean. Swapping to sustainable beauty supplies can get rid of even more waste and harmful chemicals.
But the easiest changes are using the things you already own. Using old rags as reusable paper towels or empty glass mason jars as glassware goes a long way.
While zero waste products make living less wastefully easier, you should first consider what reusable products you already own and see if you can replace disposables with those before resorting to buying new.
Buying items secondhand from thrift stores is another way to get on top of the waste problem.
If you know someone trying to reduce waste in their life, send them this list of zero waste items to give them a leg up.