Zero Waste Kit: (Almost) Everything You Need To Live Sustainably
Global waste is out of control. But if you’re here, you a) already know that and b). want to minimize your environmental impact.
It also means that you’re likely considering adopting (or already have adopted) the principles of a zero waste lifestyle. And a good place to start living the life of less waste is to build a zero waste kit.
While zero-waste is an amazing idea, we believe it’s important to know that “zero waste” is an ideal.
Which also means that we’re unlikely to achieve that ultimate goal, completely (none of us are!). But just because perfection is out of reach doesn’t mean you can’t make a big difference.
Implementing small changes over a period of time matters tremendously. It moves us from one end of the waste spectrum to the other.
But once you have the Zero Waste plan in place, sometimes you just need the right tools (or toolkit) to help you be as effective as you can. Think of this zero waste everyday kit it as a survival kit.
The stuff you really can’t live without when trying to go zero-waste.
It is, by no means, everything you need to be fully prepared for this lifestyle, but it’s a great way to get into it. To help build the habit.
When we first made the switch, these were the things we found invaluable to make the transition, things we use on a daily basis. However, remember to first use what you have already – the ultimate zero waste hack!
So without further ado, here’s what’s in our zero waste kit (or at least what we’re working towards!).
*This post contains affilate links
1. REUSABLE CUP
About Reusable Cups
Zero waste containers (including a reusable cup) of all shapes and sizes are super important. Especially for drinks.
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whatever your poison, this is a must-have item (for anyone, not just zero-wasters). It also makes a lot of financial cents (excuse the pun).
Think about it: really good ground coffee costs about $7 per week.
Buying coffee out every day, alternatively, would be roughly $30 per week at least. Over a year, that’s like a $5,000 saving! It pays to make at home and use a reusable cup!
And if you must buy out (because let’s be honest, the coffee does taste better), then look out for cafes that offer discounts for bringing your reusables.
Where to buy a Reusable Cup
We recommend a stainless steel insulated cup because it keeps your drink HOT or COLD, ALL DAY.
We’ve tried a bunch over the years, like the Zioroshi, the Keep Cup, the Hydroflask and most recently Frank Green. As you can tell we love our reusables.
We’re big fans of the Hydroflask as it’s super robust, great for coffee and cold liquids. We’ve used ours for years for everything from camping to days at the office.
2. REUSABLE UTENSILS & STAINLESS STEEL STRAW
About Reusable Utensils
This is all about the habit. Keep a set in your purse or briefcase and never find yourself picking up plastic at the office cafeteria.
Or worse, having brought your own lunch but realizing you’ve forgotten the tools to eat (come on, we’ve all been there). If you’re a straw person, don’t forget the stainless steel straw!
Where to buy Reusable Utensils
We also love that they’re all quite compact – saving you precious real estate in your bag!
3. REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS
About Reusable Grocery Bags
Instead of building up that annoying and environmentally destructive pile of plastic bags beneath your kitchen sink, switch to reusable bags.
Again, this is another really easy habit to build with a bit of effort. Even if you’re not going zero-waste, everyone should make the switch. Plastic pollution is rife, including in your house, so it’s a win win.
Where to buy Reusable Grocery Bags
Chances are, you probably have some bags lying around that will work, but if you have to buy, they’re cheap and available online.
Etsy has some great options – one of our favourites is DR Hand Knit Goods who make a recycled denim bag. Otherwise, these look like the best reusable bags we could find in each country: USA, Canada, UK and Europe.
We personally use a range of odd-bod bags but any of the above options will serve you well into the future. And they’re also easy to repair!
4. PRODUCE BAGS
About Produce Bags
Those little thin plastic bags you put produce in might not seem like a lot at the time, but that plastic adds up. While many things can be collected without a bag at all, some things (like leafy greens) are a little awkward to transport without it.
These are easily replaced with small organic cotton or mesh bags, which you can even make yourself out of scraps of fabric or old t-shirts you don’t wear anymore.
Where to buy Produce Bags
If you’re not DIY-crafty (not to worry we aren’t great at this either) you can easily pick one up on Etsy for some homemade artisan reusable totes. We love the look of the above pictured from Oh Little Rabbit on Etsy.
5. BAMBOO, ZERO WASTE TOOTHPASTE AND FLOSS
About Bamboo Toothbrushes
On average, one person will go through about 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. That’s a LOT of toothbrushes thrown away each year.
Check out this video on the Life of a Toothbrush if you don’t believe us. It’s horrifying!
Instead of a plastic handle, just swap to a bamboo one, which is biodegradable and sourced from fast-replacing resources.
There are heaps of options – you can read our in-depth reviews on the best zero waste toothbrushes.
About Zero Waste Dental Floss and Zero Waste Toothpaste
Zero waste options for each of these were not so common place (still not that common place) until recently. Both are admittedly pretty hard to manufacture in such a way as to avoid any landfill waste.
But thankfully with conscious consumer demand – the market has responded!
Where to buy Zero Waste Dental Products
We’ve written in-depth articles on all the dental poducts, to save you the time, the top picks would be:
- For toothbrushes, our pick is Brush with Bamboo where the bamboo handle is paired with plant-based bristles made from 100% Castor Bean Oil and is USDA Certified 100% Biobased
- For floss it’s the Lucky Teeth – it’s 100% vegan, cruelty-free and comes packaged in a glass jar. Once you’re done with the product, throw it in your compost and it will biodegrade in 60-90 days. Refills come in a small compostable cardboard box
- For fluoride-free toothpaste, Etee makes their own vegan, zero waste toothtabs
- For toothpaste with fluoride, Denttabs Toothbrush Tablets would be the best bet. They’re cruelty free, vegan friendly and are sold in fully compostable bags
6. REUSABLE SPRAY BOTTLE
About Reusable Spray Bottles
Here’s another single-use item that needs to go.
Surprisingly, not a lot of people think about this, but there are so many uses for one around the house. Cleaning products and hair products are probably the best examples.
Just get one or two reusable ones (you may have a bunch lying around the house already) and fill them with cleaner from your local bulk store or your own all-natural cleaning agents, essential oil mists, and more!
Here are some great recipes for home-made cleaning agents and scents:
- Basic vinegar or Castile soap cleaners
- Pine and juniper scented all-purpose cleaner
- Fermented orange peel all-purpose cleaner (this one’s great because you make it from your very won orange peel scraps- make use of your waste!)
- Surface cleaner (with abrasive qualities for tougher grime)
Where to buy Reusable Spray Bottles
If you don’t have any spares lying around at home or you need an extra spray bottle pronto, then check out this option by Replenish Co on Etsy (as pictured).
If you live in the UK this amber glass spray bottle looked like a simple yet sturdy option.
7. REFILLLABLE PEN
About Refillable Pens
Another item that goes under the radar. Most people don’t think about how wasteful standard ballpoint pens are. The tubes are plastic and lead so they have just as many greenhouse gases emissions as any other plastic product.
We know plastic pens are most often free, but do you really need one from every bank you’ve ever used?
Instead, much like the comeback of safety razors, join the latest trend, go back in time and get a classy looking refillable fountain pen you can refill and reuse for years and years (just be sure not to lose it!).
Where to buy Refillable Pens
You can find some pre-loved options on ebay that look like a steal and are still in excellent condition (*remember to look for one with a converter for the ink).
If you want to buy new though, the Lamy Safari is a great option, available in the US, UK and Australia (remember to get the converter and a bottle of ink!). This would also make a great zero waste gift!
For more, take a look at our eco friendly pens guide.
8. COTTON OR REUSABLE CLOTHS
About Reusable Cloths
These super versatile cloths replaces all sorts of every day papers. Wet wipes, paper napkins, paper towel, Kleenex, cotton balls to name a few.
Another hack that saves a bomb over time.
Keep a couple with you on the go (one as a hanky for your nose and one to dry your hands) and a few more at home for things like make-up removable and zero waste cleaning.
Then just a simple wash is all you need!
Where to buy Reusable Cloths
You can use old washcloths, cut-up retired t-shirts, or just plain old handkerchiefs.
9. REUSABLE FOOD WRAPS
About Reusable Food Wraps
Instead of using foil, Saran Wrap, and zip-lock bags for food and snacks, switch to reusable and washable beeswax wraps.
They keep food sealed, fresh, and tasty.
Of course, not everyone will jump on board with these, as they’re not vegan friendly, but they definitely eliminate plastic.
If you are vegan, fear not; you can also buy similar wraps that substitute beeswax for plant-based waxes or just go for organic cotton reusable snack/sandwich bags.
Where to buy Reusable Food Wraps
For all types of wraps Etsy definitely has the best artisan home-made selections with some really cool designs. EarthHero also has a decent range of options (including alternatives to food wraps), many of which are vegan.
10. FOOD STORAGE CONTAINER
About Food Storage Container
Zero waste containers can be pretty much anything, from reused jars to even that old stained plastic Tupperware in your cupboard.
Just because the zero waste lifestyle tries to minimize plastic use doesn’t mean you can’t continue to use plastic you already own and try to mitigate further waste.
If you want something a little fancier, you can buy plastic free food storage in the form of stacking glass or stainless steel bento containers with dividers and airtight lids to keep your food fresh and separated.
Not only can you use at home or for packing your lunch, but you can also bring them to restaurants for leftovers or ordering take-out.
You can even use them to do bulk shopping or purchase things at the deli counter. It’s easy to forget this on the fly, so get in the habit of keeping one in your bag just in case.
Where to buy Food Storage Containers
It’s always preferable to use what you have but if you need to buy new, EarthHero has an excellent range to choose from.
11. MENSTRUAL CUP
About Menstrual Cups
We’re getting a little personal here but a menstrual cup is honestly the best thing ever. They last for about 10 years, replacing about 2,400 tampons worth of waste!
This means no more plastic applicator and wrappers. No more synthetic scented cotton! It’s better for you and for the planet.
Just ask anyone who’s made the switch; they’ll tell you it’s life changing and they’re never going back.
Lots of options here, but we like the look of Saalt, because they donate 2% of their revenue to fund programs on sustainability, education, and women in need.
Where to Buy Menstrual Cups
12. PERIOD UNDERWEAR
About Period Underwear
While we’re on the topic of menstruation, period underwear perfectly complements the menstrual cup for your complete zero waste period kit.
Great for overnight or when you just need a break from the cup! We like Modibodi who again, gives back but also, they just really work well!
They have a range of options, including G-strings for lighter days. Big fan over here!
13. COMPLETE ZERO WASTE KITS
About Complete Zero Waste Kits
For those who lead hectic lives (like us!) you can get ready-to-go pre-made zero waste starter kits.
They usually have all the basics and are a good option for experimenting with a zero waste kit. Of course, if there’s something in particular you need make sure the kit has it covered.
They all come with somewhat different zero waste tools.
Seasoned zero wasters will probably have their favorite products but our best zero waste starter kit is Spruce and Pine Co (again) as we love their designs and there are so many options to choose from.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BUILDING A ZERO WASTE KIT
And the easier it is to make that switch the easier it is to build the habit (which will lead to more motivation and even more improvement on your path to zero-waste living!).
As always, remember that zero-waste is a journey not a destination, not perfect but totally achievable. By starting with just one (or a few) zero waste changes you’ll make a huge difference.
Sustainability is best achieved not by leaps and bounds, but rather one step (even one as small as a stainless steel straw) at a time.
Feedback / ideas / thoughts welcome in the comments below. If you’d like to receive regular updates from us, subscribe to our newsletter here.