Do you want to start your zero waste journey but don’t know where to start? I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most useful zero waste essentials I own. These may or may not be ones you’ve heard of before, but they’re ones I get the most use out of. I hope this list gives you inspiration for your own zero waste essentials!
I know you’ve heard this before. It’s the simplest switch there is. However, I’d recommend water bottles made out of glass or stainless steel instead of plastic because they tend to last longer and because glass is easier to recycle. I purchased this glass water bottle from Target and this stainless steel one from Amazon.
I bought this one from Target. I enjoy going out for coffee or tea with my friends, but I don’t enjoy using disposable cups. Bringing this in to a coffee shop usually gets me a discount, and it sometimes sparks a discussion on zero waste.
If you’re reading this post, then you probably already know about how hazardous plastic is to the environment and to our health. I bought this glass one from The Container Store and I also own a stainless steel container.
Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags
Disposable plastic sandwich bags are terrible for the environment. I bought this cloth sandwich bag at The Container Store and I found it’s useful for both sandwiches and snacks.
Mesh Produce Bags and Cloth Bulk Bags
These are a wonderful alternative to the disposable produce and bulk bags. I bought these produce bags from Amazon and the bulk bags from Whole Foods. I like to keep a few of them in my car in case I forget them at home, or need to make a quick trip to the grocery store on the way home.
I drink tea daily so this is truly an essential for me. Loose leaf tea can usually be composted too. If you drink coffee, then reusable K cups or coffee filters may be a good alternative for you.
Reusable Grocery Bags
These are mentioned a lot as an alternative to plastic bags, but I think you should be wary with how many you get and for what purpose you’ll use them for. Do you only need them for the grocery store or will you use them in other aspects of your life? My roommate and I have a ton of reusable grocery bags, but that ends up being all we use them for. Because of this, I recommend you look for versatile, high quality bags that fit your lifestyle.
I try to always carry around a cloth napkin. I use them as an alternative to disposable napkins, to hold food scraps until I can find a compost bin, and even use them to wipe up spills that happen on the go. I bought these from World Market but you can find a ton of beautiful handmade ones on Etsy.
Since you’ll be buying food in bulk instead of in packaging, you’ll need somewhere to store everything. Please don’t go out and buy new Mason jars for this. First, see if you can reuse pasta sauce, salsa, or jelly jars. If you don’t buy any of those in glass containers, then I’d recommend checking your local thrift store. I’ve only had to buy a large glass container to hold my rice and a glass pitcher for my homemade iced tea because I couldn’t find those at any thrift stores I went to.
These are obviously just for people who get periods. I was really skeptical of cloth pads before I tried them, but they really do work. Honestly, I think the hardest part is cleaning them. You can find them in different sizes and patterns from a variety of companies. I bought mine from Party in my Pants, and I especially like mine because of the metal snaps that secure the pad in place. These have eliminated panty liners from my life and I have no regrets.