We’ve made a mega list of zero waste swaps that are organised alphabetically and categorized to help you make the swap to more sustainable products. Phew, my fingers hurt!
I believe that any small change to our routines and shopping habits will have a positive impact on the environment, which is why should focus on replacing everyday items with more eco-friendly alternatives that are kinder to the planet.
However, it is important to keep in mind that going zero waste does not mean getting rid of everything you own and replacing it with sustainable alternatives. In fact, that goes against the very concept of zero waste. Instead you should use up your current items and when you run out, you can return here!
This is constantly growing list, so I’ll be creating separate reviews and guides for a lot of the products here too ✨
- Bathroom & Toiletries
Bathroom & Toiletries
Liquid soap requires five times more energy to produce and nearly 20 times more energy to package, and we use about seven times more liquid soap than bar soap. This means they’ll last longer and you’ll be saving waste!
Soap bars made with natural ingredients that are gentle on the skin and the environment are really easy to find, and they typically come in cardboard packaging that can be composted or recycled.
Here is one of our go-tos:
It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and plastic-free!
A zero waste alternative to traditional conditioner is a solid conditioner bar. Unlike traditional liquid conditioners that come in plastic bottles that need to be recycled and contain chemicals that can harm the environment, solid conditioner bars are typically made with natural and organic ingredients that are gentle on hair and the planet.
There are a lot of different brands that offer solid conditioner bars, so you can choose one that suits your hair type and preferences. Our favourite brands are LUSH and Ethique
Plastic cotton buds are a menace once they have been thrown away: they can end up in the ocean and landfills taking up to 500 years to biodegrade!
A simple eco-friendly alternative is to switch to bamboo cotton buds, which can be fully composted in as little as 4-6 months. Or, if you’d prefer to move away from a single-use item and reduce waste, you could get a silicone swab that can be washed and reused.
Traditional dental floss is typically made from synthetic waxed nylon, a type of plastic, or Teflon, a synthetic material that is also used to make cookware. Safe to say it’s definitely not eco-friendly.
There are lots of zero waste flossing options, including floss made from corn and natural waxes, or from bamboo or silk. The best option is bamboo, as the floss made with corn is technically a type of plastic, and will not decompose in a regular garden compost.
Watch out! Some flossing products market themselves as eco-friendly, still contain small amounts of plastic to make fibres, these will not be fully biodegradable. These dental floss spools are fully compostable and come packed in recyclable paper box.
Deodorant and antiperspirants have a lot of ingredients that are bad for the environment, let alone the plastic waste from discarding the packaging once they’re empty. Aerosol cans in particular contain gas that contribute to air pollution and climate change.
Fortunately, there are lots of eco-friendly and zero-waste deodorants available.
My favourite is Salt of the Earth’s Deodorant Crystal, which I’ve reviewed. The deodorant crystal prevents odour for longer than 24 hours, and a single crystal can last up to a years or more: meaning it is really budget-friendly. It’s a must buy!
The UK has made steps to reduce the environmental impacts of face wash: by banning microbeads in cleaning products in 2018. But face scrubs can still contain a range of additives that are toxic for the environment!
There are lots of face washes and exfoliators that use natural ingredients and are completely zero waste – especially if you use a soap bar!
UpCircle have a range of face exfoliators that are vegan, made in the UK, and come in 100% recyclable packaging!
Their Face Scrub is one of our household favourites.
When your plastic hairbrush breaks beyond repair, swap to a wooden one! Wooden hair brushes are typically made from sustainably sourced materials, such as bamboo, and are biodegradable, which means they won’t contribute to the accumulation of plastic waste in landfills or the ocean.
When it’s time to dispose of your wooden hairbrush, you can simply compost it, which will allow it to break down naturally without harming the environment. This brush is 100% biodegradable and plastic-free:
Tampons and pads are essential products for people who menstruate, even if many of these products are not good for the environment once they are discarded. As well as being wrapped in plastic, tampons themselves are made up of around 90% plastic.
However there are a range of reusable or even compostable menstrual products that can be used as an alternative.
To be clear, I don’t menstruate – so I won’t pretend that I know right from wrong! Instead, my partner, who has been using a silicone menstrual cup for over five years, has written this recommendation:
For me using a menstrual cup is just as easy as using traditional and historically more popular products such as tampons and pads. As well as being more sustainable I’ve found the money-saving aspect a great bonus.Lucy – using a Mooncup for the last 5 years
Not only do some moisturisers and lotions come in plastic and non-recyclable containers, but some ingredients in body lotions are harmful to the environment: such as fragrance and parfum, parabens, retinyl palmitate, triethanolamine, and polyacrylamide.
Body butters and balms are much better as moisturisers as they’re typically made with natural and organic ingredients that are better for your skin.
Look for moisturisers that are made using natural ingredients and come in glass or metal containers, which are recyclable and more environmentally friendly than plastic.
Our current favourite zero waste cosmetics brand is Upcircle, which we have reviewed!
A safety razor is a simple and easy way to swap your plastic disposable razors for a less wasteful option. Instead of the plastic waste created by disposable razors, all you need to replace on your safety razor is the metal blade once it becomes blunt and unhygienic.
The other bonus is that replacing your safety razors is much cheaper than replacing your plastic disposable ones. It’s a no-brainer!
Much like conditioner bars, you can find shampoo bars are a solid version of traditional liquid shampoo that can be used to cleanse hair and scalp. They are designed to be more sustainable and eco-friendly, and will last you much longer than a liquid shampoo.
Unless you’re purchasing a bidet or fancy giving reusable toilet cloths a go, I imagine you’d rather stick with toilet paper!
The best eco-friendly toilet rolls are made from recycled paper or bamboo, as opposed to rolls made with virgin wood. Recycled and Bamboo toilet rolls are generally considered more eco-friendly than regular brands because they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions to make and no deforestation is needed to produce the paper.
My personal favourite is Naked Sprout toilet paper, which I’ve reviewed!
One of the easiest zero waste swaps you can make is to a bamboo toothbrush. Unlike plastic brushes, which can take up to 500 years or more to breakdown, bamboo toothbrushes have a biodegradable bamboo handle and can come with natural bristles.
I’ve been using this pack that comes with a refillable bamboo dental floss and a nice travel case for your brush:
There are some really simple recipes to make your own toothpaste, but if you can’t be bothered with the faff there are some really good natural toothpaste brands that come in recyclable packaging that’ll help reduce the amount of waste you’re putting into landfill.
Natural toothpastes that contain ingredients such as fluoride and xylitol have also been shown to kill bad bacteria in the mouth and reduce plaque.
We’ve tried a few different brands, and our favourite is Waken’s Toothpaste – it’s got a great consistency, unlike some eco-friendly toothpastes, and it feels like your breath is fresh after using it.
It’s incredibly tricky to create your own dishwasher detergent, but luckily there is a wide range of eco-friendly dishwasher tablets available. These tablets are often made using non-toxic natural ingredients, such as naturally-derived minerals and plant-based enzymes, which are much safer for the planet than the hazardous chemicals in conventional tablets.
Furthermore, these tablets are typically wrapped in biodegradable packaging and sold in recyclable containers, making them a more sustainable choice.
I’ve personally tried a few different brands, and have stuck with Homethings Dishwasher Tabs.
There are lots of eco-friendly cleaning brands that offer non-toxic and refillable surface cleaners, such as Ecover and Ocean Saver. Making your own zero waste surface cleaner is also simple and cost-effective, and can be a great way to reduce waste and avoid harsh chemicals.
Our current favourite is Ocean Saver’s refillable anti-bac tablets: you simply fill up an old spray bottle with water, drop in one of their tablets and spray away!
Aluminium Foil / Tin Foil
Aluminium foil (commonly called tin foil here in the UK) is an affordable and incredibly versatile kitchen product. You can bake with it, wrap up leftovers, and even use it to wrap up your lunch. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly eco-friendly as it’s often a single-use item.
There are several eco-friendly alternatives to aluminium foil. For baking you can use silicone baking sheets, for covering things in the oven you can use silicone lids, and for wrapping up food you could use glass food storage containers.
Replacing the traditional plastic bin bags is tricky. The best way to reduce your waste is to try recycling and composting as much as you can.
However, reusable bin liners do exist, eliminating the need to buy and throw away single-use plastic bin liners.
One of the best-reviewed, the Moonie Reusable Bin Liner, is leakproof and machine washable, making it easy to use it for your daily rubbish bin.
This single-use plastic product can be easily replaced with beeswax wraps. Beeswax wraps are made from cotton and coated in a tacky wax that allows you to mould the wrap around bowls, containers, or straight on to food to keep it fresh.
It’s able to be washed and reused, then once it begins to deteriorate, it can be composted if cut into fine strips.
There are several eco-friendly alternatives to coffee pods. Some options include using paper or biodegradable pods that can be composted or using reusable coffee filters instead of disposable ones. There are also some companies that offer recyclable or biodegradable coffee capsules.
If you have a coffee machine, like a Nespresso, that requires coffee pods, you should try these reusable metal pods:
In 2018 the UK produced around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste, which is worth around £19 billion. Yikes.
To cut down on throwing food away, whether you deem it edible or not, composting will help to reduce the amount that is sent to landfill. Getting a garden compost bin will not only help to reduce food waste, but it’ll also create nutrient-rich food for your plants.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to an outdoor space to keep a compost bin (and don’t mind spending quite a bit) Lomi has developed an indoor kitchen composter that can compost your organic waste in around 24 hours!
Reusable cloth towels, also known as ‘Swedish Dishcloths’ are much more sustainable than paper towels and can be washed and reused multiple times, reducing waste. You can even find compostable kitchen cloths that are made from a combination of cellulose and cotton.
Swedish Dishcloths are 100% plastic-free and is safe to put into your home compost bin.
A pack of 6 would likely last you up to a year if you washed them regularly!
If you’re using sealable plastic bags to wrap up your lunch, there are some far more sustainable and long-lasting options.
Silicone bags are a durable and long-lasting option, and can be used to store sandwiches, snacks, and other food items. Waxed cotton bags are also a sustainable and biodegradable option, and can be used to wrap sandwiches, fruits, and vegetables.
Scrubber / Sponge
One of my favourite zero waste swaps for the kitchen is the coconut scrubbers that have replaced plastic washing up brushes and sponges.
These coconut scourers are particularly good, they’re really hardy for caked on dishes and pans and will last for months!
If you prefer to use a brush for your washing up, we’ve also been using these coconut brushes with replaceable heads.
There’s a bit of a joke about saving the world by avoiding using plastic straws, but my viewpoint is that it’s better to make small changes than not at all! I’m not a fan of cardboard straws as they tend to disintegrate too easily and you’ll need to buy them regularly.
I’d opt for a metal straw like these that come with a special brush to keep them clean!
Washing Up Liquid
There are many eco-friendly washing up liquid options available. These products use plant-based and biodegradable ingredients to clean dishes without harsh chemicals. Many of these brands also offer refill options that many zero waste stores will stock, so you can go in with a refillable container and top up!
Some popular brands include Ecover and Method.
There are also washing up soap bars available that I haven’t tried yet like Ocean Saver’s soap bar – if you try it let me know in the comments!
We’re working on adding more to this list to make it as comprehensive as possible, so if you’ve got any ideas or feedback about products we can add next leave us a note!