Five Stupidly Easy Zero-Waste Swaps
If you keep up with eco news, you’ve probably come across the term “zero waste”. If not, I’m here to tell you all about this new lifestyle. Don’t let the name freak you out! “Zero waste” sounds intimidating but “minimal waste” is a better way of describing it. Basically, produce as little trash as you’re capable of - that’s it.
I won’t go into the philosophical details and how peeps live a full blown zero waste life. BUT! Imma give you the basics because I think we can agree that we all have a massive waste problem, so zero waste is most def a way of addressing that. Ever heard of the 4 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose)? Zero waste relies on all of these, but also adds a “C” for composting.
If you’re not ready to leap into a full-fledged zero waste life, no worries! We’ve rounded up 5 simple lifestyle changes to help you minimize your waste footprint.
01. Biodegradable Toothbrushes
You’ve probably seen this floating around because it’s gradually emerging into mainstream markets, and it’s a beginner zero waste product. Sure, they don’t come in neon colors or cost as little as 2 bucks like conventional brushes do, but the environmental damage ain’t worth it y’all.
bogobrush Soooooo admittedly this is a shameless plug because we’ve worked with their founder Heather McDougall (PYWP Episode 40) and she’s amazing! It’s not the only awesome-biodegradable-adorable-ecofriendly toothbrush on this list.
The Goodwell Company stocks a shit ton of biodegradable refills for reusable toothbrushes. Yes, these reusable toothbrushes are made from plastic - but it’s a REFILLABLE TOOTHBRUSH you guys! That’s an environmental warriors wet dream right there.
02. Reusable Bottle
Oh, the good ol’ reusable bottle. It’s a classic sustainable purchase and is in fact a zero waste item. It’s definitely the easiest thing to get your hands on and if we’re being honest, bottled water is just kinda freaky anyway, right? Not to mention paying for it and staying stocked up on it is a mild pain in the ass.
Klean Kanteen is in our opinion the TOP DOG in the sustainable reusable bottle market. They are a 1% For the Planet member and a certified B-Corp. All of their stuff is made from metal which means it’s durable as hell. I’ve dropped mine on rock, asssssfault and pillows and it survived! But the only downside there is they’re a bit heavy.
If you’d prefer a lighter option, we recommend the classic Naglene. You can find them just about anywhere, they’re cheap and durable enough for most people just be careful about leaving it out full of water on a freezing night. You’ll crack that bad boy unless you buy a black bottle. Black don’t crack my dood. And what’s nice about a translucent bottle is that you can actually use it to measure water out for backpacking/camping meals!
Lastly there’s the beloved Kokua founded by Tawni Schall who was actually one of the FIRST to do an interview for our podcast! They give back to projects with Konbit Haiti (we may have interviewed their founder Ryan too PYWP Episode 56).
03. Reusable Bags
This is another pretty accessible one that doesn’t get used enough IMO. I get it - you forget to take them with you, or you’re just picking up a few things after work, or you don’t want to be THAT person who asks the cashier to fill up your dolphin-printed bag (or have the adventure of using your own bag at self-checkout.) But like biodegradable toothbrushes, reusable bags have too many environmental benefits to ignore. Once you get in the habit of using them it becomes normal to be the person arguing with the self checkout that just doesn’t get that you don’t need its plastic bags.
Another pro tip: Leave reusable bags in the trunk of your car so it's hard to forget them at home. Next time you’re loading plastic bags in your car you’ll see them there and think to yourself “I’m a piece of shit”.
Oh, and don’t worry, there’s no shameless plug for this one (mainly cause we don’t stock ‘em...althouuugh, we do have ChicoBag in our shop and a great interview with their founder Andy Keller on the Protect Your Wild Podcast.
Reuseit stocks a tooooon of reusable shit. It’s like an online reusable supermarket - pretty dope if I do say so myself! So you can find your bags (and your bottles!) here.
ChicoBag is also a brand to check out. Their is high end AF but, buy one or two ChicoBags made of their RePETe material (99% Recycled materials) and you’ll be set. They hold a lot, are durable and
This is also another item that’s pretty easy to find. If you can’t find it at a supermarket chain near you though, check your local health food stores (those hippies are bound to have a few.)
04. Reusable Safety Razors
Have ya ever seen your grand papi shave? He probably used a safety razors. For score and seven years ago (or maybe more years I don’t keep track) they were replaced by disposable razors, which has ended up being shit for the planet. They look hella scary but if tons of people have managed to use them without cutting off a toe or leaving a gash in their cheek, pretty sure we can too.
Safety razors tend to be more expensive upfront, but obvs you don’t have to buy them nearly as frequently as your run of the mill razor, so you save money in the long run.
Classic Shaving stocks a bunch of safety razors in a wide range of prices.
You can actually get safety razors from the aforementioned WalMart, as well as Amazon (basically online WalMart amirite?). You have to decide if the tradeoff of buying a sustainable product from an unsustainable company is worth it for you though.
P.S. You can even use one of those cool old brushes to go REALLY old school.
05. Recycled toilet paper
Let’s face it - reusable toilet paper is just grosser compared to recycled toilet paper, so don’t hesitate to go with recycled. Even though it’s not exactly the norm in the toilet paper aisle, like bamboo brushes it’s also becoming more and more common. And before I make you suffer through toilet paper and shit puns, here are your better brands for zero waste toilet paper:
Seventh Generation has a buttload (oops, there’s the pun) of toilet paper. From double rolls to single rolls, unbleached to extra soft...who knew something to wipe your ass could have so much variety?
Green Forest also has a shit ton (last pun, I swear!) of not just toilet paper, but also paper towels, napkins, and tissues (but really, is there a difference between napkins and tissues?)
Feeling a little overwhelmed? That’s normal. But you don’t need to make these changes at once! If you’re the hella organized type you can make a schedule of when to transition to the next thing. If (like me) you’re not, then just get a feel for using 1 thing on the list before you move onto the next so that your habits stay sustainable.
And with those green nuggets of wisdom my friends, as you’re transitioning to a lower waste lifestyle remember that you’re doing it to #protectyourwild.
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By Darian Williams, ALDA's Blog and Digital Marketing Specialist Intern