Many of us have taken on new projects and hobbies while quarantined at home in 2020. For me, I've been learning more about zero-waste lifestyles (or realistically, as little-waste lifestyles). You might be familiar with zero-waste living because of viral images of people producing only a single mason jar of waste a year.
While I don't think I'm in a place to adopt the "one Mason jar per year" form of zero-waste, I did learn that there are multiple ways I can cut back on single-use plastics and products. While there are trade-offs for everything — the fuel, packaging, and other resources it takes to make and transport a product — I did want to try incorporating zero-waste swaps into my lifestyle as much as possible. I primarily did so to cut back on my waste, but in the process, I've also saved money with these longer-lasting products. Let's discuss.
Swap #1: Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bar, $15
Did you know that a single shampoo bar is equivalent to three bottles of shampoo? When I learned this, my frugal heart jumped with joy. As someone with a super sensitive scalp, I love this bar, and am happy that it's also plastic-free, vegan, cruelty-free, sustainably made, and palm oil-free.
While Rocky Mountain Soap Co. isn't a zero-waste company (yet), I do appreciate that they are working toward this goal with products that are 100% natural, handmade, GMO-free, and cruelty-free. I also decided to go with bar soap for the same reason I went with a shampoo bar — it lasts longer than the stuff in plastic bottles.
Instead of buying a new plastic razor every month or so, I decided to purchase a razor I'd be able to use forever (with replaceable blades, of course). The best thing about Albatross is that they take back your used blades and upcycle them to create reusable utensils. Note: Using a safety razor does take practice!
I was honestly tired of buying a new bottle of mouthwash every month, so when I discovered mouthwash tablets, I was thrilled. While I haven't been able to find any tablets containing fluoride (instead, I make sure my toothpaste has this ingredient), I do love the Georganics product, which is vegan, cruelty-free, and initially comes in a recyclable glass jar. Refills also come in recyclable packaging.
The initial glass jar comes with 180 tablets. Since I use two each day (morning and night), that means the entire jar lasts for 90 days. The refill comes with 720 tablets, so I can use it for almost an entire year without having to repurchase.
When I was sent these products earlier this year, I didn't think it would change my life as much as it did. Because of this bidet, I haven't had to buy toilet paper since March, which definitely came in handy during the pandemic toilet paper shortage. Instead of using toilet paper, we use the bum towels to dry off and regularly wash them with our normal loads of laundry.
Instead of buying plastic bottle after plastic bottle of hand soap, this Blueland product ensures that you only need to buy a single glass dispenser. To fill the bottle, you use cruelty-, paraben-, and phthalate-free dissolvable tablets that arrive in compostable packaging, and each individual refill is $2. According to Blueland, after one year, you'll have saved yourself from having to buy about 25 single-use plastic bottles of hand soap.
I've owned this water bottle for over a year and take it with me everywhere I go. It prevents me from having to purchase drinks while out and about, and sometimes, I'll even bring it inside cafes if I'm only looking to grab a bite to eat. I honestly can't remember the last time I drank from a plastic water bottle and it's all thanks to this item.
Important note: Something I learned throughout my research is that before you buy zero-waste swaps, you should use up the products you already have (since otherwise, you'd be wasting those). With that in mind, I'm still using up other household products before purchasing their zero-waste counterparts. The items above are the zero-waste swaps I have been able to make, have used for several months, and would recommend to others.