Low Waste Product Swaps

Over the past couple of years I’ve gathered a small collection of low waste/eco-friendly products that I’ve used to replace single use plastic, wasteful items I have at home that I use regularly.

I only purchase things that I truly need (although I have been guilty of ‘impulse buys’ in the past), so some items I have at home still aren’t necessarily the most eco-conscious, but I do believe that’s it better to use what you have first before going out and buying something new (I’m also trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle, so rather than buying things I try and use what I have at home or borrow from others!).

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Can’t contain the excitement in my face at sharing these products with you guys 😉

Any who, enough about me, let’s get going on the list of low waste reusables I’ve tried-and-tested and my thoughts on them!

As always before purchasing any of these items, check out the second hand market, unless of course it’s a toothbrush 😉

Reusable Razor

This razor from Leaf Shave is an all-metal razor (available in black, silver, mercury, chrome, and gold) and has a maneuverable head that allows you to open and change the individual blades on (it also makes it a lot easier to clean and remove any clogged hair). I used to use disposable razors (which I’d be throwing away every month or so – as it became too blunt to use), but I’ve found this one to be 100 times better! I do dry the razor (I take it all apart and dry each individual piece) to prevent any rust (this isn’t necessary, I’m just over-precautious 😉 ), but once the razor blades have inevitably become too blunt to use, you simply remove them from the razor and store them in the metal disposal tin. Once the tin is full, you can take it to a metal scrap recycling facility or even post it back to the company, where they’ll recycle it for you! So there’s no waste.

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Reusable metal razor from Leaf Shave

As a starter pack you receive:

  • The Leaf razor
  • Solid metal stand
  • 50 blades // 100 edges
  • Blade disposer tin

(and you can visit the website to top up on any of the items above).

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The starter pack: instructions, metal stand + razor, razor blades, metal tin for used razor blades, and a small razor

Recycled Glasses

Parafina is a company I discovered at the Newcastle Vegan Markets! They create polarised sunglasses made from 100% recycled materials such as; rubber, tyres, cork stoppers, PET plastic, HDPE plastic, Bamboo, and aluminium soda cans. They have a huuuuuge variety of styles, and even come in hybrid options (i.e. bamboo and plastic – rather than just one or the other). I have a pair made from plastic, and another made from cork (both are absolutely fantastic!). If you’re in need of reading glasses, they do have a range of options for those too.

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When you purchase a pair of these glasses, you receive not only the glasses, but a case to keep them in, a cloth carrier bag, and a wooden pencil (which contains seeds inside the bottom black end of it, which you can plant into soil and a tree will grow from it!). The plastic the glasses arrive in can actually be sent back to the company (if you do not choose to keep it) and they will continue to use it for other sunglasses (so nothing goes to waste!).

Eyewear made from recycled materials (by Parafina Co)

Reusable Cups

It is said that around 500 billion disposable cups are produced every year (Wow, right?!), and most of them can’t be recycled because they’re lined with plastic. So if you’re sitting in the coffee shop ask for a mug to stay. BUT, if you must have it ‘to-go’, a reusable coffee cup can come in very handy 😉

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A reusable cup I customised myself from KeepCup

You don’t even necessarily need to go out and buy one either, a glass mason jar can be the perfect alternative if you’re getting something cold to drink. But, for hot drinks a keep cup or insulated water bottle is the better option (you don’t want to burn your hands! – although it will definitely wake you up in the morning, no need for caffeine 😉 ).

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I purchased mine from KeepCup, where I got to custom design how I wanted them to look! To remember to bring them, I’ve left one in each bag I take out with me, that way I always have it on hand (I’m hopeless otherwise with remembering).

You don’t even have to use them just for coffee either, I take snacks in them when I go out, and even get ice-cream put in them instead of the cups they have provided at the store (I also use their wooden taste-testing sticks instead of the plastic ones too to eat the ice-cream).

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Not just a coffee cup 😉 It makes for the perfect ice-cream cup, and you can opt to use their wooden taste-testing sticks rather than the plastic spoons too!

Sustainable Swimwear

I’ve been changing up my wardrobe over the past few years (very slowly, as I’m also trying not to buy anything I don’t need – so I’ll usually only purchase something if the old item breaks or is unwearable anymore), and along the way I discovered Wolven Threads swimwear. 11.2 BILLION pounds of plastic make their way into our oceans each year (crazy, aye?!), so to help counteract this, the company recycles the PET plastic by breaking it down into fine yarns that can be woven into textiles and clothing. They not only make swimwear, but leggings and shirts too!

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My two-piece from Wolven Threads

The swimmers I bought were the Raina Front Cut-Out Top and Raina Bikini Bottom, which are made from 80% recycled plastic, and 16% spandex. I love how this company gives a second life to plastic, but doesn’t just stop there. They have also partnered with NativeEnergy to support a new clean water project (which is one of their carbon-offset initiatives). Any item you purchase will be wrapped with a minimal piece of hemp twine and arrive to you in a reusable, 100% recycled poly mailer or Lenzing paper box. Rather than using biodegradable mailers over poly, they made the choice to stick with poly because a lot of biodegradable mailers made from bioplastic end up in the garbage, and don’t have the opportunity to biodegrade. Their larger packages ship in a plastic-free, naturally biodegradable paper box. On top of that, their modal fabrics are produced from beechwood pulp (that’s twice as soft as cotton) that are sustainably harvested. Beech trees propagate on their own, so no artificial irrigation or planting is required—making beechwood forests a completely natural and sustainable source of raw material. They also require less land per tonne and maintain a water consumption level that’s 10-20 times less than cotton.

What they look like on (such a beautiful design, aye?!)

I’ve had my swimmers for around 2 years now and they’ve lasted extremely well (considering I wear them EVERY TIME I go swimming – they’re my only pair of swimmers at the moment, but I’m looking to get a one piece from Wolven Threads soon!). To maintain them I rinse them under the shower after every swim in the sea (to prevent the salt water deteriorating the fabric), and wash them in a dechlorinating soak after swimming in pools to prevent the chlorine eating away at the fabric too).

Reusable Straws

This is definitely one of the easiest swaps I made, and is probable something we’ve all heard about by now (especially since the whole #savetheturtles movement 😉 ). You don’t even necessarily need to get a straw, you could simply ask for, “no straw,” instead with your drink order!

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My complete range of straws (from left to right; Sand Cloud, Green + Kind, a bamboo one I purchased online (I can’t remember where from, sorry!)

However, I myself do very much prefer a straw (especially when it comes to smoothies, as I tend to make them really thick, but to drink it I then have to tip it all the way up just so I can get gravity to do it’s thang, and help the smoothie slide it’s way down to the end of the cup – though there have been a few times in the past where I’ve had to bat it down, which hasn’t ended well (long story shot, it wound up all over my face 😅)). Any who, back to topic! There are a few different types of reusable straws out there:

  • bamboo straws
  • silicone topped stainless straws
  • full silicone straws
  • stainless steel straws
  • boba straws
  • glass straws

I have a couple of stainless steel ones from Green + Kind and Sand Cloud, and a bamboo straw I found online. Opting to use one of these straws instead of plastic is also beneficial to your health, as plastic leaches chemicals into food/drink, so choosing one of these reusable options can help stop this!

Note: just one thing to keep in mind is that bamboo and glass straws are more susceptible to being broken (my bamboo straw already has a crack in it as I accidentally squashed it in my bag), so they’ll just need a little more care when travelling.

Menstrual Cup

I’ve shared about my experience with using one of these in my post here, but to give a quick overview on them, I’ve found they’re one of the best reusable items to have on hand. It makes periods so much easier to manage, and they’re so easy to clean and use. I bought mine from OrganiCup, but you can find them almost anywhere now. They only had the moon cup in the colour white on this site, but you can find them in other places in a range of colours.

The moon cup I purchased from OrganiCup (only available in white)

Reusable Tea Bags

These are a new purchase of mine (I’ve had them for only a few months now), but I’ve just loved them! After learning that most tea bags can’t be compostable due to a lining of plastic inside them, I went out and bought myself a couple of reusable tea bags from Earth Wrapping. They work incredibly well, and are so easy to clean. I simply pop a couple of teaspoons of tea leaves in the bag, let it steep in hot water until ready, then empty the tea leaves in my compost bin! To clean the bag, simply wash under water and leave to dry (I keep it inside out to dry). The tea bag will stain over time, but other than that it keeps really well!

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Reusable tea bags from Earth Wrapping (she sent me a hand-written note with an extra tea bag in the order – so sweet!)

Reusable Water Bottles

Carrying a reusable water bottle is one of the easiest habits to get in, plus, by switching from a plastic bottle to a stainless steel one, you help stop any plastic chemicals leaching into your water! Some overall good brands to consider are: Klean Kanteen, Hydro Flask (both stainless steel), and LifeStraw (plastic).

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The stainless steel water bottle I purchased from Hydro Flask (it came in a reusable bag!)

I purchased a 32oz Wide Mouth bottle from Hydro Flask in the colour Jade. it’s insulation keeps whatever’s inside cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 12 hours, plus it’s BPA-Free and Phthalate-Free (both chemicals found in plastic). The second bottle I purchased is from LifeStraw and is indeed plastic. But there is a reason why I wanted this one. LifeStraw have a filter installed in the lid of the bottle which filters out bacteria, parasites and microplastics! I wanted a bottle I could bring with me when I go hiking that allows me to be able to drink from fresh streams out in the wilderness! It’s able to filter out:

  • 99.999999% of bacteria (including E. coli)
  • 99.999% of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.)
  • 99.999% of microplastics

Plus, for every product purchased, LifeStraw will provide one school child with safe drinking water for an entire school year.

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You can see the LifeStraw filtering system sitting inside the bottle (it’s attached to the straw so when you drink the water, it’s filtered as it enters your body)

I also purchased one more, but this one was a glass Bubble Tea cup from Biome. I’ve found that most stores will accept this reusable cup (I’ve only had one place reject it, and that was because it was glass), and I’ve found it’s just as good as their plastic single-use cups (but without the toxic chemicals!). I’ve used it for getting takeaway smoothies, iced coffees, and other cold drinks in too, so it’s very multi purposeful 😉

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I’ve used this glass jar for smoothies, iced coffees’, as well as bubble tea! I love it!

Reusable Containers

I discovered Elephant Box stainless steel lunchbox containers from Simpleish Living on Instagram. She shared how she uses these containers for picking up takeaway food in, and I thought that was a great idea. The container I purchased was the standard Elephant Box option, and since getting it I’ve used it to take meals I’ve prepped for work in, plus have bought home takeaway food in a few times too (most small businesses I’ve found do accept takeaway containers). I love how it’s stainless steel, as I do have a few glass containers at home, but I’m a little nervous taking them to work with me in case they break, and the other containers I have are made from plastic, which I try to avoid, again, due to the possibility of chemicals leaching into my food.

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It’s the perfect size for packing meals/snacks in for work, and for bring home takeaway!

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If you’re looking for more great natural low waste alternatives, see my Natural Home page!

I also shared a video on some of the products I mentioned, if you’d like to take a look…

I hope you all enjoyed this post and found it helpful! Let me know if you have any low waste products you recommend in the comments! I’d love to check them out!

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

Sources:

Kellogg, Kathryn. (October 23, 2017). The Ultimate List of Zero Waste Swaps. Going Zero Waste. Retrieved from https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/the-ultimate-list-of-zero-waste-swaps