I’ve been making some changes, moving towards a more zero-waste lifestyle. Recently I placed an order at Biome and a few other shops, and got some really awesome products I wanted to share with you! Zero-waste sunnies, shampoo, cups, straws, sustainable swimwear, body hair removal, period care – I got you covered! And even more!
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 it’s better to use what you have first before going out and buying something new.
Any who, enough about me. Let’s get started on the list of low-waste reusables I’ve tried-and-tested and my review of them.
As always, before purchasing any of these items, check out the second-hand market, unless of course it’s a toothbrush.
This razor from Leaf Shave is an all-metal razor; available in black, silver, mercury, chrome, gold and rose gold. It has a maneuverable head that allows you to open and change the individual blades, making it easier to clean and remove any clogged hair.
I used to use disposable razors – which I’d throw away every month or so as they became too blunt to use – but I’ve found this razor to be 100 times better! Once the razor blades become too blunt to use, I simply remove them from the razor and store them in the metal disposal tin. Once the tin is full, I take it to a local metal scrap recycling facility to be recycled. Alternatively, you can post it back to the company where they recycle it for you! So there’s no waste.
In the starter pack you receive:
- The Leaf razor
- A solid metal stand
- 50 blades // 100 edges
- Blade disposer tin
If you need a top up on any of the items, simply visit their website to restock.
Update: Since using this razor I’ve had to replace it twice as the maneuverable head became too flimsy to effectively shave the hair on my skin. I emailed the company and they kindly sent out another razor for me, but after only a few months of use, the same thing happened and it became too flimsy to use. Since, I’ve switched to this more sturdy metal razor and haven’t had any troubles (other than sometimes cutting my skin on the razor, but I’ve learnt to shave a little slower to prevent this).
Parafina is a company I discovered at the Newcastle Vegan Markets. They create polarised sunglasses made from 100% recycled materials; like rubber, tyres, cork stoppers, PET plastic, HDPE plastic, bamboo and aluminium soda cans. They have a huge variety of styles, and even come in hybrid options (i.e. bamboo and plastic). 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.
When you purchase a pair of these glasses, you receive not only the glasses but a case to store 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 the soil and a tree will grow from it! The plastic the glasses arrive in can be sent back to the company (if you do not choose to keep it) and they will continue to use it for other sunglasses.
Update: These sunglasses broke after just one year of use, so I emailed the company and they kindly repaired them and sent them back to me for free. I have since switched to another pair of sunglasses which I prefer in design and sturdiness. They’re made by Gold Coast Longboards out of recycled skateboard wood. I picked these sunnies up after visiting one of the markets along the coast selling them. They’ve lasted me about 2 years now, and are still going strong.
It’s said that around 500 billion disposable cups are produced every year, and most can’t be recycled because of the plastic lining (see here for how to recycle single-use plastic coffee cups). 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 comes in handy.
You don’t even 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 a better option (so as not to burn your hands).
I purchased mine from KeepCup, where I customised the design to how I wanted it to look! I always leave it in my bag so I’ll remember to take it out with me.
You don’t even have to use them solely for coffee either; I take snacks in them, use it as a cup when I go out for ice-cream (I also use their wooden taste-testing sticks instead of the plastic ones to eat the ice-cream), and more.
One of my favourite swimwear and activewear companies is Wolven Threads.
It was recorded that 11.2 billion pounds of plastic make their way into our oceans each year, so to help counteract this, Wolven recycles the PET plastic by breaking it down into fine yarns that can be woven into textiles and clothing.
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. They’ve partnered with NativeEnergy to support a new clean water project (which is one of their carbon-offset initiatives).
Any item purchased is wrapped with a minimal piece of hemp twine and is posted out in a reusable, 100% recycled poly mailer or Lenzing paper box. Rather than using biodegradable mailers, they chose 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.
Their modal fabrics are produced from beechwood pulp – that’s twice as soft as cotton – which is 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.
I’ve had my swimmers for around 4 years now, and they’ve lasted extremely well. To maintain them, I rinse them under the shower after every swim in the sea – to prevent the salt water corroding the fabric – and wash them in a dechlorinating soak after swimming in chlorine pools.
This is definitely one of the easiest swaps I made, and is probably something we’ve all heard about by now, especially since the whole #savetheturtles movement.
You don’t even need to get a straw, you could simply ask for “no straw” with your drink order.
I personally prefer a straw, particularly when it comes to smoothies or thick shakes. 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 a plastic one benefits not only the planet, but your health too, as plastic leaches chemicals into food and beverages.
I’ve shared my experience with using a menstrual cup before, 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.
Reusable Tea Bags
These have been one of my most used items, I just love them!
After learning that most tea bags aren’t compostable due to the plastic lining 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, I wash it out with water and leave it to dry (I dry it inside-out). The tea bag will stain over time, but other than that it keeps really well.
Reusable Water Bottles
Carrying a reusable water bottle is one of the easiest habits to get into. Plus, switching from a plastic bottle to a stainless steel one means you help stop any plastic chemicals leaching into your water! Some good brands to consider are: Klean Kanteen, Hydro Flask, and LifeStraw (though this one is plastic).
I purchased a 32oz Wide Mouth bottle from Hydro Flask in the colour Jade. It’s insulated, so whatever’s inside it kept cold for up to 24 hours, and hot for up to 12 hours. It’s BPA-free and Phthalate-free (both chemicals found in plastic).
The second bottle I purchased was from LifeStraw. It is made from plastic, but there’s a specific reason why I wanted this one in particular. 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 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.
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 (without the toxic chemicals!). I’ve used it for takeaway smoothies, iced coffees, nice-cream, bubble tea and other cold drinks. It’s very multi-purposeful.
I discovered Elephant Box stainless steel lunchbox containers from Simple-ish Living on Instagram. She shared how she uses these containers for collecting takeaway food, meal prepping, etc. and I thought it 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, snacks for hiking, collecting baked goods in from the bakery, takeaway food, and more! 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.
Organic Plastic-Free Hair Ties
I bought these organic hair ties from Biome, a completely plastic-free store. They’re all-natural, plastic-free, biodegradable hair ties that don’t contribute to landfill, as they’re completely zero-waste. These ties are strong enough to hold thick hair, yet soft enough to not pull or make creases in your locks. They come in a variety of colours, and are made by the company, Kooshoo, who work with small family businesses, supporting local jobs in Los Angeles. All their products are hand-dyed in a solar-powered dye house.
These hair ties:
- Are made with organic cotton, so no chemicals or pesticides are released into the environment
- Don’t pull hair too tight and cause headaches
- Have a strong enough hold to not slip from hair
- Fit comfortably on your wrist as a bracelet when not in use
These organic hemp scrunchies were also from Biome. They come in a set of three upcycled and repurposed scrunchies and are elasticated, made from offcuts from their hemp clothing collection. They come in a variety of colours, and are made by the company, Afends.
Hemp uses 80% less water and emits 37% less carbon emissions compared to conventional cotton. When the scrunchie has reached the end of it’s life, it’s recommended to consult your local council to find your nearest textile recycling facility.
These hair scrunchies are:
- Designed in Byron Bay, Australia.
- OCS-certified organic cotton
- Helping to save waste from landfill.
Another of my finds from Biome, this card is an eco-friendly greeting card printed on 100% post consumer recycled card using vegetable inks. It has a blank inside, and is made in Australia by Earth Greetings, a small business that is leading the way for sustainable paper production. Recycled paper uses fewer trees, less water, energy, space in landfill and produces less pollutants.
- Are printed carbon neutral
- Come with a 100% recycled paper envelope.
Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray
After searching high and low in many different op shops, I finally found a stainless steel ice cube tray at Biome. I wanted a stainless steel tray, as plastic can leach into whatever’s inside, and a steel ice tray will last the test of time compared with plastic or silicon trays, so I saw it as a worthwhile investment. It’s made by the Canadian company, Onyx, from heavy duty 18/8 stainless steel that’s fast freeze, easy to clean and lasts a lifetime.
This ice tray:
- Has an unbreakable design
- Is easy to use; operate the lever to quickly and easily release the ice cubes
- Is lead-free.
Reusable FSC-Certified Rubber Gloves
These reusable rubber gloves were from Biome. If You Care rubber gloves are made from FSC-certified ethically sourced latex. They’re perfect for dishwashing, cleaning and gardening, and are lined with 100% natural cotton.
FSC-certified rubber is harvested from responsibly managed plantations. The rubber tappers who cut the bark to extract the rubber have been paid a fair wage for their work.
These rubber gloves are:
- Are packaged in FSC-certified chlorine-free recyclable cardboard with non-toxic inks and glues.
- Are not suitable for those allergic to rubber latex.
Now, because these gloves are made with more natural materials, they do not last as long as plastic synthetic gloves. I find they last me about two months when washing up every evening before they start to wear and develop holes in them.
Reusable Tea Infuser
This stainless steel tea infuser was from Biome. It’s durable, long-lasting and easy to clean.
Love Tea donates 1% of annual net revenue to a range of environmental organisations worldwide. Their tea infusers are packaged in post-consumer recycled board printed with vegetable based inks.
This tea infuser is:
- Suitable for all loose leaf teas
- Easy to open, as it’s a spring-loaded strainer
Update: Since using this tea strainer for many different types of tea, I have found that any loose leaf tea leaves will seep out of the strainer through the holes. It appears to be a manufacturing defect and I’ve read the reviews of others who have used this product and they’ve reported the same thing. Therefore, I would recommend only using this strainer for steeping large roots or bigger leaves, nothing too small otherwise it will end up floating in your tea. I would suggest searching for another tea strainer from a different company and double checking the reviews to see how the product performs.
The ONLY true plastic-free toothbrush out there: Brush with Bamboo.
This toothbrush has become my top pick because it’s the only toothbrush (that I’ve found) made from 100% plants!!! Most toothbrushes contain nylon (plastic) bristles, but Brush with Bamboo have made a toothbrush with 100% castor bean oil bristles! Still a bio plastic, so it won’t compost in your backyard quick like the bamboo handle, but it doesn’t rely on oil extraction and won’t take hundreds of years to break down like plastics do. So I’m a huge fan.
Most band-aids are made of plastic. The adhesive sheet on a band-aid is often made from either PVC, polyethylene, or polyurethane. Polyurethane, like all plastics, is petroleum-based. So while polyethylene is considered a “safe plastic,” during its manufacture industrial chemicals such as butane, benzene, and vinyl acetate are used making the process very toxic. PVC contains dangerous chemicals like phthalates, lead, cadmium, dioxin and more, making it extremely toxic.
While we do our best to throw used band-aids away in the rubbish, sometimes they fall off (say while we’re swimming) and end up in the environment, leaching toxic chemicals into the air, water and food chain.
I’ve been looking for plastic-free, non-toxic, sustainably made, eco-friendly band-aids for some time now, and Patch is the best I’ve found so far.
A little about Patch Band-Aids…
Their band-aids are made from 100% certified organic bamboo fibre which provides skin-soothing and astringent properties, helping with wound healing.
The gauze is enriched with activated charcoal to help draw out impurities and prevent infections in minor wounds, and these plasters use nano technology (imagine tiny suction cups holding the band-aid to the skin) that allows these strips to gently stick to the skin without causing adverse reactions.
They’re free from silicone, latex, thimerosal and parabens, are biodegradable and compostable. These bandages can be thrown in the compost when finished and should break down naturally within 10 weeks (I’ll be testing that out). They can be used on sensitive skin types, are sterile, and come in a pack of 25.
I will keep you posted on how well they actually compost (they may need to be composted at a commercial composting facility – it didn’t specify), so I’ll let you know after trying them out in my home compost.
Update: Since trialling them in my compost I have found they don’t biodegrade all that well. I suggest composting them at a commercial composting facility which can achieve a higher temperature in their compost piles, helping these ‘compostable’ products degrade much more effectively and quickly.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you tried any of these reusables before? What did you think? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,