Your first zero waste swaps and purchases can seem intimidating, especially when you search on Pinterest and find lists like “101 Zero Waste Swaps.”
Doing 101 things at any given time is NOT advised. So, I thought I would share what my first swaps were.
- Reusable Water Bottle - I actually started using reusable water bottles in high school because on most college visits everyone seems to give them away for free as advertisement and incentives. Although at first it’s hard to remember to bring one places, if you set a daily reminder on your phone it should become habit soon enough. I’ve definitely cycled through a couple of brands too, so here’s what I’ve used:
- CamelBak - With a lifetime guarantee, what’s not to love? If it weren’t for my recent discovery of insulated water bottles, I would still be packing my CamelBak every day. I love the straw and bite valve to prevent leaks and easy drinking on the go (i.e. driving). Just make sure you disassemble the whole lid every week to prevent mold build-up.
- Simple Modern - I bought this one after a coworker had one at camp, and I lost mine. A vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle with many different lid options AND this one can fit in a car’s cup holder. Definitely a winner!
- Que Bottle - My mom just got me this for my birthday at my request. It showed up on my Instagram feed, and I love that it’s collapsible (read: TWO bottles in ONE). Made of silicone and stainless steel, it’s sure to win you over if you’re looking for a no-plastic bottle! Any reusable bottle you already have! Going zero waste doesn’t mean you need to buy something. If you do use a plastic bottle though, make sure it is BPA free in case you leave it somewhere warm!
- Reusable Bag - You can find these just about anywhere nowadays! More U.S. states and many countries now have a bag tax for every plastic, so it’s helpful to bring your own reusable bags whenever you go shopping (not just grocery shopping either!). I always keep a bag like the one linked above in my backpack, because it easily can fold up and fit in your pocket!
- Menstrual Cup - LIFE CHANGER. Once I actually figured out the proper way to insert it and ensure its seal, it rocked my world. I still use a pantiliner on my heavy days (I hope to switch to period panties like Thinx soon), but it has saved me so much money and prevented so much waste! Although there are many cup options, this is by far my favorite since it’s collapsible and easy to travel with!
- Handkerchiefs - I actually made my own handkerchiefs with some soft cotton fabric from Joann’s and my sewing machine (make sure you have a hemming foot!). It was such an easy and fun project that has helped my allergies immensely. Once you use it, just throw it in with the wash! If you don’t want to make your own, I highly recommend this seller on Etsy.
- Bar Soap - I don’t have enough good things to say about bar soap. I’m pretty sure it’s making a come back, or I’m just more aware of it now! I LOVE the variety of scents, too. My favorite places to buy new soap are markets and craft shows, because you’re supporting local entrepreneurs. My most recent soap was purchased from Cellar Door, and I am so happy!
Of course, there are so many different brands you can purchase from (or DIY). However, I want you to know that the best thing you can do is first shop your home.
If you’re new to the zero waste journey, let me know what your first swaps below! I’d love to hear your positive changes and encourage you!