10 Zero Waste Essentials Under $20

If you’ve followed us for just about any length of time you know that what started with food has slowly expanded to full body health, pursuing a non toxic lifestyle throughout our home, and in the midst of it all, going on a quest to cut down on the waste we create. You can read more about why I care and some of the other small changes we’ve made in a post HERE that I wrote a few months back.  But I’ve had a lot of questions recently about some of the everyday items we use to reduce our trash, so I thought I’d tell you the low cost every day essentials, and why we chose the ones we did. And #10 is a cheat and not a product, which makes it free – but it’s a KEY one! (And all the products are available easily on Amazon just click the picture, or the title.)
And as always, remember it’s a JOURNEY!
 My goal is to inspire, and not to make you feel guilty. The changes that last are the ones we make out of excitement and inspiration, not guilt and scary statistics which is why you won’t find anything in here about the number of animals that die from out choices, or the way we’re screwing up the planet blah blah. Just personally I don’t do well feeling guilty so I want to get excited about the changes I CAN make, not the ones I can’t sustainably do right now. So I celebrate any change you can make even if it feels tiny!

1. Keep Cup

Coffee is a great place to start this list, and I think I’ve tried every to go cup on the market to find the one I actually enjoy drinking out of and this is hands down the winner. The ‘drinking experience’ has to be right as well as saving a single use cup, anyone with me?! And this has both. Mostly I drink without the lid, but if I need it on, the lid is perfect too.  They have models with bamboo surrounds too but while they’re pretty, they don’t go in the dishwasher and disintegrate over time so for ease and long life, go with the silicon! We have the 12oz size but they’re available in multiple sizes to pop in your bag whenever you’re out and about or taking coffee on the go.

2. Stasher Bag

This was a purchase for Jared.  In his perfect world (ok and mine) ziplock bags and paper towels would make extinct animals come back to life… but sadly they don’t, and so we don’t use them! Until then, we don’t buy paper towels (these washable ones are a great alternative if you want one), and we bought him a Stasher bag for snacks.  It’s basically an everlasting ziplock. He loves it.

3. Glass Water bottle

I’ve literally dropped this on concrete and it lived.  As a self admitttedly clumsy mum, that instantly makes it a winner in my book! Waste is only half the reason we use glass water bottles. On the waste side one common question is: ‘But isn’t plastic recyclable?’ Technically, yes, you can put plastic in your recycling bin but personally we try to avoid it completely. Even if it technically never goes in the ‘waste’ bin, it does live forever and it’s building up on earth like crazy because it can never be broken down. I prefer to inspire than scare so you can do the googling for yourself on what it’s doing in our water and oceans. The other half of my reason though, is that plastic leaches chemicals into the water, again, do the research and find your own information but even ‘BPA free plastic’ is something we choose to avoid for our water.  This is my fave bottle because I don’t like the fact that you can’t see inside stainless steel to see if it’s clean!!

4. Eco Lunch Boxes

I realized these are over $20, but they’re also the best value ones on the market and we use them every day so I’m including them. (But HERE is a small one that’s less than $20) We use these to take lunches to work, when we travel they come on the airplane (read about what we take HERE) and use them as to-go containers for leftovers when we eat out.  I get asked a lot if they keep food hot. No, they just seal it in and we reheat at work/home or when we travel we take food we’re happy to eat cold. Try Kleen Kanteen or Keep Cup for ways to keep food hot. But honesty we prefer these and they’re (very) cost effective. Top tip: Keep a fork/spoon in your bag and car so you can always say no to plastic!

5. Metal straw

If you’re like me, you drink something out of a straw most days. If overtime you grab a new plastic straw, it’s so much to toss ‘away’. These travel everywhere with me in my purse and live in out drawers at home. Then they go through the dishwasher (after using the straw cleaner) and live literally, forever. Which means they recoup their cost in the time it takes you to go through one box of plastic straws, winner.  If you’re wanting them for coffee (you know, to save your lipstick) try the heat resistant Koffee Straw 

5. Wooden toothbrush

Do you get a new toothbrush every time you go to the dentist? What happens to your old one? Every one of us is throwing away old toothbrushes every few months but you don’t have to! These ones are 100% biodegradable and I can toss them in my compost heap after they’ve had a first life for cleaning teeth and a second life for cleaning my home! Some of the wooden versions are too harsh on my gums but these are soft and perfect. And if you really want to zero waste and detox your toothbrushing all at once, consider a tooth powder either home made, or bought in a glass jar.

7. Cast iron skillet

Well, it’s just one of my life essentials no matter the list, I’d take one to a dessert island! I put this on the list for a few reasons – they’re literally indestructible and you can hand them off to your children and grandchildren! And because where other saucepans usually include elements of plastic and can break/melt- these don’t. Then they’re SO multifunctional that I used just one 10″ one for months for everything when I first threw out everything non stick! And lastly, because if worst comes to worst and you rust or don’t take care of them you can scrape them down and start all over again. And these Lodge ones are priced so well, they also make a killer gift!

8. Sewing kit

You know, like your granny had? Or maybe you have a small hotel one stashed away somewhere? We’re so used to throwing things out when they get a little hole, I mean, clothes are cheap enough to wear till the break… or even less. But we’re trying to make the move away from Fast Fashion and buying lots new every season and move towards more quality purchases that we keep for years. Did you know that 6% of New York household waste is clothing?! I know, insane. And that’s after charity shop donations are made!  Once we spend more money on an item (or even when we don’t) we then have to do better at actually mending and not just tossing.  And it helps the wallet too, a full sewing kit like this is $10, which far beat the cost of a new item!

9. Fair trade Organic Cotton Tote Bags

A lot of places are slowly making plastic bags either come with a change, or making them illegal.  I love that! But wither way we always take a tote (or 5) when we shop or travel. They’re usually not an item you have to buy, most people have got a free one from somewhere lying around – it’s just remembering to take them! I either keep them in my car (and put them back right in after shopping) or leave a note on my dashboard or at the top of my grocery shopping list.

All if you’re a bulk shopper (which is a great way to go zero waste, then get yourself some of these organic cotton produce bags to use for bulk dry good and produce. There are 7 in the $15 and it’s all I need with a couple of glass jars for my weekly shop. And the tare (empty weight) is written on the label for extra easy use!)

And maybe this should have come first but the number ONE and FREE way to save waste is learning the art of saying ‘no’ to things, and the confidence to feel a little awkward.

e.g. we all (mostly) have this feeling that we need to say yes to something if it’s free. You know what? We don’t. Yes Clayton gets a free drink at Chipotle. But it’s juice that comes in plastic so I turn it down. If I forget my shopping bags I reload everything into the cart and take it out to the car sans bags. I’ve been told I’m silly and I should take bags in our local store. I was even told ‘taking a bag provides jobs, you shouldn’t turn it down.’ But I do. We all get sent a ton in the mail, but put a ‘no circulars’ note on your letter box/mail box to stop those things coming to you. We’re in a lot of meetings where there are free plastic water bottles, sometimes I’m even thirsty andI still say no to them.  I’d rather be thirsty for a bit than create plastic waste for the conveneice of water exactly when I want it.  Cos it’s my convenience now, but it’s the world’s inconvenience forever. It takes a mindset shift to make some of these decisions, especially depending on where you live. If you’re in San Francisco, you’ll be celebrated for bringing your own to go container.  If you show up at Jared’s labourite local takeout and ask them to use our container instead of their polustyremen one – they basically don’t even unsdetsnad why that would happen.  But I get over the awkwardness and explain, and do it confidently.

There are tons more items we’re slowly adding to our lives to lower the waste we create but these are my starting out essentials.  Is there something you find essential that I didn’t add? Tell me in the comments below!

2 Comment

  1. Gianna says:

    Have you tried the BKR glass water bottles? Over $20, but I bought them when they were having their big sale over summer. They’re covered in silicone, but you can still see inside to check if it’s clean or not. 🙂 I love them! I drink more water now and have kicked my plastic water bottle habit. 👊🏼

  2. Dawn says:

    I didn’t know you could leave a, “no circulars” note!!! Great news! Thank you.

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