Best Zero Waste Products To Have on Hand

Updated by Sydney Bollinger

We can’t ignore plastic pollution anymore, from the giant trash island in the Pacific Ocean to microplastics detected in human blood . Recognizing this means that it’s more important than ever to clean up our environment and prevent even more plastic from entering the waste stream.

Enter the zero waste lifestyle.

Living zero waste is exactly what it sounds like: not producing any trash that is sent to the landfill. And while eco-influencers like Lauren Singer ( Trash is for Tossers ) have made zero waste mainstream, many people still think it will be impossible for them to reduce waste in their own lives, let alone be zero waste!

Jayme Kreitinger, creator of greenUP , a plastic-free subscription box, is here to tell you that a zero waste life is possible—very possible. She began thinking seriously about the problem with plastic in 2016.

“The knowledge that plastic never biodegrades and has very limited recycling properties makes it particularly concerning. At that point, it became important to me to do what I could to reduce my plastic footprint,” Kreitinger explains.

Reducing your plastic footprint is difficult and requires noticing the plastic you come into contact with everyday. When starting her plastic-free journey, Kreitinger took stock of the plastic in her life and began to identify places where she could make a swap.

“At first, I tried to go all out but it was too much. I took a step back and tried to focus on building one new habit at a time [beginning with] sustainable swap.”

If you’re looking for a jumping off point to begin embracing the zero waste lifestyle, here are five ways to get started.


Reusable Water Bottle

One of the best ways to start the zero waste journey is to begin using a reusable water bottle or coffee mug. Simply find a bottle you have around your house—I’ve used old mason jars or coffee cups with metal straws—and get into the habit of taking it with you everywhere.

If you are a dedicated bottled water drinker because you like the taste or prefer filtered water, consider purchasing a water filter. Some will even attach to your faucet so you don’t have to worry about filling up a pitcher.

Plastic-Free Food Storage

Kreitinger lists silicone sandwich bags and non-plastic food storage containers as one of the best zero waste product swaps for beginners.

Next time you need to get plastic sandwich bags at the grocery, look online for reusable silicone options instead. While reusable sandwich bags may seem expensive, remember that they are an investment and you will be spending less in the long run.

For food storage containers, if you have a cabinet full of Tupperware, use it until you can’t. While it’s important to switch to plastic-free alternatives, you also want to make sure that you’re not trashing things that can still be used. As your containers wear out, replace them with glass or stainless steel options.

Produce Bags

Did you know you can get plastic-free produce bags? Stop using the free ones at the grocery store and begin bringing your own. When looking for these, always make sure to check the materials.

“One day, I spent three hours reading about produce bags to find the most sustainable option,” says Kreitinger. “One was made from polyester—that’s just plastic—and another had plastic closures.”

Once you have them in hand, it’s time to head to the supermarket!


Toothpaste Tablets

Toothpaste tablets are one of the best zero waste products to keep around your bathroom. It’s a simple swap to make, and they’re typically easy to find at your local health or natural foods store.

Let toothpaste tablets be one of your first toiletries you switch out and others, like waste-free floss , will follow close behind.

Takeout Silverware

We’ve all been to a place that serves food with plastic forks and knives—including at family gatherings. Something small and easy to keep on your person is travel silverware.

While you can buy a set with the “zero waste” label, any collection of silverware will do, whether it’s a lightweight camping set or just a fork, spoon, and knife out of your kitchen drawer.

Now you’ll never have to worry about throwing away plastic cutlery!


Just Get Started

When starting a ** zero waste **or plastic-free lifestyle, it’s important to just get started…any way you can!

“Don’t let perfect get in the way of the good,” encourages Kreitinger. “It's easy to get overwhelmed and give up. Take it one step at a time and feel good about every sustainable choice you can make. Know that it won't always be possible and give yourself some grace. It's also as much about building new habits as it is about finding the right sustainable swap.”

Subscribe to the greenUP box and begin your zero waste, plastic-free journey with ease!