There are many items I have that have allowed me to cut down on quite a bit of waste since I’ve begun my low waste journey and these are the main ones. Some of these might be pretty obvious to some and if you follow a lot of content about sustainability then this is probably the 97th time you’re hearing about them, but hopefully this short list can give everyone at least one new idea!
I didn’t have a funnel when I moved to San Antonio and found that pouring things from bulk bags into glass jars got pretty messy without one. I think I brought this up in a video and someone mentioned I should make my own funnel, so that’s what I did. I cut off the back of a cereal box, stabbed 4 holes in it with scissors, and tied a piece of twine through those holes.
BAG OF BAGS
I keep a bag of bags + the paper that comes around my Who Gives A Crap toilet paper under my sink so that when I get things that come in a plastic bags I can reuse them in the future. I can use the toilet paper “wrappers” for wrapping people, as has been suggested by a few people. And I can use the shipping plastic bags that I got items sent to me in to ship items to other people instead of having to buy a new bag or box to ship something in.
I have pretty oily hair and no matter what kind of shampoo I’ve used in the past many years, my hair will look very oily if I take a day off of showering. Some shampoos can even make my hair get greasy less than 24 hours after I last showered so I was hesitant to try out a shampoo bar but I have used one from the SunLeaf brand and it has worked better than expected. As far as keeping my hair from getting oily fast, it doesn’t work as good as another shampoo I’ve use for a while (Alba Botanica), but it’s not that much worse.
I think just showering every other day instead of everyday might help (due to my hair being much less oily when I was traveling in my van and not showering as frequently).
The bar I have can be used for soap and shampoo so thats a nice minimalist hack. I have only tried this one kind though and will definitely try others in the future to see if I can find one that works really well.
I have used this Parker 99r safety razor with Shark blades for a couple years now and will definitely never go back to regular razors. These do take longer since there is only one blade (per side) versus 4-6 for traditional razors, but for me it’s worth it because they’re much less wasteful, save money, and I don’t shave all that often so time isn’t a big deal.
These razors can last a lifetime, the blades can “last months” from what i’ve heard but I don’t know how often you must shave for them to get dull in that amount of time.. I only shave every couple weeks-months so mine have lasted much longer.
So inserted of throwing away a whole razor or razor head when it’s worn out, you just have to dispose of the blade in a sharps container (which can usually be found in hospitals and sometimes bathrooms- in the US at least).
GROCERY + PRODUCE + BULK BAGS
These are, of course, a must have for anyone looking to reduce their plastic waste. And they can all be relatively inexpensive too. I’ve seen some good sturdy grocery bags for around $3, bulk bags for $1 each, and I once got a pack of 3 produce bags for under $8.
If you’d like to see the kinds I use, you can find them over on my Things I Use page.
If buying a bunch of produce/bulk bags isn’t an option for you financially, you can always get a good amount of plastic produce ones from the store and just reuse them as long as possible.
Bamboo toothbrushes aren’t perfect because the bristles are often made of nylon and while the handle is biodegradable, it can usually only break down if it’s industrially composted, which most people don’t have access to.
It is still a better option though because and bamboo is a more sustainable resource than plastic every kind of bamboo toothbrush I’ve ever seen comes in a cardboard box!
STASHER BAG + REUSED ZIPLOC BAGS
I always keep a few plastic ziploc bags on hand because they are really quite useful to have and very inexpensive, especially when compared to a more eco option like silicone stasher bags. I do have one that’s snack sized but it was about $10 so not something I’ll likely be purchasing a whole lot of. But I make sure to always wash out and reuse plastic bags and I’ve found that they can actually last a surprisingly long time.
I use to work part time as a cashier and had a lunch break once a week where I’d always bring a sandwich (ok it was actually just a ciabatta bun with hummus but thats aside from the point) in a ziploc bag and I probably used 2-3 bags in the entire 2 years I worked there.
CLOTH PADS + MENSTRUAL CUP
Reusable menstrual products take a little getting use to but I really like my menstrual cup and my cloth pads and will definitely use them for the rest of my life.
Cloth pads come in so many different sizes, are far more comfortable, don’t make any noise, and are less expensive over time than regular disposable pads. An alternative is period underwear which I’ve never tried but a lot of people like.
If you don’t mind sticking things up your vagina, menstrual cups are great and becoming a lot more popular these days. They are a lot better for your vagina too because tampons absorb blood which can dry your vagina out but cups just collect it.
All of these are probably some of the best ways to save a lot of money by being more sustainable.
I was really excited that moving to San Antonio would mean I’d be able to compost pretty easily. I do it through a local company called Compost Queens and it’s only $10/month. All I have to do is put my fruit + veggie scraps in a bucket with its biodegradable liner that they gave me and every few inches of food I sprinkle on some bokashi bran (which they also provide) and once it’s full I take it to their location, drop it off, and pick up a new set of those 3 items.
I started using these linen napkins a couple months ago and so far have been able to cut down on a lot of paper towel use because of them. I keep one in my purse, which has actually come in handy a lot, and have 3 in my kitchen and I get a lot of use out of those as well.
SILVERWARE IN PURSE
It’s completely unnecessary to go out and buy new silverware, like these To Go Ware utensils… unless you do a lot of flying and need non-metal silverware. But having a fork, knife, and spoon in your purse for whenever you may need them can save you from having to use the plastic version a lot if you frequently get fast food.