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Zero Waste Living: 30 Swaps That Will Save You Money

Kayla McVey
Latest posts by Kayla McVey (see all)

Everyone remembers the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Let’s check out these 30 zero waste swaps you and your family can make to save you money AND be more sustainable. Some of these items may take time to acquire but will save money in the long run. Remember, we’re talking long-term but also do-able swaps. Life is busy and we made sure to take that into consideration.  We’re providing links below to products we recommend! 

Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps

reusable towels
  1. Reusable Towels – These are easy replacements to using a whole roll of paper towels every other day. If you have toddlers, you know exactly what I’m saying. If these aren’t in your budget, I keep a lot of kitchen towels on hand and use them in place of paper towels. I love the waffle knit ones from Better Homes and Gardens – they’re available at Wal-Mart. Super absorbent and around ten dollars for three or four sizeable towels. 
swedish dishcloths zero waste

2.Swedish DishCloths – Swedish Dishcloths are wonderful zero waste swap and super cute! However, a trusty cotton cloth will do. I use cotton rags to dust with, wash dishes with, and scrub anything I can avoid absolutely needing a paper towel for. Sometimes things are too dirty for a cotton rag and you have to be reasonable with yourself. These are usable for up to 50 washes and are 100% biodegradable – a wonderful paper towel replacement.  They’re also very absorbent and an alternative option to the previously listed towels.

  1. Create your own floor cleaner! Sarah dropped a recipe on her story the other day! Orange peels, cinnamon, and water – your house will smell just like Christmas feels.

Floor Cleaner 

Ingredients:

1.5 cups of Sugar

A sprinkle of cinnamon

Orange Peels – fit as many as possible in a quart jar

Hot Water – peels completely covered

Add 1.5 cups of sugar and a little cinnamon to a quart jar and as many orange peels as possible. Cover completely with hot water and shake to melt sugar. 

Store for at minimum one month before using – mixture turns into alcohol before it turns into vinegar. 

bamboo brush zero waste
  1. Dish Soap Block with Bamboo Brush – I haven’t personally used either of these items yet but they both have great reviews! This is a super easy way to cut down on plastic consumption and using a bamboo brush also takes microplastics out of the equation. 

Brush and Soap Holder  Soap Block

beeswax wraps zero waste
  1. Beeswax Wraps – Need to wrap your produce or cover a bowl and you can’t find the lid to your tupperware? Same. These Beeswax Wraps solve that problem for you immediately AND they’re reusable. Did I mention how precious they are? They come in an assortment of patterns and sizes. 
dishwasher detergent pods
  1. Plastic Free Dishwasher Pods – Non-Tox, Unscented, and they work wonderfully. MollySuds, we love you. They also come in citrus! 
mesh produce bags zero waste
  1. Mesh Produce Bags – can be used for snacks, gifts, fruits, vegetables, etc. and they’re made of cotton!
glass storage bowls
  1. Glass Storage Bowls – Ditch the plastic storage bowls. I’ve been scouring the internet for nice glass bowls that don’t have plastic or silicone lids. I finally found the perfect ones! They even have wood lids!
utensils zero waste
  1. Utensils – Personally, I bring silverware from home with me. But, if you need a designated set then this would be wonderful! I love using stainless steel straws and it even comes with a straw brush. 
  1. Bulk Shopping – Bulk Shopping is the easiest way that you’re going to save money. It may not be totally zero waste but it drastically cuts down on the amount of waste that families accumulate yearly. There are zero waste stores around the country; but when bulk shopping for groceries, I like going to Sam’s Club. I haven’t had the pleasure of stepping into a Costco yet but I see wonderful things about them online! Another way is to buy meat from a local farmer/rancher. Discuss how much meat you eat yearly based upon your family size with the farmer and possibly find someone to split the cow with!
  1. Canning – Canning is another wonderful way to be zero waste. There are two types of canning – Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning. Jars can always be reused and lids can be reused as long as they’re not damaged. What you’re canning typically determines what kind of canner you’ll use. More acidic foods require water bath canning, whereas less acidic foods require pressure canning. 
  1. Natural Sponges – Grow luffa gourds! There are two different species of the plant, the Chinese Gourd and the Egyptian Luffa. These can be used as body sponges and sponges around the house. You can easily grow them in your own yard!
  1. Stainless Water Bottles – Stainless Steel Water Bottles are the new trend. You likely don’t need as many as you have. You can also always just use a mason jar! I always have a couple around the house and use them regularly for drinks. 
castile soap
  1. Refillable Castile Soap – Dr. Bronner’s sells a castile concentrate that lasts ages. It can be used for a multitude of messes and isn’t overly expensive! 
  1. Keep a laundry basket in your car to bring in groceries or use bags you already have to pack them in.
  2. Reusable Coffee Filters – you can find one of these at your grocery store. They’re available on amazon in stainless steel! Just make sure to find the right style for your coffee maker. 

Non-Toxic Household and Self Care Swaps

  1. Shampoo and Body Soap Bars – There is no one-size-fits-all option for shampoo bars because everyone has different needs for their hair. However, this is a great swap for zero waste. It doesn’t work for everyone but it cuts down on a ton of plastic waste. 
  1. Beef Tallow Moisturizer – Community over Competition, right? A friend of mine made this Tallow Body Butter from The Prairie Homestead and has been raving about it. This is a wonderful way to reduce waste and you can source this from local farms, if you don’t have cows yourself! 
makeup remover pads zero waste
  1. Cloth Makeup Remover Pads – easy to make at home if you can sew but also super easy to find on Amazon! Some of us are way too busy to be making every single thing we use. Bamboo cotton and they come with a cute little laundry/storage bag! 
  2. Dryer Balls – You probably already have these. I bought some years ago when I was probably a little too into essential oils. They’re a great replacement for dryer sheets, knock down static, and you can drop your favorite essential oils on them to give your clothes a refreshing scent. Super easy to find at your local grocery store or supermarket! 
toothpaste tablets
  1. Toothpaste Tabs – Toothpaste Tabs are a wonderful zero waste swap for your typical toothpaste – you get more for your money and greatly reduce plastic waste. I’ve personally never used these but they do have nano-hydroxyapatite in them. It’s a great alternative to fluoride and they come in a recyclable container! They’re even manufactured in the United States.
  1. Repurposing Clothes – Repairing or repurposing clothing is another way to be zero waste. We understand there comes a time where clothes simply aren’t salvageable. In saying that, chop them up and use them as dust rags! Treat yourself to something nice. Linen clothes are expensive but they can be found second hand. Another non-toxic fiber is 100% cotton. Oeko-Tex is a guarantee that your clothes have been tested against 350 toxic materials. Thrifting is getting harder these days due to resellers but with a diligent eye, you can find wonderful pieces that have a lot of life left in them. 
lint remover
  1.  Lint Removers! – Not one I’d use on my clothing but this is perfect for everything else. It knocks out the use of plastic, adhesive, and whatever kind of waxy paper that is. Plus, it’s a one-time ten dollar purchase… unless you have kids and you don’t find it until you clean out their toy box and have already bought another. 
pixie cup menstrual cup starter kit zero waste
  1. Menstrual Cups and Reusable Pads – Menstrual cups and washable pads are another way to greatly cut out waste. They cut out the chemicals, plastics, and who knows what else we’re putting in and against our bodies monthly. 

Reusable Pads  Period Cup Starter Kit 

black water flosser
  1. Water Flosser – Please still use floss but use Bamboo Floss instead! I’ll have that linked next. Getting a water flosser has really changed my dental care. I love this thing. You only need to replace the head occasionally. They’re rechargeable too! I got mine on sale at Walmart but this one isn’t a terrible price. 
zero waste charcoal bamboo dental floss
  1. Bamboo Floss – Bamboo Floss is a low waste, biodegradable swap to your typical toxic, plastic based flosses. This floss comes in a reusable, glass container and even has a subscription! 
zero waste black compost bin
  1. Composting Bin – If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time cooking. Cooking just so happens to create A LOT of waste. That waste is super duper valuable, despite what you may think! Save your scraps and put them in a bucket or there’s also this bin on Amazon that tumbles your compost for you. It’s easy to use and the reviews on it are excellent. This is a wonderfully free way to fertilize your garden.  
  1. Use what you have – I know this is probably the most obvious thing on the list. But, using sticks and leaves around your property to fill up your raised beds before adding in soil for your garden, glass jars for drinking or storing leftovers, or milk jugs to start seeds. Most everything you use can be repurposed in some manner! 
stainless steel plates
  1. Stainless Steel Plates – Stainless Steel Plates are a long lasting alternative to things like paper plates. They’re wonderful for kids, camping, and just having around the house when you don’t feel like using your good plates. Silicone plates can hold onto residues from soaps and make food taste super gross, which makes kids often not want to eat what they’re served. Stainless steel is non-toxic, zero waste, and dishwasher safe!  
  1. Cloth Diapers – Last but most certainly not least, cloth diapers are the best zero waste swap I can think of. Sarah is extremely knowledgeable on cloth diapering and has a ton of great information on her socials. She used Buttons Cloth Diapers and had a fantastic time with them! Here’s a link to a TikTok she made about the ins and outs of cloth diapering.

 Let us know what swaps you make in our facebook group or on Instagram, @thehomesteaderschronicle! We have a wide variety of articles available to you, along with a public Facebook group that we would love for you to join! We regularly post recipes, how-to guides, parenting advice, and more. There are also many more articles on The Homesteader’s Chronicle that are detailed guides on gardening, parenting, homesteading, and a vast array of other topics.

Our plans for The Homesteader’s Chronicle Facebook page is to be a valuable resource that can be easily shared and accessed. That’s where you come in! Posting questions or sharing your own homesteading journey gives the group the opportunity to grow and attract more members. We love it when our followers join in on the conversation, and it makes our days so much brighter when we see you guys get excited about things we share. Thank you for supporting us this far, and we are so excited to see what 2024 has in store for us! 

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