13+ Easy Zero Waste Swaps That Will Save The Environment And Money

Are you looking for easy zero waste swaps that are good for the environment and will help you save money? I’m always looking for things that I can reuse, and I love when I am able to find easy zero waste swaps. Not only do they produce much less waste, but many times I am…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 25, 2023

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Are you looking for easy zero waste swaps that are good for the environment and will help you save money?

Easy Zero Waste SwapsI’m always looking for things that I can reuse, and I love when I am able to find easy zero waste swaps.

Not only do they produce much less waste, but many times I am able to save money and space (because I don’t have to store as much!). So, many of these easy zero waste swaps are great if you travel full-time as well!

If you’re not sure what I mean by easy zero waste swaps, I am talking about replacing disposable household products with ones you can reuse over and over again. And, there are swaps for all over your house – there are low waste swaps, plastic free swaps, and more.

As a full-time traveler, one of the problems we have with disposable items is that we have to store a lot of things, and many of them will just be thrown away.

We have limited storage space, and I hate using so much of it on things we will just throw away.

By finding easy zero waste swaps, I am able to free up a lot of storage space. This is great for people who travel full-time or are living in a small space, as any storage space is hard to come by!

And, if you travel full-time, having less waste is so important too. It can be difficult to find places to throw away trash, and you don’t want to be lugging around huge bags of trash (it can get stinky and messy!).

Now, I’m not saying that you have to completely upheave your life and change everything. I know it can be easy to feel so overwhelmed that you are unable to make any changes at all. 

However, that’s what I love about the easy zero waste swaps I’m sharing with you today – you can try one, two, or however many you like. Any little bit helps! These are easy ways to reduce waste that will help you save money, and more.

For more on how to reduce reuse recycle, I also recommend reading How To Reduce, Reuse, And Save More Cash.

Now, of course, this isn’t a complete list of things you can swap, but I think this can be a good start!

Here are 13+ easy zero waste swaps.


1. Cloth napkins

This is probably one of the easiest switches that a person can make. We ditched paper towels and switched to cloth napkins when we first moved in together over a decade ago.

We buy maybe 1 or 2 paper towel rolls a year (it’s always nice to have a backup for crazy messes!), and we have actually gone years without buying any more.

We use cloth towels and napkins for everything: to clean up messes, while we are eating, and more.

These are the microfiber cloth towels we have, and we have probably two big stacks of them – around 24, I believe.

Whenever we use them, we just put them in the laundry with whatever laundry we are doing.


2. Fabric shopping bags

Over the years, we have compiled a big collection of fabric shopping bags, and they come in handy! You can find fabric shopping bags at the grocery store next time you go, or you can buy them online as well (such as on Amazon). But, you probably already have some in your home, so you might as well use them.

This is an easy swap that many people are doing these days, and I love seeing it.

We also have a cooler backpack. Since we are often getting groceries by biking or by walking, our groceries tend to get warm fast. We use our cooler backpack to keep our items fresher for longer, and it works great!


3. Fabric produce bags

When I go to the grocery store, I try to forgo plastic bags for fruits and vegetables as much as I can. However, lately when I have been doing this, the cashiers have actually been quite adamant about me putting my produce into plastic bags.

Due to this, I plan on purchasing some fabric produce bags and putting them inside my fabric grocery shopping bags so that I don’t forget them.

You can find fabric produce bags here.


4. Reusable cups

Before I go anywhere, I try to bring my Nalgene bottle or my Hydroflask with me.

These allow me to skip buying drinks while I am out, and wasting plastic as well as money on something that I don’t need (such as buying a boring plastic water bottle). This is another one of the easy zero waste swaps that I am seeing more and more people doing these days.


5. Straw alternatives

Okay, I can’t make a list of easy zero waste swaps without talking about straws.

I realize that not everyone can make this switch, as there are many in the medical community that cannot use different straws and specifically need plastic ones.

But, there are many of us who can still make this change.

For me, I simply forgo straws as much as I can (sometimes they open the straw and give it to me before I can say no, for example).



6. Easy plastic free swaps

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to word this, haha! So, this is a catch-all category for all different kinds of things.

There are many small things in your home that you may be able to find swaps for so that you can save space and use less plastic.

These include shampoos, laundry detergent, other bathroom and kitchen items, and more.

Some ideas for these easy zero waste swaps include:

  • Dilutable Laundry Bar – This laundry bar eliminates the huge plastic jug that you may be using once or even more a month. This one small bar can make up to 125 laundry loads. This is great for saving space, and saves a lot of plastic!
  • Toothpaste Tablets – These tablets turn into toothpaste once water hits it. You just put it in your mouth and start brushing.
  • Shampoo Bar – There are so many options out there right now for shampoo bars. This one linked here is a shampoo and conditioner mix.
  • Wooden toothbrushes – These are great alternatives to plastic toothbrushes, and I find that they last longer than plastic ones.
  • Safety razors – Instead of throwing your razors away after a few uses, safety razors are all metal and you just switch the blade in and out. 


7. Reusable q-tips

LastSwab is a reusable cotton swab that you can use just like a normal q-tip. It comes in a carry case and it’s easy to clean (you just need water and soap). This is an easy zero waste swap that many people probably don’t think of.

By purchasing one LastSwab, you can save at least 1,000 cotton swabs.

You can check out LastSwab here.


8. Reusable sandwich bags

We got our first reusable sandwich bags last summer, and I absolutely love them!

These can be used for sandwiches, trail mix, fruit, and pretty much anything else that you would normally use sandwich bags for. They are also easy to clean and can be placed in the fridge, freezer, dishwasher, and more.

We specifically have the Stasher bags, but there are many others that you can find right here on Amazon. They have a high upfront cost, but the quality is great and ours still feel and look brand new nearly one year later. And, they get heavy use too!


9. Beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap

My mother-in-law recently made us several beeswax wraps, and they work great! Instead of purchasing plastic wrap, beeswax wraps can be reused. 

What I love about this easy zero waste swap is that you can make them on your own, but you can also find many different beeswax wraps here


10. Dryer balls instead of dryer sheets

Do you constantly buy dryer sheets or fabric softeners? If so, then switching to something like dryer balls can help you save a lot of money and prevent unneeded trash. Plus, they work great!

Dryer balls are easy to use. You simply throw them in with your drying load, and it makes the dryer process less time as well as makes your clothes soft.

You can find dryer balls here.


11. Use a french press for coffee.

We’re not huge coffee drinkers, but whenever we wake up for an early morning sail or night time sail, we have coffee ready in the french press.

French presses don’t use coffee filters and are super easy to use.

You can find many affordable french presses here.

For more zero waste kitchen swaps, check out the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker. We just started using one, and it’s great because you simply put ground coffee with tap water into this coffee maker and place it in the fridge. So, we don’t have to use any propane or heat in order to make coffee, which helps save us propane as well and keeps our home cooler.


12. Try reusable period products

The average woman will throw away over 300 pounds of period products over the course of her lifetime, and can spend over $1,700 on tampons alone. That’s a lot of waste!

Now, I know this is one of the zero waste bathroom swaps that might be harder to get behind, but there are a lot of great reusable period products today. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cloth pads – These pads don’t have plastic backing, so they are less irritating on your skin. And, one cloth pad can replace 120 disposable ones.
  • Menstrual underwear – These underwear are leak proof and can be worn instead of a tampon or pad, but you can wear them as a back up too.
  • Menstrual cup – Made out of flexible silicone or latex, these cups can be washed and reused for up to 10 years.


13. Reuse new food jars and containers

There are probably a lot of containers in your refrigerator right now that will make for easy zero waste swaps. These are things like reusing yogurt containers as tupperware, jam and salsa jars for glasses, bread bags for snack bags, and more.

You can easily rinse or wash these things out and reuse them over and over again. When you start looking at what you have, you will be surprised by how many things you can reuse.

What easy zero waste swaps have you made in your life? What are other ways to reduce waste that you are trying? What else should I have added to this list?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. i must to say that I am looking to reduce waste so I tend to drink coffe at home daily and only twice per week in the cafe near office, I have travel mug fot the or other kind of drinks, for grocey shopping I have reusable shoppers but all your tips are great!!!

  2. I never thought of using dryer balls to save money to get my clothes softer.