Last updated on November 13, 2023
Learn zero-waste swaps that are good for the Earth and fun for you! Start your eco-journey with these tips and tricks.
Zero waste may be a relatively new term, but it’s a trend that’s taken many of us by storm and has already led to some pretty significant changes in our habits as consumers. With something like our food shopping, in particular, recent years have seen a surge in the businesses that are offering packaging-free product refills, as well as things like loose produce.
But, the zero waste movement has also come under some fire from avid environmentalists who claim that it may be acting as something of a smokescreen to our behaviors elsewhere. And, this claim isn’t altogether inaccurate. After all, while many of us are now conscious of the waste we produce from our shopping habits, we’re often guilty of continuing to overlook the waste that may be produced from even our household habits elsewhere.
Yet, from our decor choices to our fixtures and fittings, a surprising amount of the things we do in our homes create waste in one way or another. Until we address this, it isn’t easy to ever achieve a truly impactful, truly zero-waste lifestyle.
So, even if you’ve been successfully cutting back on waste within your food shops, it’s past time that you also considered the following at-home zero-waste swaps that could take your efforts from strength to strength.
This post is all about zero-waste swaps.
4 Zero Waste Swaps
1. Reusable Dishcloths
Let’s start with something that might feel pretty familiar to the swaps you’re already making – reusable dishcloths. After all, this is a household essential that most of us can go without, yet disposable dishcloths and, in particular, cleaning wipes, create significant levels of microplastic pollution.
The good news here is that many retailers are switching to biodegradable wipe and cleaning cloth products, but these products are still packaged in plastic, and they can contain some pretty strong chemicals. There are also plenty of brands out there that continue to sell plastic wipes and cloths. So, switching to a reusable cloth, or even a cloth that you’ve made yourself out of natural fibers, is a far preferable choice. In fact, given that you can also wash a cloth like this, it can see you taking a significant step towards a much-needed zero-waste lifestyle.
2. Long-Lasting Appliances
85% of electronic household waste ends up in landfills, and many of those electronics include household appliances that haven’t been built to last. This is terrible news, especially considering that the incineration of these products leads to the release of some pretty pungent toxins. Yet, in an age where the average home fixture is designed to last ten years or less, this is a trap that even the most conscious consumers can easily fall into.
Secondhand appliance sales and sites like Facebook Marketplace do now mean that many of us are at least attempting to dispose of our appliances consciously. But, with more plastic produced whenever we purchase a new dishwasher, and with no guarantee of how long that secondhand buyer will hold onto your old one, this is still a potentially problematic option. Hence it’s far more advisable to simply seek long-lasting appliances in the first place. Generally speaking, achieving this goal means seeking quality brands that offer warranties and quality testing on their appliances. For filtered appliances like your air con, extractor fan, and so on, it’s also worth thinking about the longevity of your filters themselves, with something like carbon air filters tending to last a lot longer than many plastic-heavy alternatives. These switches can lead to significant changes in the ways you use, maintain, and dispose of household appliances moving forward.
3. Repurposed Furniture
Mass-produced furniture is heading to landfills in significant quantities, and that poses some notable environmental issues, especially considering that this type of furniture typically contains plastic. In light of this, even retailers like IKEA are urging consumers to repurpose furniture when it outgrows its use, and that’s advice that every zero waste homeowner needs to take onboard.
Again, there is always the option of selling or giving away furniture you no longer want, but as already stated, this option isn’t a guaranteed zero-waste lifestyle. Instead, simple repurposing hacks like painting old chairs, covering old sofas with new fabric, or even using an old basket as a planter, can all help you to keep things in your home and serve a purpose for a lot longer than they might otherwise. Adaptable furniture options like those sold by IKEA can also be used for more extreme repurposing hacks if you feel up to the challenge, with countless YouTube tutorials now instructing how to transform such pieces to serve completely different uses within your home as required.
4. Sustainable Flooring
Sustainability, and zero waste, also play a role in your decor itself, especially when it comes to features like your flooring which, as well as being difficult to sustainably dispose of, can create significant offcuts during an initial fitting. This is bad news for traditionally unsustainable flooring solutions like plastic-heavy carpeting and laminate, but it’s an issue that can be easily addressed with sustainable flooring alternatives like bamboo and cork flooring.
These biodegradable flooring choices are great for easier, less-impactful disposal as required, but they also reduce the issue of disposing of excessive, damaging offcuts, especially if you work with a professional fitting company to get your room measurements just right. Even if you are left with small offcuts from these products, you can find alternative uses for them around the home, including DIY cork boards, decorative features, and more.
A zero-waste lifestyle is a worthy cause no matter how you choose to implement it, but remember that, with things like your food shopping, you are somewhat limited in your choices by large companies who continue to use plastic packages as standard.
With that in mind, a truly zero-waste lifestyle should also stretch to eco-friendly products in other areas of your life, including your home, where these simple switches could significantly cut back on the waste you experience from both standard life stuff, and even periods of renovation!
This post was all about zero-waste swaps.