How Not to Buy New Zero Waste Products


Refusing and reducing our consumption are best ways reduce our impact on the planet. While plastic-free reusable alternatives are better than plastic disposables, you can further reduce your impact and save money by not buying new at all. By buying used or making do with what you already have, less resources are used to create new products.

Although we retail sustainable alternatives for people looking for them, we’re not here to promote blind consumerism - in fact, it’s the opposite. We encourage everyone to be mindful of every purchase they make. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before purchasing a new product: Do I really need this product or can I make do with what I already have? Was this product made ethically and sustainably? What is it made of? How long will this product last? What will I do if the product becomes damaged? Would I be able to repair it? What will I do with this product if I no longer need it or if it reaches the end of its life? Will this product add value to my life?

In addition, we know that many of our zero waste alternatives are more expensive than their disposable plastic counterparts. While there are good reasons for why our products are priced the way they are, we realize many people do not find them affordable.

Of course, if you prefer to not dabble in DIY projects for whatever reason, we’ve got you covered.

Now, let’s get to the alternatives to the alternatives.

  1. Bamboo travel cutlery or cutlery wraps


  • Sew your own cutlery carriers.
  • Buy thrifted cutlery.
  • Simply wrap your existing cutlery in a small hand towel.

  1. Travel coffee mug


  • Thrift it.
  • Use a mason jar wrapped with rubber bands or an old sock top to act as a sleeve. You can also add rubber bands underneath the sock cozy to help prevent the sock cozy from sliding around and increase insulation. The sleeve is important so you and your barista don’t burn yourselves when adding hot water to it.


  1. Organic cotton bags


  1. Handkerchiefs and reusable napkins


  • Cut up old cotton t-shirts.

  1. Wool dryer balls (fabric softener alternative)


  • Skip them altogether along with fabric softener sheets and deal with some static.
  • Use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

  1. Reusable straws


  • Skip the straw altogether.
  • Hold onto the disposable plastic straw you will inevitably get one day with your cold drink even after requesting “no straw”. Reuse that straw.

  1. Reusable sandwich or ziplock bags


  • Continue using your existing stash of disposable ziplock bags, but wash them out and reuse them instead.


  1. Beeswax food wraps (plastic wrap alternatives)


  • Put cut produce cut side down on a plate.
  • Put a plate on top of the bowl you want to cover.
  • Transfer the food you want to store into a reusable container that you already own.
  • Don’t bother wrapping cut produce at all and simply slice off the thin dried out layer that forms and compost that.


  1. Stainless steel food containers
  • Continue using your existing plastic tupperware and old yogurt containers if you’re comfortable storing your food in plastic.
  • Reuse old jars.


  1. Deodorant in paper tubes or glass jars

  1. Organic eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Use baking soda + vinegar.


  1. Organic, natural, fair-trade clothing
  • Buy used clothing from thrift stores, consignment stores, or Facebook free & for sale groups.
  • Swap clothes with friends.

  1. Organic plastic-free hair ties
  • Cut rings from old socks or pantyhose and use them as hair ties.


  1. Natural toothpaste in jars

  1. Cotton facial rounds
  • Cut up an old cotton t-shirt or towel.

As you can see, making zero waste swaps doesn’t have to be expensive or consumeristic. Even we don’t use all the zero waste products that we sell because we have found ways to make do with what we already have. With a little bit of creativity and time, you can avoid buying new products. If you choose to buy new, do so mindfully rather than on impulse. Again, making use of what already exists will often be more sustainable (and affordable) than purchasing a new green product.


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  • Great post. Thanks for highlighting that the most impactful “zero waste” approach is to focus on the “zero” part and do without or repurpose creatively. I love your store and really admire your philosophy and approach. Thanks for creating such an inspiring place. Hope to visit in person again soon! Tip: socks can also be used on cold beverage containers to keep them from sweating condensation all over the place :)

  • Love the ideas and transparency. I find it ironic when “eco friendly” stores also sell gag gifts and impractical trinkets. The sock as a mug cozy is a great idea for repurposing orphan socks!

  • Excellent post!! Handkerchiefs and cloth napkins are always always at the thrift store and usually cheap. But I got a bunch for free by asking family members that had them but didn’t use them anymore!

  • We have made hankies out of old bedsheets too.

    Mama Squirrel

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