Editor’s note: Jessie Stokes owns a popular online zero waste shop called Tiny Yellow Bungalow, which sells eco products that are packaged and shipped plastic-free. Tiny Yellow Bungalow is based in Athens, Georgia, so items don’t have to ship far to Gwinnett County. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Jessie in person (she’s so sweet and genuine!) and also enjoy following her on Instagram and being a member of her zero waste Facebook community. I asked her to contribute her top ten product picks for our blog.
I first started learning about sustainability back in 2015. There are many of different aspects of eco-friendly living, but I was most drawn at first to the zero waste movement. I felt like creating less trash was a change I could make to better the environment, and one that I could actually see. I liked the intentionality of it, and the idea of being genuinely conscious of the things I brought into my home. Although I found the zero waste lifestyle fascinating, it also seemed a bit overwhelming in the beginning.
I’ve been working to lower our family’s household waste for years now. As an experienced eco-enthusiast, here’s a list of my ten favorite zero waste products to kickstart your eco lifestyle. First, a quick reminder that one of the main principles of low-waste living is to use what you have! Don’t throw out all the plastic products in your home just so you can start fresh. Use up what you have first, and make do with what you already own. Then, consider slowly making these simple swaps.
Reusable produce bags
I’m guessing you probably already have a stash of reusable shopping bags for trips to the grocery store, but have you considered reusable produce bags? That’s right, you can avoid those pesky single-use plastic bags in the produce section by replacing them with reusable ones! I really like this set of five bags because the bags are made of a lightweight, transparent material that makes it easy for the cashier to scan your produce. This is a great first step to reduce waste.
Starting small is fabulous. Consider switching from a plastic toothbrush to a toothbrush with a compostable bamboo handle. Even the packaging on these brushes is completely plastic-free. By the way, these make excellent eco stocking stuffers!
Zero waste toothpaste
There are tons of zero waste toothpaste options out there. I absolutely love David’s Premium Natural Toothpaste. It comes in a recyclable metal tube with an old-school turn key to make sure you get every drop of the paste out of the tube. Of all the zero waste toothpastes I’ve tried, this is the one that is most comparable to conventional paste in texture and taste. If you prefer toothpaste with fluoride, check out these awesome toothpaste tablets. You crunch the tablet with your front teeth, add water to your brush, and then scrub your teeth like normal!
Another simple sustainable swap is using bar soap instead of soap in plastic bottles. Check your local farmer’s market to see if there are any local soap makers to support. My personal favorite soap brand is Unearth Malee. They make amazing plastic-free, vegan, organic soaps that are packaged in flower seed paper that you can plant to grow wildflowers. It’s magical! 🙂
I feel like people either love or hate shampoo bars, but here’s the real key to shampoo bars: You have to find the RIGHT bar for your hair type! I experimented with a few different bars until I found this bar that I ADORE. I always recommend this bar! (Zero waste isn’t just for humans, BTW — I carry a dog shampoo bar in my shop!)
Compostable dish scrubber
Instead of using those disposable sponges, consider switching to a compostable dish scrubber. These dish scrubbers are made of loofah and dyed with natural plant dyes. They last just as long as a conventional sponge but at the end of their life, you can compost them. They’re also colorful and come in a variety of fun shapes!
Solid dish soap
Did you know there is such a thing as solid dish soap? Yes! Instead of dish soap packaged in plastic bottles, you can use Savon de Marseille soap blocks. This soap has been around much longer than all modern things zero waste. This soap actually originated in Syria. Later, this traditional soap became popularized in Marseille, France in the 14th century, and continues to be enjoyed throughout France and around the world. It’s that good! To use solid dish soap, simply wet your dish scrubber and scrub it directly on the soap block to form a strong lather, then use those bubbles to wash your dishes.
Disposable paper towels are so wasteful. They’re also not cheap. Instead, you can use “unpaper” towels for cleaning up at home. They’re basically lightweight dishcloths that you can reuse and wash between uses. They are available plain or in cute patterns and prints.
Plastic-free laundry detergent
Most conventional laundry detergents these days contain many chemicals and are packaged in plastic. You can skip both the chemicals and the plastic by using laundry strips. These are paper-like strips of laundry detergent. You simply shred a strip and toss it into your laundry and it cleans your clothes. Crazy, right?! These come packaged in a paper envelope that you can recycle.
I saved the safety razor for last, because some people consider this a more advanced zero waste swap. Stainless steel safety razors can seem intimidating at first but trust me, with a little practice you will love it! The safety razor is by far one of my all-time favorite zero waste swaps. I get the closest shave with it, and don’t plan to ever go back to disposable razors!
I hope you enjoyed my quick list of zero waste products to kick start your eco lifestyle! There are so many different ways to reduce waste in your home. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by it all, just start by choosing one of the swaps and baby step your way from there! As Anne Marie Bonneau, the Zero Waste Chef, says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Together we can make a difference!
About Gwinnett Recycles: Gwinnett Recycles is focused on helping Gwinnett County, the second-largest county in the state of Georgia, reduce, reuse, compost, and recycle more material and keep waste out of landfills and the environment. Gwinnett Recycles is run 100% independently by citizen volunteers. To connect with us and support our efforts, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, subscribe to our newsletter, and consider volunteering with us!