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Zero Waste Home Products and How To Dispose of Them Properly

Estimated Read Time: 11 Minutes

A room by room guide for creating a zero waste home plus each product’s end of life instructions. Turning your house into a sustainable haven has never been easier. 

So you’re trying to find areas of your life to be more zero waste. Hooray! But it’s a little overwhelming isn’t it? Not only do you have to figure out where you can swap things out, but how many can you do at one time? Is there a learning curve? And what actually makes a product zero waste? We’ve all been fooled by greenwashing before. 

We get it! We’ve been there. 

So how do you even begin to create a zero waste home? The answer is one step at a time. Below is a thorough list of household categories and zero waste products you can use, plus how to dispose of them at the end of their life. See which ones will be the easiest to do right now and save some for later. 

A white bathroom interior with a tasseled towel and netted bag holding toilet paper hanging on the wall, a wooden tray of skin care products placed on top of the toilet, and to the right a ceramic soap dispenser next to a sink

Bathroom Products for a Zero Waste Home

1. Toilet Paper

  • Unpaper Toilet Paper
  • These unpaper toilet paper strips are a great way to take your zero waste home to the next level. Made from 100% cotton flannel they’re just as soft as toilet paper, if not softer! You can alternatively use them to pat dry if you have a bidet.
    To Dispose: DO NOT FLUSH. After use, place in a bin or wet bag and wash every couple of days.
  • Plant Paper
  • Consider switching to bamboo toilet paper. The number of trees cut down daily to make toilet paper is astonishing, and depressing, but often those trees are coming from important forests that help absorb greenhouse gases. Bamboo on the other hand is one of the fastest growing plants requiring little water and no pesticides/fertilizers. 
    To Dispose: PlantPaper will completely break down in septic tanks. To test it for yourself, put a few sheets of planet paper in a jar with water and shake; watch the paper dissolve! 

2. Shampoo/Conditioner

  • Refillable Shampoo & Conditioner
  • These refillable products are a great way to go if you’re not quite ready to make the leap to shampoo bars, or if you prefer a bottle.
    To Dispose: Print a free return label and send back your bottles to Plaine Products. At the end of their life, the bottles are recycled.
  • Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
  • These bars are non-toxic and contain only nourishing ingredients. Store your bars on a soap lift or in a soap bag to keep them dry when not in use to help them last longer. One bar replaces at least 2-3 plastic bottles of product!
    To Dispose: Products come boxed in compostable and biodegradable materials. Place the shampoo box in composting or recycle to dispose of.

3. Body Soap

  • Waterless Soap
  • This powder based body wash is soft on skin but tough on dirt. Made with coconut cleansers, activated charcoal, and argan oil you simply sprinkle some onto your palm, rub into a lather, and wash as usual. 
    To Dispose: Packaged in an aluminum bottle it is infinitely recyclable. 
  • Bar Soap
  • There is a lot of room for creativity with bar soaps. Choose one that sounds best to you but if you don’t like using it on your body, use it for hand soap until it’s gone. (Or put it in the guest bathroom). There are so many amazing options we’re confident you’ll find one you love.
    To Dispose: When you get to the end of your bar, start using it with another bar so they’ll stick together and you can get the most out of it. Packaging/box is compostable or recyclable. 
a bowl wrapped with flower print bees wrap, an orange print sponge cloth, and in the background a blue net bag of fruits

Kitchen Products for a Zero Waste Home

1. Reusable Bottle

  • Water Bottle/Coffee Bottle
  • Carrying a reusable water bottle with you is a great way to ensure you’ll never be thirsty and avoid using extra plastic! While water bottles are available almost everywhere, it’s a smart idea to invest in one that has an end of life plan and doesn’t contain toxins. Keep one in your purse/car/briefcase or wherever else so you never forget it. 
  • Coffee Thermos
  • Make sure to get an insulated one to protect your liquids (and hands). Keep it in the same place as your water bottle so you never forget it. Check with your favorite coffee spot to see if they’re back to accommodating reusable cups. Bonus points for using one bottle for multiple purposes!
    To Dispose: These bottles should be recyclable at your local facility at the end of its life, but always reach out with them to confirm.

2. Food Storage

  • Produce Bags
  • Tired of coming home from the store with more plastic produce bags than actual groceries? These bags are 100% organic cotton and perfect for any grocery or produce need. They can also be used to store your produce once home.
    To Dispose: If your bags cannot be fixed or upcycled, they are completely biodegradable.
  • Beeswax Wrappers
  • Perfect for wrapping up anything — cheese, sandwiches, toothbrushes when traveling, etc. these are a great alternative to bags. All you need is the warmth of your hands to hold the shape and store wherever you need to. These are made with beeswax and not vegan.
    To Dispose: A Beeswrap should last about a year but once it stops holding its shape, you can cut it up and add to your compost pile. If you have a backyard fire or fireplace you can also use it as a firestarter!

3. Dishes

  • Dish Scrubber
  • No one likes doing the dishes so we want to make sure our dish tools are the most effective while being the easiest to use AND eco-friendly. With these scourers you won’t have to compromise on anything! Made from waste coconut coir (the husk), these scours are perfect for tough food residue or any other cleaning dish or non dish related.
    To Dispose: When your scrubber isn’t scrubbing anymore, try using it as a soap lift for your bar soaps! Once it’s really reached the end of its life you can either bury it in your garden or compost it.
  • Sponge Cloth
  • Pliable like a cloth towel, absorbent like a paper towel, Sponge Cloths are a must have for your kitchen. Each towel can absorb 20X its own weight and replace up to 17 rolls of paper towels. They’re machine washable or top rack dishwasher friendly, and can be microwaved as well. Bonus — get one in a fun pattern to brighten up your kitchen! 
    To Dispose: Made of wood pulp and cotton, this towel is 100% compostable and biodegradable once it starts falling apart.
A boxed Guppyfriend Washing Bag, a boxed stain remover bag, and a boxed laundry concetrate next to a cloth laundry hamper with a gray towel hanging over the side

Zero Waste Home Laundry Edition

1. Detergent

  • Laundry Paste
  • Say goodbye to heavy plastic containers filled with overly chemical-smelling detergent. This laundry paste is a soap concentrate that dissolves in liquid. If you have room to store a gallon container then you can dissolve the whole bar, if not, you can dissolve only what you can store.
    To Dispose: Your bar will dissolve into liquid and the box can be recycled or composted.
  • Laundry Sheets
  • No measuring, no heavy bottles, these sheets are made with 5 eco-friendly ingredients and are the perfect size for a standard load of laundry. Compatible with all washing machines.
    To Dispose: Sheets will dissolve in the wash, the box they come in is 100% recyclable.

2. Laundry Accessories

  • Microfiber Catching Laundry Bag
  • Everytime we wash our clothes, fibers from synthetic fabrics break off and are released into the pipes, rivers, and oceans. This laundry bag is slick on the inside which leads to less abrasion and therefore less shedding. What does break off will collect in the bag which you can collect from the bag after your load.
    To Dispose: Throw the microfibers into the trash in a sealed container. At the end of the bag’s life it can be recycled with the same material (except for the zipper) or be returned to be made into a new bag. 
  • Wool Dryer Ball
  • Wool dryer balls bounce around in your dryer helping to separate the clothes and keep from clumping together. This helps the air flow better in the dryer reducing dryer time. The wool absorbs water from the wet clothes, then releases it while drying, helping to de-wrinkle your clothes. It also acts as a natural fabric softener eliminating the need for fabric softeners.
    To Dispose: Try to find a way to upcycle the dryer balls — a massage tool, scent boosters, or a craft project. If they’re really really done, they are 100% compostable.
Stacked rainbow cloth towels and a ceramic plate of fruits on a raffia woven mat, a vase of yellow flowers in the background

Cleaning Products for A Zero Waste Home

1. Cleaning Solution

  • All Purpose Solution
  • This solution uses a blend of oils and soap to create the most effective all purpose cleaner. Non-toxic to kids and pets you won’t have to shut off each room to clean anymore. The refill can be purchased without the spray cap for minimal waste.
    To Dispose: Recycle the glass jar with like materials. Refill comes with a metal cap that can be recycled.
  • Carpet Fresh
  • Need to really clean those carpets but don’t have time (or resources) to shampoo them? Simple Carpet Fresh will help to break up the grime caught in carpet and is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Simply mix with water, (shake), spray on carpet, and vacuum up.
    To Dispose: Concentrate powder comes in a stainless steel tin that can be upcycled or recycled at the end of its life.
  • Bathroom Cleaner
  • No need to worry about which chemical cleaners you can and cannot mix anymore! This bathroom cleaner is made with a few, but effective, germ killers. Available in a spray bottle or refill bottle without the nozzle. If you already have a spray bottle around the house, opt for the refill.
    To Dispose: Clean and recycle the glass jar & metal lid of the refill jar. If disposing of the spray nozzle as well, take apart and recycle with like material.

2. Cleaning Accessories

  • Unpaper Towels
  • Made from 100% cotton flannel, these towels are great for any kind of cleaning job. They get more absorbent with washes so as time goes on they’ll work better and harder. They can be used for counters, cabinets, doors, windows, the list goes on. 
  • Reusable Mop Covers
  • Mopping is much less of a hassle than it used to be thanks to single use wet mops. But each one is only good for one use. Reusable mop covers are an excellent solution. Keep the same mop handle but load it with a cloth wipe instead. You can use them dry to sweep, or keep them stored in a container with your favorite floor cleaner for an easily accessible wet option. To Dispose: Cloths are made from 100% cotton. At the end of its life it can be turned into a dirty-job rag or if it’s past that it can be composted.
  • Reusable Spray Bottle
  • DIY your own all-purpose cleaner with vinegar and water (or anything else). Or, get your favorite cleaning solution in bulk and keep it in this handy reusable spray bottle.
    To Dispose: This bottle can be reused endlessly. If no longer using it as a cleaner, remove the plastic nozzle, deconstruct it and recycle appropriately. If the glass breaks, check with your local recycling company but you’ll most likely need to wrap it in something sturdy and put it in the trash.

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