5 easy and low-effort plastic alternatives for zero-waste beginners


Living a truly zero-waste lifestyle takes commitment. You’ll need to shop at bulk stores, change your eating habits, and find ways to compost and reuse the waste you do create. It requires significant lifestyle changes and lots of perseverance – which makes it definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. 

But you don’t have to go all in. After all, the zero-waste movement isn’t a competition to see who can generate the least amount of waste. It’s a way to reduce the garbage we create as much as possible. Even if you swap one single item for a plastic-free alternative, that’s a step in the right direction. Imagine how big of an impact could be made if millions of people decided to change a single-use plastic item for a sustainable alternative! 

Even if you’re not shopping at zero-waste bulk stores, and even if you’re still using a chemical cleaning product, there are plenty of easy zero-waste swaps that don’t require a big commitment – or investment. Here are some of our favorite plastic swaps that require almost no lifestyle changes and don’t take up space in your bag when you’re out and about.

Eco-friendly produce bags

Whether you shop at a wet market or the produce aisle at a grocery store, you’ll probably know just how many plastic bags you end up using to pack and weigh your apples, leeks and broccoli. By using a cotton mesh bag instead, you’ll save at least a handful of plastic bags on every grocery store visit.

Reusable shopping bags help you save kilos of single-use plastic per year

Reusable shopping bags

As with produce bags, plastic grocery bags can quickly add up to your plastic usage. Instead, pack a reusable shopping bag every time you leave home so you can say ‘no’ to the cashier when they ask if you’d like a bag with your purchase. If you’re the forgetful type, some reusable shopping bags can be stored in containers that easily attach to your keychain. 

Reusable kitchen towels

Paper kitchen towels are a double whammy. Not only do they often use virgin wood pulp in their production process, they’re also packed and sold in plastic wraps. Instead, opt for reusable kitchen towels from organic cotton – usually packed plastic-free and endlessly washable. 

Beeswax food wraps are a great way of storing loaves of bread without plastic.

Plastic-free food covers

Plastic cling wrap is magic – it’s affordable, keeps food fresh, and moulds over all kinds of shapes and surfaces. The downside, however, is that you can only use it once (or not at all, if you manage to tangle it up before even using it!), creating heaps of plastic waste. Food covers from beeswax are a great plastic-free alternative: they’re all-natural and just as flexible as cling film. And because beeswax has antibacterial properties, it will keep your food fresh for longer

Reusable make-up remover pads

Why stick to single-use cotton pads when there are longer-lasting alternatives? Reusable make-up remover pads are usually made from organic cotton and can be washed and reused for many times. Plus, they look so much cuter!

It may take a few days of adapting, but these plastic swaps are easy habits to pick up and make a great starting point for a more sustainable zero-waste lifestyle. But most importantly, taking a small step towards reducing your plastic usage is still 100% better than taking no steps at all!

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