10 Zero Waste Products That Will Work on A Budget

Zero waste products help the environment by eliminating single-use, non-recyclable waste in packaging.  Also, they are often produced in facilities that prioritize sustainability both in the manufacturing and distribution process. However, doing something the “right way” often comes with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, as the market has grown for eco-friendly options, prices have become more affordable. 

However, before you go out and purchase something just because it is labeled “zero waste” it’s good to understand some criteria for determining what makes a purchase a good option for you and your lifestyle. 

What Makes a Zero Waste Product a Good Option For You?

When making changes to live more sustainably it’s important to answer these questions before you buy online.

Can I reuse something I already own?
Can I repurpose something I already own?
Can I buy this at a local resale shop?
Do I need to replace a consumable item that is only used once?
Can I recycle this if it breaks or I don’t need it anymore?  
Can I reduce my need for this product altogether?

Instead of going out and buying the latest “zero waste” goods, look around your home for things that can be reused or repurposed.  For example, do you need a new water bottle? Or do you have one you can reuse? If you can reuse or repurpose something you already own, it can cut back on emissions generated when products are shipped to you.

Most consumable items like household cleaners and personal care products need to be purchased. Before making the switch to a zero waste option make sure you use up whatever you already have on hand. Also, when choosing a sustainable replacement consider storing it containers you already own and prioritize zero waste packing when choosing suppliers. Local resale shops are a great place to find reusable glass containers if you don’t have something on hand. 

For non-consumable goods, it’s generally OK to purchase something new as long as you have exhausted your reuse or repurpose options. A new purchase can be a great investment if it’s something that will last and you plan to use regularly. 

10 Zero Waste Products That Will Work On a Budget

We researched a wide range of products in the zero waste market and made a list of affordable options so you can make the switch without compromising your budget. We focused on consumable products like cleaning supplies and personal care items as well as a handful of typically disposable items that can be replaced by switching to a reusable alternative.

QUICK LINKS

Best Dish Soap
Best Dishwasher Detergent
Best Laundry Detergent
Best Household Cleaner
Best for Food Storage
Best for Dental Hygiene
Best for Hair Care
Best Reusable Straw
Best for Face Care
Best Paper Towel Alternative

Best Dish Soap

Clean Cult Soap

Cleancult Liquid Dishsoap

$7.00 for 16 oz.

Cleancult sells lemongrass scented liquid dish soap refills in cardboard boxes that can be recycled after use. You can purchase a reusable glass bottle from Cleancult, or supply your own.

What we like best: The cardboard box is easy to recycle, but also easy to store until you are ready to use it. Compared to competitor products, the pricing is very reasonable, especially if you decide to reuse a glass or plastic dispenser you already have on hand. 

Compare To:

Blueland Dish Soap Refill
Blueland Dish Soap Powder
$20.00  for 16 oz. 
No Tox Dishwashing Block
No Tox Life Dishwashing Block
$10.00 for 5.9 oz. 
The Earthling Solid Dish Soap
The Earthling Co. Solid Dish Soap
$18.00 for 8 oz. 

Best Dishwasher Detergent

Dropps Dishwasher Detergent

Dropps Dishwasher Detergent Pods

$25.00  for 64 loads ($0.39 per load)

Each tab contains dishwashing powder in a dissolvable sack, so it’s much less messy than other dishwasher powders. You can purchase a subscription plan that will auto-ship each month for additional savings. 

What we like best: Dropps dishwasher tabs come in an easy to recycle cardboard box that doubles as the shipping container, so there is no extra packaging! 

Compare To:

Cleancult Dishwasher Tabs
Cleancult Dishwasher Tablets
$14.00  for 18 loads ($0.77 per load)
Butter Me Up Dishwasher Tabs
Butter Me Up Dishwasher Soap
$12.00 for 32 loads ($0.37 per load) 
Blueland Dishwasher Refill
Blueland Dishwasher Refill Packs
$14.00 for 40 loads ($0.35 per load) 

Best Laundry Detergent

Meliora Laundry Powder

Meliora Laundry Powder

$12.99 for 64 loads ($0.20 per load)

Meliora is a small Chicago based company that creates and ships all of their plastic-free cleaning products from their own warehouse. 

What we like best: This laundry powder gives you a lot of bang for your buck and is by far the best priced, plastic-free detergent we found. Not only that there are multiple scents to choose from including unscented, lavender, lemon and lemon-lavender-clove.

Compare To:

Dropps Laundry
Dropps Laundry Detergent
$24.00 for 64 loads ($0.37 per load)
The Simply Co Laundry Detergent Powder
The Simply Co. Laundry Detergent
$18.00 for 60 loads ($0.30 per load)
Blueland Laundry Tabs
Blueland Laundry Refill Packs
$14.00 for 40 loads ($0.35 per load)

Best Household Cleaner Sets

Blueland Cleaner Kit

Blueland The Clean-Up Kit

$29.00 for 3, 20 oz. glass spray bottles and cleaner refills.

Kit includes: glass + mirror, multi surface and bathroom. Individual refills packs cost $2 apiece and come in packs of 3, 6 or 9. 

What we like best: The refill tablet packs are wrapped in compostable packaging and shipped in paper padded mailers made from 77% recycled fibers.

Compare To:

Supernatural Cleaning Set
Supernatural Starter Set
$74.00 for 4 glass spray bottles and cleaner refills including counters + granite, glass + mirrors, bath + tile and wood + floors. Individual refill packs cost $10.00 apiece but can be purchased for a small discount in larger quantities.
Jaws Cleaning Set
Jaws Home Cleaning Kit
$27.99 for 23 oz.  4 recyclable plastic spray bottles and 2 cleaner refills for glass, shower, kitchen and hardwood floor cleaner. Individual refills cost $2.99 apiece and come in packs of 2 or 24.

Best Food Storage

The White Farm Food Wraps

The White Farm Natural Beeswax Food Wraps 

$13.00 for 4 sheets (small, medium, large and extra-large)

The reusable food storage options on Etsy are vast and it is a great place to find a wide variety of beeswax wraps in various sizes and colors. 

What we like best: This 4 pack in small, medium, large and extra-large stood out as an affordable, 100% handmade option that ships promptly and is very well-reviewed.

Compare To: 

Net Zero Food Wraps
Net Zero Reusable Beeswax Plastic Wrap
$19.99 for 3 sheets (small, medium and large)
Abeego Reusable Food Wraps
Abeego Beeswax Food Wraps
$18.00 for 3 sheets (small, medium and large)
Public Goods Food Wraps
Public Goods Reusable Storage Food Wraps
$14.00 for 3 sheets (small, medium and large)

Best for Dental Care

Bite Tooth Paste Bit

Bite Toothpaste Bits

$30.00 for 248 bits ($0.12 apiece) 

Toothpaste bits come in three flavors including mint, berry twist and mint charcoal.

What we like best: Bite is affordable and ships in higher quantities, so you’ll have to order less often.  They also make dissolvable mouthwash bits which will help you eliminate more disposable plastics and make lots of room in your bathroom storage!

Compare To: 

Georganics Tooth Tablets
Georganics Natural Toothpaste Tablets
$13.00 for 120 tablets ($0.10 apiece). Come in 4 flavors including spearmint, English peppermint, activated charcoal and orange.
Natural Tooth Tablets
Bamboo Switch All Natural Tooth Tablets
$12.00 for 130 tablets ($0.06 apiece). Comes in one mint flavor and is mailed in a resealable paper bag. 
Chomp Tooth Tablets
Chomp Toothpaste Tablets
$12.95 for 60 tablets ($0.21 apiece). Comes in two flavors: playful peppermint and sinful cinnamon. You can purchase refill packs for $7.95.

Best Hair Care

Public Goods Shampoo Bar

Public Good Shampoo and Conditioner Bars 

$5.00 for 3.25 oz bar ($1.53 per oz)

Public Goods shampoo and conditioner bars come in recyclable paper packaging and are sulfate-free. 

What we like best: Shampoo and conditioner bars last longer than liquid options!  With a soap bar, you only use what you need, whereas most people tend to use more liquid than they really need with the excess washing down the drain. 

Compare To: 

Earthling Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
The Earthling Co. Shampoo and Conditioner Bars 
$13.00 for 1.4 oz ($9.28 per oz)
Refillable Shampoo Bottle
Plaine Products Refillable Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles 
$30.00 for 16 oz ($1.87 per oz)
HiBar Shampoo Bar
HiBar Shampoo and Conditioner Bars 
$13.95 for 3.2 oz bar ($4.35 per oz)

Bonus Tip: When transitioning from liquid to bar shampoo it’s a good idea to use an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week or so for the first few weeks. This will offset any extra oil production while your hair adjusts to a sulfate-free product.

Best Reusable Straw

Steel Creek Straw Kit

Steel Creek 4-Piece Reusable Straw Kit

$14.99

The kit includes 2 stainless steel straws, cleaning brush and a carrying case.

What we like best: You get two straws for a reasonable price and the convenient on-the-go kit has space for additional straws. We prefer stainless steel because it’s easy to clean, but check out the bamboo option below for another affordable choice. 

Compare To: 

Bamboo Straw
Be The Change Bamboo Straw
$9.95 for 2 bamboo straws, a cleaning brush and canvas carrying case.
Eco Girl Straws
Shell Creek Eco Girl Reusable Stainless Steel Straw Set
$12.95 for two stainless steel straws, a cleaning brush and canvas carrying case. 
Collapsible Straw
Package Free Collapsible Straw with Carrying Case
$24.95 for 1 collapsible stainless steel straw and carrying case. 

Best for Face Care

Marleys Monster Facial Rounds

Marley’s Monsters 20 Reusable Cotton Rounds

$13.00 for 20, 3-inch cotton rounds ($0.65 apiece) 

The rounds are made from two ply flannel and can be washed and reused to apply products, remove makeup and cleanse the face.

What we like best: These are fun and much more affordable than other options we explored. They are also reinforced at the edge and come in lots of colors, though Marley’s Monsters offers them in more neutral colors if you prefer that.   

Compare To:

The Green Shop Cotton Rounds
The Green Shop 12 Reusable Bamboo Cotton Fiber Makeup Remover Facial Pads
$10.99 for 12, 3-inch bamboo cotton rounds ($0.91 apiece).
 
Eco Roots Cotton Rounds
Eco Roots 10 Organic Reusable Cotton Rounds
$10.97 for 10, large reusable facial rounds ($1.09 apiece). 
Wasteless Shop Facial Rounds
The Waste Less Shop Reusable Facial Rounds
$28.00 for 20 reusable facial rounds ($1.40 apiece).  

Best Paper Towel Alternative

Green Green Shop Bamboo Towels

The Green Green Shop Machine Washable Bamboo Paper Towels

$15.00 for 20 pre-rolled towels ($0.75 per sheet)

These “paper” towels are made from  sustainably sourced bamboo, are machine washable, and can be used around 60x. When you are done with them, they can be composted because they are 100% biodegradable.

What we like best: These towels come with reusable mesh bags labeled clean and dirty! Unlike most cloth towels, these won’t leave lint behind on surfaces.  For most households, one roll will last up to 6 months.

Compare To:

Tough Towels
Tough Towels All-Purpose Reusable Paperless Towels
$24.99 for 21 pre-rolled towels ($1.19 per sheet)
Not Paper Towels
Well Earth Good NotPaper Towels 12 pack
$29.00 for 12 unrolled towels ($2.42 per sheet)
Marleys Monsters UnPaper Towels
Marley’s Monsters Unpaper Towels 12 pack
$54.00 for 12 unrolled towels ($4.50 per sheet)

Bonus tip: After you’ve gone through your first roll of cloth towels you’ll need to wash, dry and roll them back up for easy use. Check out this tutorial to roll up your own cloth towels!

Why Should I Go Zero Waste?

Cutting back on the amount of trash generated by the products you use and consume can help reduce your carbon footprint by lowering greenhouse gas emissions that lead  to global warming.

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are created through the production, use and disposal of a product, service or activity. That includes carbon dioxide, which is the gas that humans emit when we breathe. It also includes gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. When released in the air, these gases get trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and lead to global warming.

Calculating your own carbon footprint means estimating the emissions generated by the products you use, the activities you participate in and the waste you create. Everyone’s carbon footprint will be different, but on average Americans have larger footprints because we travel often, have larger homes, consume more meat and use more single-use plastics. 

You can calculate your score using a carbon footprint calculator