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10 tried and true zero-waste products I love

January 5, 2020

It’s 2020 and I’ve been on my zero/low-waste journey for about two years now. Everyday I learn something new. Recently, I’ve been trying to give myself more grace when it comes to the amount of waste I produce, because sometimes it’s really hard to avoid.

In fact, sometimes the most sustainable option isn’t the most practical. Or other times, the most eco-friendly item is significantly out of my price range. 

I do my best to buy products and support brands that 1. produce materials ethically, 2. consider the environmental impact of whatever they’re manufacturing/creating, and 3. are transparent about their practices or are locally-owned.

I’ve tried many products throughout the last two years and I’ve even dabbled in making a lot of my own, too! Some of those items I still use to this day… and others, I’ve either found a better alternative or I’m still on the look out for something better.

Here are 10 of my favorite zero/low-waste products that have consistently worked for me over the last two years and that I can definitely recommend to folks looking to lower their waste:

  1. Zao liquid eyeliner
  2. Hydroflask and Klean Kanteen
  3. Avocado oil as makeup remover
  4. Ethique shampoo bar
  5. Menstrual cup
  6. Bamboo toothbrush
  7. Concealer – RMS Beauty, Elate Cosmetics and Hynt Beauty
  8. Second-hand items
  9. Pela phone case
  10. French press

ONE // Zao Organic Makeup: Organic Felt Tip Eyeliner

I’ve talked about this eyeliner before. If you want a more in-depth look at why I love this eyeliner, check out my previous post here.

I’m a big liquid eyeliner fan. Finding a plastic-free alternative was tough. But I’m actually really pleased with this liner. It stays on well, it makes nice dark black lines that don’t seem to turn grayish throughout the day (liquid eyeliner wearers, you know what I mean).

Now it does come off a bit if my eyes get watery or if I am itching my eyes often. But that’s to be expected with a non-waterproof liner. But for being zero waste and all-natural/organic… this formula is pretty dope.

I also have sensitive eyes/am prone to eye infections, but I haven’t noticed any additional irritation with this liner.

It’s pricier than traditional drug store brands… but for a more luxury/Sephora quality, it’s about standard.

Price: $29.50, which includes the bamboo case. Refills are $19.

The refills are glass and can be washed out and reused or recycled. The bamboo case is sturdy and designed to last.

TWO // Hydroflask and Klean Kanteen

I like to put stickers on my water bottles. And yes, that is a sticker of George Costanza posing on a couch.

Another item I’ve talked about before. I use a Hydroflask as my reusable water bottle and a Klean Kanteen as my reusable to-go thermos.

Both brands are top notch and keep your beverages hot or cold for hours. Some folks swear by one or the other. I like both! I’d say go with whichever one appeals to you :]

But, both are expensive. A standard 18-ounce Hydroflask is around $30. And Klean Kanteens are around the same price per ounce. If a quality water bottle isn’t in your budget, opt for a cheaper one! Walmart typically has tons of cheap water bottles, and so does Dollar Tree. I’d recommend getting a glass or aluminum bottle over a plastic one, but even a reusable plastic bottle is better than using disposable plastic water bottles. :]

THREE // Makeup remover: Avocado oil

I’ve previously written posts about my dry skin. But over the last six months, I discovered I don’t have “dry” skin, I have dehydrated skin — which is completely different.

Dry skin is lacking oil and dehydrated skin lacks water. I was putting tons of oil on my face, hoping it would help my dry patches. And it did sometimes… but more often it just wasn’t helping as much as I’d hoped. Then I tried water-based products, and my skin is back to normal.

But I didn’t give up on oils altogether. I still use oils to remove my makeup and as carrier oils for my essential oil concoctions.

I especially like avocado oil and sweet almond oil. I practice the oil-cleansing method. Check out how that works in my previous post here. (Note: This post was written before I realized I had dehydrated skin. My skincare routine looks different now!)

Oil works really well at taking off my makeup and leaving my skin smooth and soft. It doesn’t break me out and it really does the trick in removing makeup and dirt and grime from the day. I’d recommend it!

FOUR // Ethique: Heali Kiwi shampoo bar

From left, The Guardian conditioner bar and Heali Kiwi shampoo bar, both by Ethique.

I wrote a pretty in-depth review of Ethique on a previous post, check it out here.

For a year, I tried a few different shampoo bars, and none of them worked well with my hair. My hair would feel slimy and oily, and I just wasn’t a fan. I read reviews about Ethique’s shampoo bars and I bought a sample kit. I haven’t even considered buying another shampoo since using Ethique’s.

If you’ve tried shampoo bars before and they haven’t worked for you, or if you’re skeptical of using shampoo bars — look no further. Honestly. When you wash your hair with Ethique, your hair pretty much feels like you used Panteen or Herbal Essences or whatever other drug store shampoo you used to use — except it’s plastic free and is full of awesome ingredients!

FIVE // Menstrual cups: Lunette

My Lunette menstrual cup is not dirty in this photo; it’s just stained.

One of the best zero-waste switches I’ve made is using a menstrual cup. I go into detail about why menstrual cups are awesome and why I think the Lunette is the best on a previous blog post. Check out that link here.

They’re a little awkward to get used to, but after your second or third period while using a menstrual cup, it feels completely normal. There’s a learning curve — just like there was when you were a pre-teen learning how to use a tampon for the first time. Once you get used to it, it just becomes second nature.

SIX // Bamboo toothbrush: Brush With Bamboo

This is not a Brush With Bamboo toothbrush. In fact, it actually came in plastic packaging. But I really needed a new toothbrush so I opted for this one rather than a plastic one. I highly recommend Brush With Bamboo!

The toothbrush in the photo above isn’t actually a Brush With Bamboo toothbrush. In fact, confession: it came in plastic packaging. But I really needed a new toothbrush and this is what my local store had, so I opted for this one rather than a plastic one. Hey I’m not perfect, fam lol :P.

But I typically use a Brush With Bamboo toothbrush and I love it! The handle is compostable and made from bamboo, which is a pretty sustainable alternative to plastic. The bristles are made of BPA-free plastic. I just learned that TerraCycle has a toothbrush head recycling program — so I want to look into that for my heads!

Brush With Bamboo is an awesome, family-owned company. Check out my review here for why I love them.

SEVEN // Concealer: RMS Beauty, Elate Cosmetics and Hynt Beauty

Hynt Beauty’s concealer

Finding certain makeup products in low- or zero-waste packaging can be difficult. But finding sustainably packaged concealer that works really, really well has actually been surprisingly easy.

The first zero-waste makeup product I tried was RMS Beauty’s un cover-up concealer. It’s beloved by eco-friendly makeup gurus and traditional makeup artists alike. It works as a concealer or a foundation. It’s made with coconut oil and feels like such a luxury product. It comes in a glass jar with a metal lid.

Similarly, Hynt Beauty’s concealer is packaged almost identically to RMS’s and has a similar formula, too. It’s pictured in the photo above. Elate’s concealer comes in a refillable container that can fit in my compact, so I don’t have to worry about excess packaging. And Elate’s concealer works really well, too! In fact, I just reordered some of their concealer (and other products… but I’m hoping to write a review on that in the next few weeks).

If I had to choose one, I’d go with RMS. But I like Hynt and Elate’s almost just as much.

EIGHT // Second-hand items: For most things

OK, so this isn’t a product, but I wanted to emphasize how much I’ve enjoyed second-hand shopping the last two years. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it’s fun! I’ve recently been watching some YouTube channels of folks who go to second-hand stores and make DIYs from all sorts of miscellaneous finds. Check out LoneFox and XO, Macenna on YouTube! (Note: Not all of their DIYs are sustainable or inexpensive… but they give you a good starting point to see how you can find really inexpensive, second-hand options and make them into something totally unique!)

If you can afford more expensive, eco-friendly items, I’d recommend investing in those products more than second-hand items. (Voting with your wallet is super important!) But for those of us who can’t afford certain zero-waste/sustainable brands, second-hand is a great alternative.

NINE // Phone cases: Pela

I recently wrote a blog post all about Pela phone cases, check that out here.

I could go on and on about why I love Pela so much, but I’d recommend you just read my blog post above. Basically Pela is a zero-waste phone case brand that also has the first zero-waste screen protector. And both the cases and the screen protectors work WONDERFULLY.

The cases are compostable and come in tons of trendy colors and designs. I have the yellow beehive case and I love it. It does get easily dirty, however. If I were getting another case, I’d opt for a darker color next time. Especially because I wear black jeans almost everyday and keep my phone in my back pocket. But Pela does give that disclaimer in their FAQ section, warning that lighter colored cases and dark jeans/putting your phone in your dark jean pocket can discolor your case.

Pela is worth every penny, though the cases aren’t cheap. Prices range from $30-$45. But these cases aren’t designed to be used for a few months and then tossed to the side. They’re meant to last and at the end of their life, be composted.

TEN // Coffee essentials: French press

I’m a big coffee drinker, and when I was living at my parent’s I used their Keurig. A lot of people have Keurig’s and swear by them. I don’t have a problem with Keurig’s… but I don’t like the idea of the amount of plastic folks typically go through when using a Keurig. If you have a Keurig, I’d recommend getting reusable pods that you can fill up with your favorite coffee! Or I believe they have compostable pods, too.

If you’re in the market for a new coffee machine, consider a French press. It makes only a couple cups of coffee at a time, but the coffee is smooth, rich and super flavorful. And, there’s no waste. Don’t forget to compost your coffee grounds if you’re able to compost!

Let me know some zero-waste staples/tried and true products you can’t live without!