My favorite tools for living less wastefully / by Annie Hall

To live less wastefully you do NOT have to go out and buy new things. However, as I started to get into the Zero Waste world I realized that I was missing some items that would help me navigate life without using disposables or single use plastics. I feel there is a good balance between buying new items that inspire you to live better, and using items you already have around your house. Also, some items might seem more expensive up front, but the idea is that they will hopefully last a lifetime, or at least a long time! These are some of the items that have helped me as I start to live with a more Zero Waste mentality. If you click on the images below it will take you to the product site. I do not receive any kickback or commission for any of these products, just love them! There are so many more amazing products to highlight but these are my top 10 go-tos at the moment.


1. Stasher Bags

These bad boys were one of my first loves. Woman owned company too. They replace plastic bags (Ziploc bags) and are available via their website, Amazon, and the Container Store. I use them to store everything from food, to toiletries during travel. They can also be used to marinate, Sous Vide, steam, and even microwave. These ROCK!

2. Reusable Grocery Bags

An essential! Obviously any bag will do and you likely have several laying around the house. I have a few Baggu bags and I think their prints are so fun and they are always the first ones I grab. I keep at least one of these in my work bag or purse when I’m out and about in case I need to grab something. Also, you CAN remember your bags when you go into the grocery store, I believe in you.

3. Beeswax Wraps

There are a few different brands of these but I’m excited to support one of my friends (Sophie) and her small business. She uses recycled textiles to make these awesome food wraps. These can be used to cover cans, wrap onions, avocados, or cheese, and some are even large enough to cover bread or casserole dishes. These replace plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil. Sophie even explains on her website how to refresh the wraps if their grippieness starts to fade. If you’re new to these- you may need to warm them with your hands to mold them to whatever you’re using them to cover.

4. To-go silverware

You could easily bring regular silverware from home to serve this purpose. I got these on sale at a local grocery store and keep them in my work bag and have used them countless times. They are lightweight and easy to clean. It’s always surprising to me how many restaurants in the city have plastic silverware options ONLY- even when you are eating in. This was a great buy for me as I used them all the time.

5. Reusable straw

To be honest, I don’t really use straws all that much but in the summer I definitely find a use for them for smoothies and iced tea or coffee. To me, the reusable straw is one of the easiest things to carry around because it’s so small and light. I like these Simply Straws glass straws because they don’t seem to make things taste metallic as stainless steel straws can do, and they are super chic. Totally optional item but I do love them. Also, if you get the To-go ware silverware some of their sets have a Simply Straw glass straw included! Also, they are a little easier to clean because you can see any gunk caught inside.

6. To-go vessel

A no-brainer! Hot things, cold things, even oatmeal if you want. I love the price of these and the size options, and that they come with a stainless straw. Healthy Human has great options for both water bottles and coffee/tea tumblrs. LOVE. You could also use a mason jar in lou of this, keep in mind mason jars aren’t insulated though.

7. Menstrual Cup by Dot

Let’s start by saying that I’m obsessed with Menstrual cups. I think they are one of the coolest inventions and have been using them for the last 2+ years. Dot is an amazing woman owned company based here in Chicago, the cup is made in Wisconsin, and with every purchase they donate a cup to a woman in need. OH and it comes with this super cute case. Any brand of menstrual cup will save thousands of tampons/pads throughout a lifetime, which normally sit in landfills and take a LONG time to degrade. Check out this article for some interesting info.

8. Safety razor

This was a hard one for me to get on board with at first. I was scared of how to use it and that I would cut myself all the time, but this was actually an easy transition. There are many brands of safety razors (check Amazon), and the razors are very inexpensive. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my lack of razor-burn and ingrown hairs since switching to a safety razor.

9. Pela Case*

This iPhone case is compostable and shipped without ANY plastic packaging. I’m so glad to finally say “no” to cases that are made of plastic and are packaged in plastic. They have a ton of fun colors and I am happy that I can add this to my compost bin if I ever get a different phone and need to get a new Pela case. *This definitely isn’t a Zero Waste necessity but I consider it a BETTER option than other phone cases on the market.

10. Produce bags

Mesh bags, or simple cotton bags. I don’t go grocery shopping or to the farmers market without these. Not only can they be used when shopping produce at the grocery store/market, but they can be used when you’re buying a cookie, muffin, scone, etc. when you’re out and want to save a disposable sleeve. This is another easy one to store inside your reusable grocery bags and have them with you when you’re shopping.