My top 10 Zero Waste product and lifestyle swaps to replace single use items and unsustainable habits.

Essential Oils

If you goal is to get as close as you can to Zero Waste then becoming acquainted with essential oils is a must.  I use essential oils daily in the products I make, from: strengthening our toothpaste and sunscreen to giving fragrance to our dryer balls and household cleaner – Essential oils are a godsend to any DIY’er or Zero Waste’er.

Understanding how to properly use essential oils ain’t no joke.

I highly recommend scouting out a local shop with knowledgeable staff that can guide you in all your DIY recipe adventures.

Two of my favourite places to find essential oils are:

Nezza Naturals in Victoria, British Columbia and,

Anarres Apothecary in Toronto, Ontario

Both shops offer online sales, discounts for refills, and staff is well educated in how to properly use essential oils.

Reusable Bags

I use my reusable bags for produce, bulk and making nut milk. They are easily in my TOP 5 favourite purchases since going Zero Waste.

For the first 18 months I washed and reused my plastic bags , but when they started sprouting leaks I knew it was time to invest in a better option. There are many options for reusable bulk bags out there: muslin, hemp, cotton and lycra mesh versions like the ones pictured in the image.

Personally I use Carebags, they are a multi-purpose Canadian brand that holds up to 11 lbs and lasts up to 2o years – think of all the single-use plastic bags you are no longer using! Cashiers can easily see the product and read codes through the mesh and there is no problem if the bags get damp in the fridge crisper.

Cloth Napkins

Stop saving cloth napkins for guests! Using cloth napkins is a simple swap that costs nothing – in fact it will save you money.

A tip from my family to yours!

We own a plethora of coloured napkins and at the beginning of each week we each are assigned (a job fought over by the small humans in our household) a different coloured napkin to use. This way we each know whose napkin is whose and we reuse them throughout the week until they need laundering.


Seriously, whenever I write or say this brand name out loud I am nostalgic for my childhood and can think of nothing other than my brother’s Batman comic collection.

“Pow, Blam, KA-POW!”

Sorry – too easy to get carried away! Cuppow canning jar lids are easily one of my favourite and most used items. I used the lids on 250 ml mason jars to turn them into toddler sippy cups, I use them to turn my mason jar into travel mug or to transport my smoothie or water on the go. No need to invest in reusable water bottles and travel mugs – just invest in a Cuppow lid that will transform you mason jar collection!

Cloth Diapers

Making the switch to cloth diapers is not as difficult as we make it out to be. As I get older I am realizing that human nature is to over-think, stress-out and create obstacles where there aren’t any.

Ninety-nine percent of the time when I look back, at something I had to mentally “work up to” I think to myself, “wow, that wasn’t as complicated as I thought it was going to be.

PROS: save money | no hidden chemicals | no late night diaper runs | potty training will happen sooner |less frequent diaper blow outs.

CONS: an extra load of laundry each week | high initial investment | carting home a soiled diapers if you’re out.

Whatever the pros and cons there are options to mitigate. We purchased a hose attachment for our toilet to spray off dirty diapers before putting them into the diaper bin. You can also purchase leak proof wet bags to take with you on outings and a wet bag to line your laundry bin – toss the bag along with the diapers directly into the wash. Finally there is no rule stating that if you use cloth diapers that you can never use disposable ones. We used disposable diapers at night because keeping bums dry  = better sleep = better parents!

Menstrual Cup

So we go from diapers to menstrual cups – seems a natural segue.

I kid you not, the menstrual cup is LIFE CHANGING. 

I have said this many times before and I will continue to praise the almighty good work of the Diva Cup. This is my single favourite switch since going Zero Waste.

A short, yet comprehensive list of the benefits of choosing a reusable menstrual cup over disposable menstrual products: save money, with proper care a menstrual cup can last up to 10 years | save time, the Diva Cup only needs to be emptied every 12 hours | less unnecessary leakage | reduce exposure to toxins | sleep in ANY position you want.

Farmers Markets

If you are lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood that boasts a farmers market, take the time to check it out.

Farmers markets are about so much more than local produce, although that in itself is awesome!  Farmers market provide the opportunity to engage with your community, support your local economy, find unpackaged produce, all while enjoying live music, prepared foods and entertainment.

When we lived in Victoria our family viewed our weekly farmers market trip as a fun family outing. We brought our picnic set to purchase dinner from a local food truck and enjoyed it in the park, with friends, listening to live jazz music while our children danced and played.

A welcome alternative to the grocery store grind.

Skoy Kitchen Srubbers

One of my favourite switches are from kitchen sponge to Skoy scrubbers.

Dish scrub cloths are not even slightly sexy – but Skoy scrubbers are cute and they work fantastically well!

These scrubbers are made of cotton and a food grade, non-toxic hardener so they are 100% compostable. What is even better is that they last for months, after cleaning my pots and pans for the better part of six months my scrubber receive a second life cleaning bathroom sinks and toilets – How Exciting!

Woody 3 in 1 Pencils

Wax Crayon | Water Colour | Coloured Pencil

These pencils are one of our latest swaps. My kids are at the age where they love drawing and I wanted to find a product that could take the place of felt pens and traditional crayons.

The Woody Pencils are FAST becoming one of my favourite swaps.

Their chubby design makes them easy to hold and difficult to break. The colours are vibrant and modern and with a damp paint brush they easily turn any picture into a water colour masterpiece.

They Draw on:

Cardboard | Windows | Glass |  Dark Surfaces |  Blackboards | Metal | Paper

Making them a multi purpose tool for any Zero Waste household.

Made with 100% PEFC certified wood. PEFC guarantees that the wood products used come from sustainably managed forests.

Bokashi Kitchen Composter

If you do not have access to municipal compost programs or if your thumb is more brown than green, you need to learn about bokashi composting.

Fast, Easy, Pest-Free composting solution for ALL your food waste.

Yup that’s right, transform ALL food scraps: cooked foods, dairy, meat, grains, pasta, fruits and veggies into garden ready compost in 4-6 weeks.

I am all for easy and that is why bokashi composting spoke to me – that and my garden needs all the help it can get! Diverting organic matter from landfill and turning into nutrient rich soil for growing you own food is winning in my books!

If you want to visit Bokashi Living’s website to learn more click here Bokashi Composter

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Along with my favourite habit and product swaps I share one of my favourite quotes, this one is by Margret Meed. I think it is relevant in so many aspects of our lives today. Yes, the climate crisis is a massive problem, but too often we let ourselves off the hook believing that only massive solutions, enforced by governments, will fix the problem. Instead, we need to look inward, hold ourselves accountable for how we choose to move through the world and lead by example. The results will be greater happiness, health and future.

For anyone interested in learning more about or purchase any of products in the blog you can do so by clicking on the botton PAREdown Store