Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Easy Low- and Zero-Waste Alternatives to Your Everyday Items

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Living sustainably is something that’s really important to me, and low-waste is something I’ve been slowly moving toward in the past year. Obviously, living a perfect zero-waste lifestyle in today’s society is next to impossible. But you don’t need to be perfect to make a difference! If everyone on Earth reduced their waste production, even by a little bit, it would make a huge difference overall. Waste (especially plastics) ends up in oceans or landfills, which harms marine life and contributes to climate change. 


Grocery shopping produces more waste than you think. Plastic fruit bags, styrofoam packaging, and other grocery store packaging all contribute to landfills. If you live in Ottawa, you may not have heard of Nu Grocery before. Nu Grocery is a zero-waste grocery store with two locations; one is in Westboro, at 1130 Wellington St. W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 1P1, and the other is near Springhurst Park at 143 Main St, Ottawa, ON K1S 5V9. These two locations carry groceries and household items like toothpaste tablets. All you need to do to shop here is bring reusable containers for your items! If you don’t have any containers, you can borrow some from the store.

Beauty products

Switching to reusable cotton rounds will save lots of cotton from being thrown out during your skincare routine! They’re easy to use, easy to wash, and better for the environment. I also love LUSH products–like their soaps, bath bombs, and bubble bars–because so many of them are zero-waste. The company also uses 100% recycled materials, and even their packing peanuts are biodegradable! I don’t really wear makeup often but I recognize that finding good zero-waste options for makeup is hard. My advice in this case would be to just avoid buying an excess of products you don’t need!

Personal care products

It can be hard to fully switch to zero-waste options for personal hygiene products because a lot of the options, especially with haircare and skincare, just don’t work as well. That being said, bamboo toothbrushes are an amazing alternative to plastic toothbrushes, and they work just as well. Don’t throw out your plastic toothbrush right away, but consider making the switch when it comes time for you to buy a new one. I also like to use bar soap instead of body wash.

Kitchen accessories

This might be a no-brainer, but plastic water bottles are extremely wasteful. An easy alternative is to use reusable water bottles. I also like to save my glass jars and glass bottles and fill them with water to bring with me to school! Stainless steel straws are also an easy item to carry in your purse or backpack if you like drinking from a straw. If you like to bake, you probably use a lot of parchment and aluminum foil. In my household, we use silicone baking mats and cupcake liners. These work just as well as parchment/aluminum foil, are non-stick, and can be reused for many years! 

The idea of zero-waste is daunting for sure, but it’s important to remember that no one expects you to be perfect! For the sake of transparency, I’ll admit that most of my beauty and personal care products aren’t zero-waste. I used to be so caught up in the idea of ‘all or nothing’, but that mindset is overwhelming and frankly, unhelpful. So now, I just do the best I can to make environmentally conscious decisions. Whether it’s making coffee at home instead of buying an iced coffee in a plastic cup from Starbucks, or buying from local businesses instead of ordering online, we can all do little things to reduce our waste. So next time you find yourself shopping for a new toothbrush, or you run out of body wash, consider a low-waste alternative!