Ultimate No-Waste Shopping Guide

Your one stop list for all things zero waste.

So, in my endeavors online and about the world looking to go zero waste and looking for help along the way, for some reason, I have yet to find any sort of shopping or gathering list for the things you need to go zero waste. Sure, there’s a lot of tips and tricks out there, but I wanted to have something I could use as easy reference as I go about my journey. So, I made this list to perhaps help you out on your own journey to producing less and less trash.

The more things on this list that you can get second hand the better. But, who wants second hand toilet paper?

Must Haves

These are your must have items that I find are also the easiest to get a hold of.

  • Stainless steel or glass water bottle.
    • I can’t believe the amount of plastic water bottles people throw away each and every minute of everyday. Just reuse a glass or stainless steel one. You could at least reuse a plastic one or at the very least recycle your crappy excuse for hydration. As a singer, I tend to drink a near extraneous amount of water so I like the big ones. But, bear in mind the glass one’s can be a bit on the heavy side when full.
      • For stainless steel I recommend Kleen Kanteen.
      • For glass I recommend Bormioli Rocco.
  • Cloth or Canvas bags
    • Don’t · Use · Plastic · Shopping · Bags. It’s not that hard.
    • I really love organic cotton bags for my stuff, but they’re not always that affordable. Just get whatever you can afford, but here are my tips:
      • Learn to sew and make your own bags.
      • Use a pillow case that I’m assuming you already have.
      • Most stores will sell canvas or reusable bags, but you’re never really sure how sustainably they’re made, and in my experience most either contain plastic or are not that durable.
      • If you want, splurge on a nice organic, cute, cotton bag like this one.
      • Otherwise, check craigslist or better yet, yard sales.
      • Grow your collection of bags over time.
  • Mason Jars
    • As a child of the Southern United States, I knew what a mason jar was before I knew what colors were which, but if you don’t know, a mason jar is just a glass jar that is typically used to preserve foods. But, for the zero waste enthusiast, a mason jar is a wide mouth of possibilities. They’re great for storage of food, wet food, leftovers and other non food items like homemade bath products.
    • See if you can find your jars second hand on craigslist or from yard sales.
    • If you must, buy them from a store. Most sell them by the case, but see if you can get them individually. Recycle the packaging.
    • Get a variety of sizes from tiny 4 oz. jars all the way up to 1 gal. jars.

Shopping Supplies

When shopping, it can sometimes be difficult to find things zero waste. For tips on this, see my shopping guide or grocery tips. However what you take to the grocery store definitely can be.

  • Reusable cloth bags instead of plastic shopping bags. Seriously.
  • Smaller and easy to close bags (maybe with a zipper) for dry bulk items
  • Mason jars. Use these for things like: salt, sugar, spice, rice, and everything nice. You can also use them for wet things like fresh orange juice, ice cream, oil, nut butters, Oh! The list goes on….
  • Baskets. Baskets are like the most useful things to take shopping. It’s like a bag that doesn’t bend! They’re great for organizing things in your car or just shopping at the farmer’s market. Trust me. Buy like 5 or 6 baskets. They will not let you down. Just make sure your baskets are made out of a durable, plant fiber material, and not plastic. You can find this things everywhere. Like try Goodwill or like me, my local farm & garden store has loads of them as well as my farmer’s market. It’s like a skill that people have. People make baskets. Really. And, all this time I thought it was a robot.
  • Glass bottles if you want.
  • For grocery lists: If you haven’t given up your cell phone in the efforts to go zero waste, and I highly doubt you have. Use your cell phone for your shopping list. It’s not rocket science. But, if you don’t have a cell phone, think cell phones are weird to use, or are afraid of being accused of being a secret shopper. Use paper that’s been lying around. Use junkmail envelopes. If you have one, use your last shopping receipt. I don’t have those things. I use my phone. Arguably, if you really want to be zero waste and don’t want to use a device or paper. You could memorize your list. Or write it on your skin.

That’s about all you need to shop with.

General Household Supplies

For general household supplies you should be able to find a suitable replacement zero waste for most things.

  • Printer Paper: This one is made of Bagasse or sugar cane, which is abundant and sustainable as well as being biodegradable and compostable.

Personal & Hygiene Products

  • Bath Products
    • Soap & Body Wash: Replace with bulk, package free soap from your local health store or your local farmer’s market. Or, and this may be a bit tricky, make it yourself. Here’s my guide. I tend to go as simple as humanly possible with soaps, and having very dry sensitive skin, this has helped me. But, recently I have fallen in love with Savon de Marseille olive oil soap. But, since it is a product I have to order from the internet, I buy the largest size possible and just recycle the packaging.
    • Conditioner: This gets a little bit trickier. Yes, of course you can use God’s gift to the universe: coconut oil. But, I am a bit sensitive to oil, and I don’t really like coconut oil at all for anything *gasp*. Read here. Conditioner too, can be tricky for some people also because oil leaves your hair…oily. It’s best to see if you can buy it in bulk at your local health store and put it in a glass jar or bottle.
    • Lotion or moisturizers: You can make these yourself! Or, just use oil. I love jojoba oil.
    • Loofahs, sponges, bath poofs, etc. Replace them with organic cotton, durable, reusable, and hopefully, soft wash cloths. Anything that scrubs your body is not good to use on a daily basis. If you need to exfoliate you can make a simple body scrub. But, otherwise just use a washcloth or your hands. I really love these wash cloths. I like these. And, these. Recycle the packaging.
    • Towels: Just use your towels. What are you drying yourself with loads of paper towels? You want a recommendation? Okay fine, these are nice I guess, but expensive.
  • Skincare
    • Be good to your skin.
    • Facial cleanser: Just use your bulk soap. If it is good soap it should work for your face wash as well. However if you are particularly acne prone, and use a specific wash, see if you can get it in bulk OR make something similar yourself.
    • Toner: Bulk pure witch hazel with no alcohol or diluted raw apple cider vinegar is the simplest. You can also make toner. Check out my recipes.
    • Moisturizer: Get it in bulk. Or make it yourself. If neither of these options are appealing to you, you can always use oil. I like organic jojoba oil which I get in bulk.
    • Facial wipes or cotton balls. Replace with reusable cotton pads.
  • Toilet Paper. You can use this toilet paper which is made from bagasse and is 100% tree free. Typical 100% recycled toilet paper is okay. But, it also usually contains BPA. This toilet paper, on the other hand, is 100% BPA, tree, and chlorine free and is biodegradable.
For those who have a period:

I do not have a period. So, I will direct you over to this post from our friend and no waste guru Lauren for more info.

General Household Supplies


General Household Supplies