Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Today I am going to share with you my top 5 DIY Zero Waste Swaps that I create in the comfort of my own home. These swaps have saved our family tons of money, they are super simple and effective, and can even be turned into gorgeous gifts for birthday/holiday season. Yay for Zero Waste and DIY!
If you are new to the zero waste lifestyle, I want to make one thing clear. Do NOT throw any of your used/abused/torn/ragged items out until you have checked in with the zero waste community first. There may be some amazing DIY crafts that you can do with these so-called “trash” items. Ragged old towels, stained/worn clothes, broken reusable bottles, old Tupperware, etc. The longer we can keep these out of the landfill, the better. So let's get to crafting and creating some zero waste swaps!
Table of contents
- Homemade Cleaning Solutions
- Homemade Hankies and Wipes
- Jars, Jars, Jars!
- Homemade Face Cleansers
- The Orphan Socks
- Looking for more?
Homemade Cleaning Solutions
I grew up hating the smell of vinegar. My father had a bottle that he loved to keep in the bathroom to wipe down the cabinets and bath tub every week or so. The smell would linger for days and it hurt my little nostrils. Later, when I was much older, I was hesitant to ever use vinegar as a cleaning solution.
That is until I found the infusion method. Here is how it works: Fill a large glass jar with a tight seal about 85% full (I love this size here) with white distilled vinegar. Peel 2 large lemons and toss the peels into the jar. Grab a handful of fresh rosemary and toss that in next. Feel free to add in extra citrus peels (orange/lime) and herbs (lavender is heavenly) and then tightly seal. Let sit in your pantry or a cool/dark place for 6 weeks.
Voila, Infused Vinegar!
Take a spray bottle (I love these) and fill half way with the strained infused vinegar and half distilled water. If you wish, you can also add some 60-70% proof alcohol (like rubbing alcohol) as well for the disinfectant power. Shake and use as you would a general cleaner. I love to use the vinegar and water mixture for cleaning windows, the kitchen, floors, and the like.
If using alcohol, I add 1 part of each: 1 part alcohol, 1 part vinegar, and 1 part water. Many like to add 2 parts alcohol, 2 parts water, and 1 part vinegar or less. Do as you wish!
Keep the already infused vinegar in the pantry, sealed, until ready to refill your spray bottles again.
So, what about the baking soda? For any hard to clean surfaces, simply shake some baking soda over it and then spray the vinegar infusion. The combined power will cause bubbles and an epic cleaning machine!
Curious how to make your own white distilled vinegar? Check this post out here!
Homemade Hankies and Wipes
The options are really endless for this DIY zero waste swap. You can create your own hankies, cloth wipes, wet wipes, face wipes, and even toilet paper if you are up for it! All you need are those old raggedy clothes/towels that no longer serve their purpose.
I love mine to be a nice long rectangle. It's as easy and cutting the fabric into your shape! To avoid any fraying, you can easily sew the edges but I only do this for certain fabrics that are already on their very last leg. For the most part, just slicing and folding is all I need to do.
For cloth wipes/wet wipes:
I love to use the babies old blankets/old clothes for these. Soft and perfect for wiping them clean! Simply slice into small squares and store into a reusable bag. If you want wet wipes, you can grab a mason jar and fill with water and a tsp of coconut oil. Add the small squares to the mason jar and use as you would wet wipes! For on the go wet wipes, pull out a handful of the squares, squeeze gently, and then place into a reusable bag (like these here). To wash, simply toss into the washing machine as you would soiled towels. Be sure to replace the water and coconut oil every second day.
For face wipes:
I like to use two types of fabrics for this! One super soft fabric like an old baby blanket and another semi-rough fabric for a light exfoliation. Slice into small squares. These are fantastic for oil cleansing.
Jars, Jars, Jars!
It may drive Martin a bit crazy, but we have NEVER had traditional drinking glasses. We drink from old jars!
As a woman who loves to DIY just about everything…I have to say that I have my fair share of glass jars! We save each and every one and use them for drinking glasses, overnight oats glasses, dessert glasses, DIY beauty recipes, and tons of prepping needs. I cannot recommend saving your glasses enough! It's like…free stuff! haha.
Every Sunday I start off my meal prep by blending up 3 sauces/dressings for dipping and drizzling. My glass jars are the perfect companions for this and I have them in almost every size, so it's always a perfect fit! We keep the large ones (think sauerkraut or pasta sauce) for drinking, keep the small ones for baby sized drinks, and the rest is used for everything in between. I do recommend storing the lids in a reusable bag somewhere that's convenient – they are a pain in the butt for the junk drawer!
Homemade Face Cleansers
There are a few different ways to go about cleansing your face in the zero waste/low waste realm. You could go with Martin's routine of using warm water and a light exfoliating cloth wipe (his skin is fabulous by the way), you could go with a sudsing clean via Castile soap, a muddy clean via bentonite clay, or an oil cleansing clean via my current favorite recipe! I'll be sharing each one of these zero waste swaps with you today.
Warm Water and an exfoliating cloth wipe:
This is where your raggedy old towels and clothes come in! You need a light exfoliating cloth (Martin uses the babies old bath towel cut into squares) and warm water. If he is extra dirty, he will use some coconut oil as well.
The Castile Soap Solution:
For this you will need some Castile soap and water. Essential oils are a great addition (I enjoy lavender and frankincense). I used this face wash for the first year on our journey and it was lovely! However, my skin let me know (yes, she speaks to me in her own way) that she needed something much more nourishing as I got older. If you want to try this cleanse out, mix together 8 oz water with 8 oz liquid Castile soap. If you wish to add the essential oils, add in 15 drops of each lavender and frankincense! Feel this recipe out and then add more water as needed until it reaches your desired feeling.
Bentonite Clay Cleanse:
Even though I am strictly and oil cleanser now (see below), I still use my bentonite clay once a week to deep clean. I highly recommend it! Simply add 2 tsp (using a non metal spoon) of bentonite clay to the palm of your hand followed by 2 tsp of water. Mix and then rub into your face very well. I like to let it sit for a few minutes and then wash off with luke warm water. Pat dry and follow up with a face oil or moisturizer.
My Oil Cleanser:
First, you want to choose your base. My research recommends sunflower oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, hemp oil or grapeseed oil. You can mix and match to your liking. I personally use straight jojoba oil and then I add lavender and frankincense essential oils directly to the bottle with a dropper. I pick up my jojoba oil from our local farmers market every 6-8 weeks or so for about 10 euros a bottle and bring back the empty bottle. So here is how I go about this: First, I add about a hefty tsp of oil to the palm of my hand and rub it into my face and neck. I like to massage my face for a solid minute or 2 and let the oil sit for an extra minute. I grab my face cloth, run hot water over it, and quickly wring it out. Next, I lay the warm cloth over my face and gently wipe my face. There should still be oil sitting on the face (a very light layer), so no need for an additional moisturiser!
The Orphan Socks
This idea is genius and I cannot take any credit for it. I owe all credit for this idea to our neighbour who has been doing this for years haha.
Take all of your old orphan socks and place them in a two jars: One for the large socks and the second for the smaller. The large socks are fantastic to use as dusters and many will even fit the a dusting mop (think swiffer!). The first time I saw her dust mop with the orphan sock, I fell in love.
The small socks are fantastic for SO many things. Crafts, halloween costumes, homemade dolls, bath soaks (add oatmeal to a sock, tie and drop into a bathtub!), ice compressor covers (fill with some peas, ice or whatnot when someone has a boo-boo), and so much more. Keep those socks!
I truly hope these 5 simple zero waste swap ideas helped you to look at zero waste a bit more enthusiastically! I promise, it is such a fun and creative way to live.