Zero waste products are resources that do not constitute damage to the environment and can be recycled during or after use. The extreme opposite of a zero-waste product would, thus, be one that you can only use once and cannot be recycled or disposed of properly.
Such products end up constituting nuisance in landfills and facilitating environmental ills. Examples of these are plastic bottles and other single-use plastic produce bags.
That’s not to say that we will be abandoning plastic bags anytime soon; our dependence on these bags is well documented. This realization is one of the reasons a zero-waste lifestyle isn’t a possibility yet.
The modern world would need to undergo changes and vast developments in how they manufacture, package, distribute, consume and dispose of waste (mainly plastic waste) if a zero-waste lifestyle becomes the norm.
You can do your bit by incorporating a zero-waste lifestyle. So, if you want to know how to make zero-waste products at home, then this article is for you!
What zero-waste products can I make at home?
We have established that a completely waste-free existence isn’t feasible for now. However, some products can help reduce waste generation. Unfortunately, most of these products might come across as expensive. This is why eco-conscious individuals take a DIY approach to sustainable living.
The approach prioritizes recycling certain materials within homes and the home-production of your cleaning agents and other household products. Below are some Zero waste DIY ideas and products you can adopt in your home:
DIY Twine sponges
You would use natural twine here to replace conventional sponges made from plastics. This twine is biodegradable thanks to its nature and can be made if you have knitting or basic sewing skills.
DIY Snack and grocery bags
These zero-waste bags can be made from paper or cloth. In the case of cloth, you would need discarded fabric and sewing skills to make it work. But, on the other hand, you can use old magazines, newspapers, and glue to make paper bags.
Provided the cloth is a natural fabric, it would be degradable, and the paper bags can be composted. Both types of bags can be used to pack up snacks for kids or go grocery shopping, depending on their size. They are a sustainable alternative to plastic wraps and plastic grocery bags, respectively.
DIY Wash towels
Instead of depending on toilet paper, making wash towels are a good way of reducing waste. Those used in the toilet would vary from those used in the kitchen and other rooms. They can also replace paper towels, thus, helping reduce your waste.
All you’d need to make these towels happen is the right texture fabric and some sewing skills.
DIY Garbage bags
Every household needs these bags to dispose of waste, yet the bags themselves are waste. Rather than adding to your waste output by using plastic waste bags, you can save money and reduce waste by making reusable garbage/waste bags.
Once full, these bags can be emptied into a trash can and washed for use on another day. Your zero-waste lifestyle journey would be helped significantly if you had multiple such bags.
DIY Reusable bowl covers
The average American family uses many bowls to store food and snacks for refrigeration. The good news is they don’t throw away food scraps indiscriminately; the bad news is that the bowls used are mostly plastic containers.
Even when a glass jar or bowl is used, a plastic wrap/saran wrap is usually employed. It is time to consider replacing these covers with cloth covers.
DIY Laundry detergent and soaps
Cleaning agents and detergents are a significant source of toxic environmental waste, but the processes they support can’t be left unattended.
Some great alternatives to these agents involve producing your own cleaning products. These would reduce the toxicity of your cleaning to the environment.
DIY Zero waste party planning
It’s pretty easy to get carried away by a celebration or party. A theme of after-party experiences is the amount of waste accumulated. You can prevent this by taking a DIY zero-waste approach to party planning.
For starters, use magazines and old newspapers in place of gift wrap, reduce paper towels, encourage guests to bring their own napkins, reduce servings in plastic bottles, don’t package gifts in plastic baggies or plastic containers, etc.
You should also consider buying an eco-friendly gift to go with eco-friendly wrapping!
Also – consider using a more eco-friendly alternative to balloons.
The last point above isn’t a product, but it is a collection of ideas that would make a big difference in how much waste you produce when you throw a party. That said, the products that are described here can be characterized in two phrases; less waste and less plastic.
How To Make Zero-Waste Products
It’s one thing to have such great ideas on integrating DIY zero-waste products into your daily life, but it’s another to make and use them.
Though all of them rarely require materials that are difficult to source for, guidance helps to smoothen this part of your transformational waste journey. The following brief descriptions should provide the guidance you may need:
The twine is the major material here, and you can either tie them together or knit them. There’s also the option to include a pop-up sponge within the twine covering or leave it empty.
Snack and grocery bags
Snack bags can be sewn into small square shapes, while the grocery bags can be made to be bigger and complete with handholds. This is for when the bags are made from cloth, though. When they are made from paper, you should use glue to hold the various paper parts together.
Grocery bags made in this way could also double as produce bags, especially if the material is mesh-like and translucent enough to allow air and light.
These can be made from old clothes and T-shirts. They will be coming in contact with skin, so it would make sense for the materials used to be soft.
You could cut them in strips or little squares as you see fit and hem them at the edges to hide loose threads. The hemming helps them last longer.
DIY garbage bags can be made from cloth. Old T-shirts can be hemmed at the waist to close them and expanded at the top.
You can then use them to line trash cans instead of the common one-time plastic garbage bags.
These cloth waste bags are eco-friendlier as they can be washed and reused after every use.
Reusable bowl covers
It is most advisable to make these from cloth, preferably cotton or linen. You could use such materials with a linen band to hold them in place around the bowl.
Alternatively, you could hem the elastic band in at the edges of the cloth to make a permanent cloth cover for your bowls.
Laundry detergent and soap
This hack keeps you and your clothes clean while saving the environment from a cocktail of toxic waste.
You can make DIY detergents from borax, washing soda, homemade soap bars, etc. In the same vein, homemade stain removers can also be produced using vinegar, baking soda, water, etc. These represent great additions to your DIY zero-waste products in many ways.
For example, you can add essential oil or two to provide fragrance. Be sure to test first to see if you or anyone else reacts to any essential oils.
Other Tips for a zero-waste lifestyle
Reducing your waste generation goes beyond physical waste alone to include carbon emissions from your energy use. That said, here are some zero-waste tips to keep your waste generation low:
- Turn off and unplug appliances that are not in use
- Make more of your own products
- Compost your food waste, including veggies, fruit peels, etc. if you have a garden
- Convert old clothes to cloth rags or give them out to thrift stores
- Use less plastic
There’s not much more to be said. Adopt our advice to your daily routine and chores, research some more zero-waste approaches and keep living a cleaner life.
Ciao, and good luck!