Everyone has their "essential" items for living a zero waste life. This doesn't mean that they would be essential for everyone, just that I would struggle without them. Your essentials should be tailored to your everyday life to make them serve you best.
- Keepcup - I have a longplay keepcup and I love it. I fill it up every day at home before work and then reuse that throughout the day for my tea. It's great for hot or cold drinks, but I think it's great for keeping my tea warm. Also many coffee shops offer a discount for using a reusable cup.
- Tea filter - We use loose leaf tea to avoid the waste of tea bags which usually contain plastic so cannot be composted. To make the switch easy we have lots of tea filters that just sit in your mug and make the process really simple.
- A reusable water bottle - Mine is a non-insulated metal bottle and it goes everywhere with me. Plastic bottles of water are such a waste when you can just fill your own bottle up from a tap. Saves you money too!
- Food containers - I bring lunch to work with me every day so I need something to store it in. I personally use glass tupperware as I like my food piping hot, but to start with any container will do. Bringing your own food is a great way to avoid the packaging from buying food and again it saves you a lot of money.
- Cutlery - It doesn't matter what it is made from as long as it's something you can use again and again. My husband gifted me a set of bamboo ToGo ware cutlery but honestly any cutlery from your kitchen will work just as well.
- Reusable bags - They do not need to be anything special, they can be the free tote bag you got at that conference three years ago, but as long as they stop you needing to get plastic disposable bags then they're perfect.
- Sanitary items - As a person who bleeds I find sanitary items pretty essential. Whether you use a cup, reusable pads or period underwear, avoiding the waste from disposable products makes a difference when you consider all the years you will have periods for... (Sorry).
- Soap bars (including shampoo bars) - Let's be honest, you're going to need something to wash with and most products come in plastic bottles so invest in some solid soap and shampoo bars. If you're lucky you may only need one bar and it will work for your hair also.
- Bamboo toothbrush - Similarly, we need to clean our teeth and if we need to change brushes a couple of times a year then we don't want plastic toothbrushes that will exist forever. Although most have synthetic bristles, the majority is bamboo and will compost down nicely.
- Compost - Given that I've mentioned composting twice already, compost has to come on this list. I have a compost bin, but a food collection service or a local composting scheme also works. Just somewhere to put organic waste without it ending up in landfill.
And an extra one that is definitely not an essential but I love... My stainless steel razor. Shaving is not essential but if you're someone who does shave, then think about investing in a metal razor. It lasts for life and will save you so much money over the years that it will last for.