Before talking about all the products we can use for zero-waste house keeping, we have to start with the tools. No more plastic brooms or microfiber mops—it is time to get back to the ways of yesteryear and favor wooden tools with natural fiber bristles. For instance, wait until your plastic bucket breaks before replacing it, but when you do, try to replace it with a metal one.
Parisians have never lost the habit of shopping in local hardware stores for their household goods, and Les Drogueries D’Aujourd’hui is a new chain making the most of an old idea, offering wooden brushes with coconut fiber for everything from shining your shoes to scrubbing your sink. They also have oh-so-Parisian shopping carts that let you bring your groceries home without a bag.
Remember those pot holders you once wove for your mom as a class project? Without getting into a debate about why we were being taught to make kitchen supplies for our mothers, these squares of discarded tights are called tawashi in Japan and they are used as sponges. You can make your own, or buy loofah sponges at the Maison du Zéro Déchet. They also sell linen bowl covers to avoid using saran wrap in the fridge, but, to be honest, I have always found that stacking a plate on top of my bowls keeps things fresh.
Vacuum cleaners are not going to be zero-waste, and hopefully you won’t need one anytime soon, but when you do, Dyson makes some of the densest options on the Paris market and they don’t require bags.
A lot of the household cleaning products can be made at home, and in France, there are three key ingredients that make up the base for most DIY solutions:
1) Savon de Marseille
Easily found in large grocery stores, Savon de Marseille (Marseille soap) shavings by Marius Fabre have been around since the turn of the century and they’re an easy solution for washing laundry by hand, or in your washing machine.
2) White vinegar
It’s the perfect product for fighting hard water mineral deposits on your faucets and drains. When diluted, it will clean your mirrors and windows, and replace bleach in the toilet bowl and laundry softener.
3) Baking soda
This is a natural go-to cleaner in French homes. Slightly abrasive, it makes cleaning dishes a breeze and eats the odors in fridges, teenage boy sock drawers, and other stinky places.
If you can’t make your own, you can buy detergents and cleansers in bulk at stores like Day by Day. We recommend bringing your own containers to further reduce waste.
Available in most hardware stores, vegetal and beeswax can be found to treat your wood furniture and kitchenware. Just be sure to check that the products are natural and only use waxes meant for the kitchen on items that will be in direct contact with food. While there, ask for terre de Sommière, a natural clay that French men and women have been using to remove grease stains from clothing and leather goods for centuries. And if that doesn’t work, Fer à Cheval has stain treatment sticks available in the online shop, Hakuna Taka.
Les Drogueries d’Aujourd’hui – 54 rue Notre Dame des Champs, 75006 (and other locations in Paris)
La Maison du Zéro Déchet – 3 Rue Charles Nodier, 75018
Day by Day – 46 Rue des Moines, 75017
- Read more about where to buy in bulk in Paris.
- Check out the best ethical, sustainable and fair-trade shopping in Paris.
- For a comprehensive guide on zero-waste shopping in Paris, head to Paris To Go.
Written by Sylvia Sabes for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.