Living a zero waste lifestyle can certainly sound intimidating and expensive, but you might not realize how much money you can actually save! I am going to share with you some ways you can save a TON of money by reducing your waste.
You can probably already guess the first tip I am going to share with you, which is to use to what you already have! I STILL live by this rule, and honestly, I always will. This is the single best way to significantly save on your budget. Just think about it, how many things do you throw away that might have a second life to it? Take out containers can be reused for food storage or storage for your junk drawer. Half-filled notebooks? Those can be used for making to-do and grocery shopping lists. Even food scraps! I know how many times I’ve bought expensive compost from the local plant store in the past until I realized I can make my own for free!! So many items are mindlessly thrown away without outing much thought into how it can be reused or repurposed, it’s time to start qualifying what is really trash and what items have more life to it.
Okay, let’s talk money. Let’s get into the real money savers.
Water bottles. If you know me, you know that staying hydrated is something I consider pretty important in my life. I drink between 80 oz and 100 oz of water a day, so if I was buying plastic water bottles, that would cost me almost $4.00 a day. Doesn’t seem like a deal breaker, right? Well, that $4 a day would mean, I would be spending $1,358 each year just on water. Even if you don’t drink that much water, it still adds up to a TON of money. The average American drinks 700 bottles of water each year, equaling around $500 in plastic water bottles. The point that I am trying to make is plastic water bottles cost a lot of money, but when you think about it, isn’t it just the plastic you are paying for? If you buy a reusable water bottle for $30, you can fill it up at home and save hundreds, or even thousands on water! You'll also save all that plastic waste from entering our environment.
Where my coffee drinkers at?! Yeah, I’m talking to you, Dunkin and Starbucks lovers. Trust me, I was here too, until I realized how much money I could save. Have you ever heard of a KeepCup? This lowkey might be my favorite swap of all time because I honestly just love the way it looks. But it definitely offers much more than just it’s beautiful appearance, it saves me moneyyyy! Pre-Covid days, many coffee shops would reward customers for bringing in their own cups, they would typically discount the order by about 10 cents. Let’s do some quick math. If you brought your own cup for a year, you'd make $36 on just bringing your own cup, which would pay for the cup itself! If you treat yourself to two coffee’s a day, you would have paid for the cup by 6 months in, and would have made an additional $36 on just bringing it with you. I know what you are thinking, Mikaela, it IS Covid times, and my coffee shop won’t accept it. Well, well, well… It’s time to consider another alternative.
Have you ever considered making your own coffee at home? By brewing your own, you’re saving about $2 per cup, according to Boneparth’s calculator. If you’re drinking two cups a day, that’s a savings of about $1,500 a year. The best part is, you can still support your local shops if you buy the beans from them! And you’re saving our environment from all of those non-recyclable coffee cups! It’s truly a win-win-WIN!
Next one I want to address is cleaners. And I have a few bones to pick with this one. In 2017, the average American family spent about $40 to $50 each month on cleaning supplies, roughly calculating to $600 a year. First of all, majority of these cleaners are filled with harmful toxins that are dangerous to us and the environment. On top of that, they usually come in plastic, and with only 9% of plastic being recycled, it doesn’t do any good to be sending more plastic to our landfills our already-polluted oceans. Did you know that you can make an equally as effective cleaner at home with ingredients that you already have? My favorite DIY is making all-purpose cleaner, and it is SO easy I make almost once a month. I take my citrus peels (orange or lemon, I’ve even tried grapefruit!) and I soak them in a jar of vinegar for about two weeks. Then, I strain out vinegar into a jar, cut it with water (about 1:1 ratio) and TA-DA! I have an all-purpose cleaner that smells like lemons instead of vinegar! Sometimes I’ll even throw a couple drops of essentials oils to really leave behind a fresh scent. This costs nothing because I typically already have white vinegar in the house, I reuse a glass spray bottle. And guess what? Nothing is sent to the landfill. And that $600 a year? That goes towards my vacation.
I haven’t bought paper towels in 3 years and I have saved hundreds of dollars. How do I live without paper towels, you ask? Well, I simply use our kitchen cloths and our Swedish Dish cloths, wash, reuse and repeat.
How much money can you really save? Let’s do the math. Most families go through 1-2 rolls a week. On average, that is about $182 dollars a year. Over the course of three year, that is about $540. That is a ton od dough to be spending on a towel we use for 5 seconds and throw in the trash, right? Chances are, we all have some kitchen towels in the house. Why don’t you try transitioning over to those solely? They are durable, can be washed and reused thousands of times, and if you already have them, then they aren’t costing you anything! I have used my kitchen cloth towels for years, and I recently started using Swedish Dish Cloths as well.
These are great because I use them to soak up spills and as a sponge, so it’s a multiuse product than can outlast 17 rolls of paper towels. Even if you didn’t have anything to use, buying a 3 pack of Swedish Dish cloths will last you over a year, and will cost $16 (compared to the $180).
Safety razors are an item that seems more expensive at first, but when you investigate the details – you learn that you can save so much in a year, and hundreds in a lifetime. A typical disposable razor with replaceable heads is about $10-$12, and a set of four refills is about another $10. Assuming you switch your blades out every two weeks (recommended by Gillette) you’ll spend about $75 on shaving each year, which is $750 after 10 years. That is substantial! The safety razor does come with a higher upfront cost, but when it only cost you about $8 dollars to refills for the whole year, based on the same amount of shaving, it’s a deal breaker. After ten years, you’ve only spent about $116. Would you rather spend $116 or $750? I know I would choose this one!
As I hope you can see, these changes are pretty simple steps you can take to reduce waste and clutter, and they actually save you money!