Inexpensive Ways to Reduce Your Waste

There’s a common misconception that living a low-waste lifestyle can put a hurtin’ on your wallet, but today I’m here to bust that myth. Since going low waste, I’ve actually SAVED money. Want to know how? Here are a few simple ways that you can save too.

Household Cleaning
This is hands downs the area where I was able to make the biggest impact on my waste and my savings. There are so many specialized cleaning products out there these days, but you would be surprised to know what you can do with some white vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap, and maybe some essential oils if you’re feeling fancy. Countertops, toilets, towels, windows/glass, floors… I’m telling you, I haven’t found anything that I’m not able to clean with these items. I’ve saved a ton of money by not having to buy a bunch of different cleaning products, many of which are mostly water and packaged in plastic.

In addition, I stopped buying paper towels years ago. You can use old t-shirts as rags, or just go to the dollar store and pick up some cheap hand towels. I keep a cute little basket of towels right next to my sink where my paper towel rack used to go.

Shop in Bulk
As with most products, it seems that a large part of the cost of our food items is the packaging it comes in. You can save some serious cash by buying many kitchen staples from the bulk bins at your grocery store (Sprouts in my personal favorite). Some examples of items I buy in bulk regularly are: rice, oats, popcorn, flour, protein powder, coffee, trail mix, nutritional yeast, tea, spices, nuts, etc. Bonus points for bringing your own bags or containers. Did you know that most stores will give you a bag credit? Winning!

A note about COVID: many stores have closed or made adjustments to their bulk bins since COVID started, but hopefully this will not be the case for too much longer.

Make It Homemade
I’m always surprised to learn how easy and cheap it is to make stuff at home. A couple of weeks ago, I was out of mayo but found a recipe online that used things I already had on hand - one egg, a bit of Dijon mustard, and some oil. Homemade items like bread, nut/oat milk (cashew is my favorite), pickles, salad dressing, kombucha, and vegetable stock not only taste better, but will save you some serious dinero. Heck, you can even make your own dog treats!

Make the Investment
There are some zero waste items that have a higher initial price tag, but will save you money in the long run, such as:

  • Reusable menstrual cup
  • Last Swab
  • Bidet (less toilet paper)
  • Safety razor
  • Silicone food storage bags (or you can just be a crazy person and wash your Ziploc bags like me)
  • Silicone baking mats that replace parchment paper
  • Beeswax wraps that replace plastic wrap

I hope this gives you some inspiration for some budget friendly ways to lower your waste without going broke. I encourage you to start off by making small changes and work your way up to include more of these ideas in your everyday life. Remember, progress is the goal, not perfection!

Julie Jacob, Contributor