How Zero Waste Can Save You Money
By Candace Allison, MPH Candidate in Behavioral, Social and Health Education Sciences
Since beginning my low waste journey two years ago, I’ve encountered a common misconception: it costs a lot of money to go zero/low waste. Upon first glance, it certainly seems that way, with “supply lists,” including reusable straws, utensils, napkins, water bottles, coffee mugs, stainless steel tiffin’s, reusable grocery bags, bamboo toothbrushes, zero waste toothpaste and deodorant, just to name a few. It almost looks like you have to buy your way to sustainability. I felt overwhelmed. Can I actually do this? Thankfully, I found people who guided me and I learned that zero waste can be free and even save you money! Here are some ways I’ve reduced my waste and saved money in the process!
Reuse Take Out Boxes
I love eating out. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I bring my own cutlery (you can grab some from your kitchen, no need to buy a set) and get ready to enjoy. If there is one thing I’ve learned on my journey, it’s that there is more waste in the world than you might think. I ask to take my leftovers home and they bring out a plastic box. Instead of throwing it away, take it home with you, clean it out and bring it next time you go out to eat! That way you aren’t using a new to-go box every time you go out to eat. You can also use them to store leftovers at home too! This saves you the extra expense of buying a to-go box. Plus the plastic is light so it’s not heavy to carry with you. You can also reuse Tupperware you have from home for leftovers.
Please note that in the context of COVID 19, not all restaurants will let you use your own container. That is out of your control. Just do the best you can right now. Keep this tip in mind though for when it’s safe.
Reusable Menstrual Products
If you are someone who menstruates, consider using reusable menstrual products, such as a menstrual cup or period underwear! Did you know that the average menstruating person uses 12,000-15,000 disposable period products in their lifetime? That’s about 250-300 pounds of waste. Additionally, disposable menstrual products (i.e. pads, tampons, tampon applicators) are ending up in our oceans and waterways. Not to mention, they’re plastic! It’s been estimated that 90% of a pad and 6% of a tampon are plastic. One pack of menstrual pads is equivalent to 4 or 5 plastic bags. 1 The upfront cost of period underwear can be expensive but in the long run, it will end up saving you money. I’ve been using both a menstrual cup and reusable underwear for two years and I’ll never go back.
Please note that menstrual cups can sometimes cause problems if you have an IUD or intrauterine device. Consult with your OBGYN before using a menstrual cup if this applies to you.
Air Dry Your Clothes
This tip is two-fold (pun intended!). For one thing, using your dryer less will lower your energy bill every month and it’s actually better for your clothes! Dryers can stretch and wear out your clothes faster than if you air dry them. So, you save money on bills and your clothes last longer! I got a small drying rack for my clothes but there are hidden gems around your house too! You can use the curtain rod in your shower to hang clothes on. There are also towel racks, doorknobs, chairs and even your closet! Yes, I have air dried my clothes in the closet. I dry them and put them away at the same time! Talk about feeding two birds with one biscuit!
Take shorter showers
Speaking of saving money on bills, take shorter showers! Not only does it cost money to heat up the water, it also costs money to get to you! Taking a shorter shower (even by a few minutes) can save you money on your water bill every month. What more can I say?
Use the library
The library never ceases to amaze me at how many services it offers. Of course, in the context of the current pandemic, these services may be limited or temporarily unavailable. The library can save you hundreds of dollars every year. As an avid reader myself, I’ve saved about $250 this year using the library. But these savings don’t just come from borrowing books. The library has printers that you can utilize, saving you money on paper, ink and the printer itself! They also have newspapers, magazines, and DVDs. Some libraries (such as Dekalb County Libraries) will offer services such as Lynda.com, where you can earn certifications on things such as statistical software, inclusive educational design, and Zoom to name a few. Overall, the library is an amazing resource to utilize when living a waste conscious life.
Do you have any other ideas for reducing waste and saving money? Leave us a comment!
- Nemeth, C. (2020, July 31). How to have a Plastic Free Period this Plastic Free July. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://divacup.com/how-to-have-a-plastic-free-period-this-plastic-free-july/