Can lowering waste really be less expensive?
When you hear “zero waste” do you first picture people buying less and living a simple life, or a slew of wood and metal items for every day tasks. For a lot of people it’s the later, and that is NOT the core of living a low waste life or the solution to trash… something I want to change!
Lowering waste isn’t meant to be a noble move for those with more money, it’s often a course correction for exactly those people who have knowingly or unknowingly used their wider options at the expense people and planet. At it’s heart, lowering waste is about spending LESS.
Plastic free products obviously have a place! “Plastic production has increased almost continuously since the 1950s… As of 2017, 7 billion of the 8.8 billion tons produced globally over that whole period have become waste.” – National Geographic 2020. So we need change and I’ll always choose non plastic options, but the ranges of wooden and metal items can turn the conversation from just using less, switching off, and saying no, to ironically, buying more!
6 Waste Saving Moves that Will save YOU money too!
1. Make your coffee at home, Weight it, and Drink less
This was our first married budget move when we added up how much we spent on coffee out each month and it hit three figures which shocked us. There’s a place for buying coffee out if you have the budget and it can be done with lower waste (like get a good to go mug). But it’s often not a winner on both fronts so know your budget, and make what you need at home. We use a French press (UK link/US link) for being the easiest lowest waste option. 25p for a cup of coffee vs £2-2.50 for the average americano or French press coffee is a ten fold difference.
We use 0.75oz coffee and 15 oz water for two smaller cups. This also lets us use more ethical brands that are lower waste from start to finish like THESE brands HERE.
2. Turn off the lights and tap
Yeah, not sexy. Stay with me. People prefer the sexier options that check a more visible tangible box but turning off the tap and the lights are STILL important. And I think it builds a really good muscle that plays out in so much. Write yourself a note or set a timer at night to switch everything off, and pop a note by the sinks to remind you to only use the water you need. Put a bucket in the shower to save the water that runs as it heats and use it to flush the toilet, or water plants! And while you’re at it, mend that leaky tap or toilet, put a HIPPO water saver in the cistern (UK link) or just skipping flushing sometimes… “when it’s yellow let it mellow.”
3. Buy bulk dry items not canned or cooked
There are so many wins in here! Buying in bulk in general can often save money by getting lower prices. Bigger packages mean less packaging per volume unit too. Dry beans, rice, lentils and items like that always cost a lot less than the pre cooked version and are a great place to start reducing costs for being in themselves a great budget choice in a meal plan! You also have the added bonus of not using energy to transport water across the world in canned goods. Finally, buying dry allows you to soak and sprout beans getting more goodness for your money – another win!
4. Invest in a safety razor
Initially this might be a tad more of a spend with the average razor being in the $/£ 20-30 range. But from there on, they reduce cost and save so much waste with nothing ever needing to go in trash and replacement blades costing $6 for 20 via Package free Shop which is over a year supply for most people.
They can also be a healthier options, with no strips of potentially harmful chemicals, and while not everyone can use one, in terms of ease they are easy to get the hang of (in all areas!) and I’ve only cut myself twice in 5 years actually far less than a regular razor.
I got my razor from Package Free Shop , for UK + Europe look at the one above from Wearth London. Wearth is again another fantastic resource for mindful, well sourced shopping. Find it HERE.
5. Don’t go in for fast fashion – buy staples and wear again and again
…or go second hand. This can take a real mindset shift and training yourself. And it takes a budget and seeing the numbers to believe it. But statistically people spend more on clothes than they used to, just less per item. We’re spending more on cheaper clothes. Then you need to repurchase again sooner because you’ve spent less and they’re not well made. So, if you can create a clothing budget, look at what you REALLY need, and spend a little more for well made… it actually pays off. Nudies Jeans are ones of my favourites in this area, Jared bought his 6 years ago and is about to send them off for their second round of free repairs after wearing most days for 6 years. For our go to brands that are all not fast fashion and better made see HERE.
Not everyone can afford to spend more on clothes even when buying less items. We have a close to zero clothing budget and really save all clothes purchasing for gifts. And if you’re in that I recommend going second hand – there’s a lot out there and you can TOTALLY build a wardrobe on second hand charity shop pieces. You can read a post on Tips for Second Hand Shopping HERE.
6. Eat all the food you buy!
This is the hidden gem that can save a LOT. In 2007, UK households created 6,700,000 tonnes of food waste – accounting for 19 per cent of all municipal solid waste. (“Weekly food waste collections can benefit the environment and save money”. Defra. 2008.) With 60% of that waste food being deemed “avoidable”, and 19% more being avoidable due to preferences like bread crusts and potato peelings. It’s easier said than done but so key, even being aware of it makes us more careful. It’s why I talk over and over about meal planning, grocery list writing, and using leftovers. I talk more about this and all these money saving waste saving moves in my print book The Green Edit.
YES lowering waste can cost less, should cost less, needs to cost less. If you want a hand hold through saving waste and making some lifestyle changes without judgement or a one size fits all approach, this is why I wrote The Green Edit: Home. I wanted to change the idea that it has to be buying more, or that lowering waste isn’t an option for everyone. Yes it will look different for everyone but that’s the point! See the book in the countries it’s available HERE.