Easy Ways to Go Zero Waste on a Budget
Going zero waste on a budget. Is it even possible?
The zero waste movement has a reputation for being expensive. In a way, that’s true. If you go out and buy every zero waste item you see right away, the cost will add up quickly.
But here’s the thing: there are some zero waste items you don’t need to get right away. There are also plenty of ways you can make going zero waste more budget-friendly.
If you’re interested in going zero waste on a budget, these awesome tips can help!
1. Reuse and Upcycle
Those Instagram-worthy pictures of all those matching glass jars and containers in cabinets sure do look pretty. But they’re not the least bit budget friendly.
Here’s a little secret: My family and I live a very low waste lifestyle, and our cabinets look NOTHING like that. Our glass jars and containers are almost all different. That’s because we reuse and repurpose.
Buying groceries in containers that are easy to either reuse or recycle is a great way to go zero waste grocery shopping when you don’t have a bulk store nearby. When you get salsa, marinara sauce, or anything else in a glass jar, you can simply remove the label and reuse the glass jar for storage, drinking, and even freezing food.
2. Use up What You Already Have
Using up what you already have before buying new is the one secret to going zero waste on a budget that a lot of people forget about.
For example, as much as you’d love to make the switch to a bamboo toothbrush right now, it’s better to wait until you’ve used up all of those plastic toothbrushes. They’ve already been produced, so you’re creating more waste if you throw them away before the end of their useful life.
As you’re using them items you already have, you can take that time to save money for the reusable counterparts. Once you’ve used up the disposable items, you’ll be able to get your eco-friendly items without a big hit to your budget.
3. Save for Higher-Priced Items
Reusable items do cost more than disposable items. But when you think about why, it makes complete sense.
Manufacturers of disposable items know you’re going to use the items once, throw them away, and immediately buy more. They can charge less because you have to keep buying and buying.
When you buy reusable items, you’re getting something you can use again and again for years. Some reusable items can even last a lifetime! Manufacturers have to charge a little more because once you buy their product, you likely won’t be getting another one anytime soon.
When it’s time to buy one of those higher-priced zero waste items, you can make it easier on your budget by saving for it.
When my son was getting ready to start kindergarten, I knew I wanted to pack him a zero waste lunch. Of course, I also knew that meant I would need to get some of these awesome leak-proof plastic free containers.
A few months before he started school, I saved a couple dollars from every paycheck. By the time the beginning of the school year rolled around, I had enough money to get the containers I wanted.
4. Make Your Own
One excellent way to go zero waste on a budget is to make what you need. There are plenty of health and beauty products you can make for yourself to help create a zero waste bathroom. Here are some to get you started:
- Nourishing Shave Gel
- Lavender Loofah Soap
- Massaging Shampoo Bar
- Coffee Scrub That Helps Reduce the Look of Cellulite
- After-Sun Spray for Sunburns
- Aloe Vera Gel
This DIY beeswax food wrap uses a commercial recipe for extra stickiness. Plus, don’t forget you can make a variety of homemade cleaning solutions that not only help you save money, but are also better for your health and the environment.
5. Shop Secondhand
Living a zero waste life doesn’t mean you never buy anything ever again. Clothes will wear out to the point that you need more. Things will break beyond what can be repaired.
However, when you do have to buy something, check the secondhand shops around you before buying new.
Shopping secondhand offers two advantages over buying new. First, you can often save a significant amount of money. Second, you’re buying something that has already been produced and eliminating the need for something new to be produced. This helps conserve resources and is better for the environment.
6. Create a Meal Plan
I would absolutely love to be the kind of person who does a ton of meal prepping on Sunday so that all we have to do during the week is pull something out of the refrigerator, warm it up, and enjoy. But by now I’ve accepted that I’m just not organized enough for that happen.
However, what I can do is make a plan of what we’re going to have for dinner each night of the week. I do this right before I go grocery shopping so I can make sure I get all the ingredients I need.
This offers me a variety of benefits. First, it helps me eliminate the dreaded, “What am I going to cook for dinner tonight?” dilemma. Plus, not only does it help me save money by ensuring I don’t buy unnecessary items, but it also helps me prevent food waste by avoiding impulse purchases.
Need some inspiration to help you create your weekly meal plan? Here are some great resources that include a variety of eco-friendly meals:
- Easy Vegetarian Instant Pot Recipes
- Over 85 Eggplant Recipes
- Super Simple Vegan Pantry Recipes
- Satisfying Autumn Vegan Recipes
- Incredibly Easy Vegetarian Pantry Recipes
- Over 100 Awesome Vegetarian Recipes
7. Start a Garden
If you take a look at the trash you produce during the average week, I bet the vast majority of it will come from food packaging. You can’t create a zero waste kitchen without tackling food packaging waste.
One incredibly simple way to reduce your food packaging waste is to start a garden. Don’t worry! Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can handle growing these best vegetables for beginner gardeners.
When you start your garden, you’ll enjoy an amazing variety of benefits, including a lower grocery bill, better physical health, and better mental health.
When you’re making your meals, don’t throw those fruit and vegetable scraps into the trash. Instead, compost them!
If you’ve never tried to compost before, you might think it’s this crazy complicated process. But here’s the good news: Mother Nature takes care of almost all the work for you! This helpful guide has everything you need to know about composting so you can get started right away.
Admittedly, compost bins aren’t always cheap. (This might be one of those zero waste items you save up to get.) But they’re also not completely necessary.
If you’re trying to go zero waste on a budget, you can simply create a compost pile in the corner of your yard and turn it using a shovel. You can also repurpose some type of container into a food scraps bin you keep in your kitchen and start composting without spending hardly any money.
9. Look for Sales
When it’s time for me to purchase zero waste and plastic-free essentials, I almost always get them when they’re on sale.
If you have a local zero waste shop, see if they have social media pages you can follow or a newsletter you can sign up for so you can always stay on top of any sales they might have.
Even if you don’t have a local zero waste shop, these online zero waste shops regularly run different promotions that can help you save money on all of the supplies you need.
10. Just Say No
One final way you can go zero waste on a budget is both the hardest and easiest. It’s simply saying no when you feel like purchasing something that you don’t absolutely need.
Yes, that new shirt you see in the window looks adorable. But do you ABSOLUTELY need a new piece of clothing? Yes, that new book has gotten a lot of great reviews. But is it possible your library might have it to borrow?
When you cut down on how much you purchase, you not only save money, but you help reduce the amount of waste that ends up back in the environment.
Related: The Best Biodegradable Garbage Bags
10 Ways to Go Zero Waste on a Budget
Living a zero waste lifestyle doesn’t have to be something that only the well-off can afford. Thanks to these helpful tips on how to go zero waste on a budget, you can also start living a more eco-friendly and sustainable life without spending a ton of money.
More Eco-Friendly Living Tips
Now that you see how easy it is to go zero waste on a budget, are you interested in even more outstanding tips that can help you live an eco-friendly life? Then be sure to check out some of these other popular posts:
- Easy Ways to Reduce Paper Towel Use
- How to Have a Zero Waste Laundry Room
- Homesteading Skills You Can Start Learning Today
- Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Household Items