How to be Zero Waste on a Budget
Updated: May 27
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Instagram and Pinterest have been great tools for introducing people to zero waste.
They have made so many people aware of the harm we are to doing to our planet .
But just like everything else Instagram and Pinterest have their flaws.
They only seem to show the picture perfect version of an eco friendly life . They fail to show us the whole picture .
When I first started my journey to zero waste I felt overwhelmed by how much stuff I needed to start living my life this way .
I was wrong! a waste free life isn’t about buying more it’s about being conscious of what we have ,buy, and use.
You don’t need a lot of money to do zero waste properly you just need to change your mindset.
5 Ways to be Zero Waste on Budget
1. Use What You Have
Before you go out and buy all the picture perfect zero waste products use up everything you have .
So you have a 1000 pack of razors from Costco ...Use them until you run out .
So you have plastic baggies use them and reuse them until they have no life left.
Reuse plastic grocery bags ... for more groceries , garbage bags, or keep them in your diaper bag to use as wet bags . Use them until you no longer have any then buy reusable bags.
If you buy condiments in glass jars why not use those jars for your bulk shopping? Matching jars are over priced and completely unnecessary.
Do your rags really need to match ? Or can you just cut up some old towels?
It is more wasteful to go out and buy the reusable / zero waste alternatives to items if you haven't used what you already have. You don't want anything you own to go to waste.
Buy what you need as you need it and you will be surprised how much money you will save .
2. Only Buy What You ACTUALLY Need
Need and want are two very different things . A huge part of reducing waste is learning what you actually need.
You don’t want to be buying items that will just end up in the garbage or a dusty box in your basement .
Zero waste and minimalism are very different but learning to have a minimalist approach can help .
For a zero waste bathroom, maybe you don’t need a different cleanser for each different pimple you get , maybe everyone in your family can use the same shampoo, and maybe you don’t need expensive reusable makeup remover pads ... maybe you can just use a cloth .
Maybe you don't need to go out and buy a shampoo bar until you have finished up the shampoo you already have.
Is there something in your home somewhere that you can use to solve your problem ?
I use all my old tupperware to help keep everything in my house organized without needing to buy anything new.
The most zero waste thing you can do is BUY NOTHING!
If that isn’t an option try finding it used before you go looking for something new.
3. Make Instead Of Buy
DIY everything you possibly can.
It might surprise you how simple some things are to make yourself .
Make your own multipurpose cleaner, hand soap , face wash, dish soap , and floor cleaning using Castile soap and water.
(Check out my Blog post: A Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning: Castile Soap )
Home made stir fry sauces are so easy to make and save you from needing a new bottle for every meal .
I love to use sesame oil , rice vinegar , and soy sauce in all my homemade sauces . Hoisin sauce , ginger , garlic , hot sauce , cider vinegar are also ingredients I use a lot .
If you have a stalked pantry and can make everything yourself you will save so much money and unnecessary packaging .
Like mentioned above its so easy to make your own rags by cutting up old towels .
Old sheets make amazing handkerchiefs, napkins, face cloths , and cloth wipes .
The more you make the less you will buy .
4. Shop Secondhand
Thrifting is another amazing step in the zero waste movement . I talk about it a lot ! Instead of encouraging the demand for new go check out some thrift stores .
They have so much more than just clothes .
I understand the need for 100 reusable to go cups . I know that no matter how many you have they always seem to be dirty or missing ...
Second hand stores have an amazing selection of to go cups , water bottles , jars , containers , dishes , linens , toys, and other awesome nicknacks.
You can continue to make the right choice for our earth and obsessively buy new water bottles and to go cups !
This is the most challenging part for me!
I work at home and don’t go out much so I often forget this simple step .
Ask for your drink to have no straw , ask if your bagel can be handed to you unwrapped , ask if you can use your own cup, ask if you can use your own container.
It’s such an easy step and it costs you nothing.
In order to do it you need to be prepared !
If you don’t have a lot of space in your bag usually a reusable cloth and a water bottle will do the trick .
A plate or bowl takes up a lot of space but a cloth works just as good ... unless you’re getting soup ... 😂
If you do those 5 things you will be able to drastically reduce your waste for practically nothing . Reducing waste doesn’t have to be this huge change all at once. Taking it step by step is okay !
Adjust to a change before you introduce a new one , that way these changes will actually stick , and you will be one step closer to a zero waste life .