Inspired by the zero-waste movement, I have looked into ways to reduce waste at home and save money at the same time. Currently, there is a high demand to cut down waste, especially plastic waste but many people are ill-informed about reusable alternatives. Additionally, being part of the throw-away culture is linked to substantial costs. Why replacing items over and over when you could buy them just once? Help to save the planet and your wallet at the same time with my totally reusable suggestions.
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How to reduce waste at home and save money
1. Save money when doing laundry
The laundry egg can help reduce waste and save money when washing your clothes. It fabulously replaces your normal washing detergent and fabric conditioner. One laundry egg will last for 720 washes so there is a huge reduction in plastic waste compared to normal detergent and conditioner.
If you are like me and wash once a week or less, one egg will last for more than 12 years. For comparison, one bottle of detergent may last for 54 washes and cost £9 (depending on the brand). That is about a year for me! If you wash more frequently than I do, your reduction in plastic waste will be huge! As for fabric conditioner, you may get 54 washes for £3 (depending on the brand). Standardising both to 100 washes, using the laundry will cost you £3, whereas you would pay £22 for regular detergent and conditioner. Note that for this comparison, I used the brands I have at home, results may differ for you.
The downside of the laundry eggs is that it will not give you the same fragrance as regular detergent. Surprisingly, your clothes will smell like clothes, not as you live inside a drug store. Additionally, you may still need to use normal detergent for heavily stained clothes.
2. Reusable period wear
Make your period wear more comfortable with reusable period wear. While periods will never be the most fun time of the month, there is substantial potential for improvement. Plastic pads and synthetic tampons add a huge amount of waste to landfills and keeping buying new packs eats your money over time. It does not have to be like this! There are a range of reusable and environment-friendly option.
When I started wearing reusable pads, I was not quite sure where to start. I searched for the product on Amazon with the highest rating and found these lovely pads. Since then, I have always been wearing them. The colourful design makes my period look pretty and they are so comfortable, that I sometimes forget I am wearing them.
It is not all sugar and honey though. While these pads are leak-proof, it may still feel wet during heavier days and sometimes it can be a bit smelly. It is a trade-off but overall, I feel better with my reusable pads.
I also use period-proof underpants. These are ideal for use during nights as they are super leak-proof and can absorb a ton. One lasts the whole day! Sometimes the pants may become a bit smelly, hence I prefer to wear them while I am sleeping.
Note that I am currently not recommending the use of menstrual cups. Menstrual cups may be associated with a higher occurrence of toxic shock syndrome. Reducing waste at home and saving money should not increase your risk of death.
3. Reduce waste at home with handkerchiefs
If you suffer from hayfever like me, you will know how little time it takes to use up a pack of tissues. The waste quickly adds up and you have to run to the shop to buy a new supply of tissues. Recently, I decided I had enough of this and started using cotton handkerchiefs instead. Now when I am having a runny nose, I can elegantly show-off my handkerchief with its beautiful floral stitches like a princess in 1820.
The only drawback of these handkerchiefs is that they have to be ironed after washing. For someone as lazy as me, this is a huge issue so I tend to… just not do it. As a result, the handkerchiefs show more resemblance to disposable tissues now but they are still amazing to use and produce are less waste than ordinary tissues.
4. Save the ocean with reusable shopping bags
With plastic bags now costing a minimum of £0.05, the UK has finally reached the era of reusable shopping bags. And there is a huge variety! You can opt for convenient bags that can be folded into a small pocket. Or you could choose a stylish cotton bag that also makes a fashionable accessory. Whichever you use, it will be better than the single-use plastic bags now swimming in the ocean.
5. Be a trendsetter with steel straws
Plastic straws are the worst! You use them for two minutes and off to the bin they go. Worse yet, they commonly come in a separate plastic wrapping, adding to the mountain of plastic waste. McDonalds is changing to paper straws as even they recognise the unnecessary pollution. So, if you are still using plastic straws you may soon be a worse waste offender than a fast-food chain. However, with steel straws, you can be one step ahead of everyone else and reduce your waste to ZERO. Also, steel straws are far more stylish than their plastic counterparts.
In my opinion, everyone should be using steel straws. Sadly, people like convenience more than the Earth. Steel straws require washing up after use and that is just too much for too ask for, is it not?
6. Safety razors for a better shaving experience
I hate how I have to pay £20 for a pack of four cartridges for my razor. And then, after a few uses, there is more plastic waste. When I researched cheaper and more sustainable options, I soon read about the sudden popularity of safety razors. One cartridge for a safety razor does not last as long as those for a conventional razor. However, the blades are so much cheaper, costing around £0.10 per cartridge. Such a difference!
Additionally, safety razors come with the benefit of an improved shaving experience. Only one blade at a time touches your skin, resulting in less skin irritation, shave bumps and ingrown hairs.
What are the disadvantages of safety razors? They do not usually come in fancy colours. You will have to get used to looking at cold metal rather than dream pink or peachy orange. More importantly, it may take to some time to get used to using safety razors but I totally think it is worth it.
7. Protect your food with beeswax wraps
Are you currently wrapping your food in paper wraps or plastic boxes? Beeswax wraps are a reusable and sustainable alternative to paper and plastic. These wraps are made out of beeswax and cotton so you can just wash them after use. And if you have to throw your beeswax wrap away one day, it is fully compostable.
To use a beeswax wrap, you have to warm it up a little with your hands and wrap it around your food. Then wrap it around your food. The beeswax wrap will stick together, safely protecting your food.
Before using, you have to consider that certain items, such as raw meat or soup cannot be wrapped with it. Well, you could wrap raw meat but that may be a bit disgusting. You also cannot throw them away after use, if you are out that means you may have to carry a dirty wrap all day.
8. Reduce waste at home with refillable water bottles
The benefit of refillable water bottles is plainly obvious. It is so easy to pick up a small plastic bottle with water when you are out and feel thirsty. However, over time the costs and waste add up quickly. With a refillable water bottle, you have no extra costs and little waste after years of use.
There are so many different options for refillable bottles. I recommend steel-based bottles to reduce plastic usage, but there are also many BPA-free plastic bottles. Plastic has the advantage that it is lighter but the disadvantage is that it is … well, plastic. If you prefer your water ice cold, or like drinking hot tea, you could look into buying a thermos bottle.
9. Reusable gift bags
When Christmas comes around, people find great joy in exchanging presents. However, all that is left the day after, is a mountain of used gift wraps, ready to fill up the bins. Do you want to break this vicious cycle? Reusable gift bags are one solution. You buy them once and can reuse the bags every year (if your loved ones return them).
Sadly, when I tried to introduce reusable gift bags into my family, they were not well-liked. I was accused of not wanting to put any effort into wrapping my presents. While my family was not all that wrong with this, it also highlights another benefit of using reusable gift bags. Even if you are unskilled or lazy when it comes to gift wrapping, with gift bags, your presents will always look nice.
10. Rechargeable batteries
Batteries are known as annoying everyday items that always need to be replaced sooner than you think. Imagine how much you could save over time if you could simply recharge your batteries. Rechargeable batteries have actually been on the market for a very long time. I remember my parents buying some for my sister and me when I was about 10 years old. Understandably, battery manufacturers earn less money with these, so rechargeable batteries never got the attention they deserved.
The drawbacks of rechargeable batteries are that they sadly do not last forever. When it is eventually time dispose of them (mine lasted for more than five years), they become as environment-unfriendly as regular batteries. I therefore recommend taking good care of your rechargeable batteries.
How to reduce waste at home and save money summary
To easily reduce waste at home you can use
- Laundry eggs
- Reusable period wear
- Cotton handkerchiefs
- Reusable shopping bags
- Steel straws
- Safety razors
- Beeswax wraps
- Refillable water bottles
- Reusable gift bags
- Rechargeable batteries
Another way to reduce waste at home and save money is to adopt a more frugal mindset. Read how this can also increase your happiness level. Become more conscious about your purchase decisions with my interactive flowchart.
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