Living zero waste really should be (and is in a lot of ways) cheaper considering that you shouldn’t have to spend more to create less.
Here are cheap or free hacks on living zero waste you can start this week.
Go through the hierarchy of waste and you’ll find that you can reduce so much waste by just thinking through what you already produce waste wise then working on refusing.
Refusing comes first on the list – saying no to; single use bags, straws, napkins, cups, plastic tat freebies that you’ll never use, it all reduces your waste that you never really think about.
If you think you’ll need any of the above, bring your own (maybe not the plastic tat freebies). You’ll probably save a lot of money along the way too.
2. Grab your bags
Bring your own bags – buy them once or make them, (for produce bags – sew or tie up an old top or use a pillowcase and knot at the top when done) and you’ll never need to pay the 5/10p charge ever again and hey presto, you’re living more zero waste.
3. New Clothes? Check again
Buying new clothes wastes so much energy, resources and time. Along with creating massive emissions to make a ‘bargain’ top or pair of jeans.
Check through your wardrobe and see if you really need anything new, could you dress something up in a different way? Do you really need to wear something new that you may not necessarily love? Could you borrow something from a friend? Could you go along to a swap shop event? Could you alter the clothing you already have?
If you can’t find anything suitable through these options then have a look in charity shops for some real bargains.
4. No more kitchen roll
Cut up some old clothing and turn them into rags for cleaning up spillages, use an old stained tea towel or use some cloths to mop up the mess – fling them in the washing machine and you’re done. No trees harmed.
5. Make your own cleaning products
Infinitely cheaper and much healthier for your home and personal health with no nasty toxic chemicals. We’ve got a cleaning recipe guide on its way on how to make your own products – we’ve also got a class in collaboration with Fresh Green Clean soon too, see here.
6. Grow your own
If you’ve got a garden – it’s more environmentally friendly to grow your own food and wildflowers than to have an immaculate green lawn. Swallow your pride against having the best clean cut grass lawn in the street and embrace the goodness of growing your own, get some vegetable and fruit patches started along with some wildflowers for the bees to help your garden thrive.
Any surplus food? If you don’t fancy making them into a preserve then why not gift it to friends, shelters and your community. If you don’t have the luxury of a garden, grow your own herb windowsill garden and research what other foods you can grow from your windowsill or, find out if there are any allotments nearby. No more plastic wrapped herbs or vegetables and cheaper or even free for you too!
There are also free food-sharing apps available too, waste less food and collect from people near to you for some free food or ingredients.
7. Compost your food scraps
Hopefully you’ll be watching portion sizes so that your food waste is limited (impossible it seems with children if you have them though, we know) but, most food waste can and should be composted either for growing your own food, passing onto community gardens or putting it into the food recycling scheme with your local council.
8. Embrace your library
Being book fiends, we know the love and joy of reading, but buying new isn’t really ever needed. Local libraries are so quiet nowadays (not because of the general rule sadly) that they aren’t buying in many new books, so go along, sign up for a card, use their internet, ask them to order in a book for you and hey, you’re saving having to buy anything new and not cluttering up your house.
If your library can’t help, ask your friends for a mystery book swap or have a rummage through your local charity shops. There are also book swap groups on social media where you can send and receive great books to read too.
9. Make your own meals and coffee
Hugely healthier for your body and your wallet.
We spend so much on takeaway meals and coffee that it all adds up in the bank account, while it also contributes so much to landfill and it doesn’t seem to be backing down. So make your own lunch and take your own snacks, make your own coffee in the morning and put it in your reusable coffee mug and you’re ready to go out for the day.
If you’re really strapped for time – make sure you always pack your own cutlery, reusable mug, water bottle and lunch box if you know you’re going to be hungry while out and ask wherever you buy food from to put the food into your own container.
Buying soap bars unpackaged or in paper can be a very cheap and zero waste swap. Considering how much liquid soap in their plastic bottles costs for what you’re getting and how long they last – bars of soap are a very easy, long-lasting and effective swap. Find a soap bar that can also be used as a shampoo bar and you’ll save so much more too.
If you prefer liquid soap, simply grate a tablespoons worth of it and heat up in a pot of (1-2 mugs) water to melt and there you go! If you do make your own liquid soap, you’ll notice how little a bar you need to use to make an effective soap.
11. Only ever buy what you need, have a look at what you already own
This comes under number 1 – refuse, but it applies to a lot of things. Many people think that living zero waste is only what everyone shows on Instagram, having aesthetically pleasing photos of their bamboo cutlery or cleaning up with ‘unpaper towels’, but why spend money on items that you don’t need?
They are technically more zero waste in some ways as you’d use them over and over, but, when you buy more products, you’re using the resources and energy needed to make those products when in actual fact, you already own items perfectly suited to the job. Instead of buying bamboo cutlery flown all the way from China, take some cutlery out of your cutlery drawer with you or buy some second hand from a charity shop. When you need to clean something up, follow point 4 – use a tea towel, rag or old cloth to wipe it up.
Living more zero waste doesn’t have to come at a cost
We all have moments where we want to buy something on a whim, grab a takeaway and feel like we’re treating ourselves. By following these simple hacks you can reduce your waste and expenditure dramatically while also possibly getting to know what you need and what you would just like to have ‘because’.
There’s far more to life than spending money needlessly, so if you’re wanting to spend some money or go out and do something; visit friends, have a dinner party (save or compost the leftovers), visit friends, start a book swapping group, go to the cinema or go on a day trip somewhere (be prepared with your reusables).
Experiences and engaging in the community has been proven to improve mental well-being, so it’s a win-win.