Reduce Waste AND Save Money With These Simple Tips

We’ve all seen painful images of huge garbage barges in the ocean and aquatic creatures choking in plastic, and the latest climate change report has shown us that we have less time than we thought to get our act together. Hopefully these visuals are reason enough to make you want to waste less...but you can also consider the money you might save but cutting down at the dump!

We live in a consumer society wrapped up in plastic, but buying less that you’ll eventually throw away can save your money and the environment. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

 

Bring your own bag or mug

We’ve all taken the classic “Starbucks cup selfie,” but consider ditching the paper cup on your next coffee run. Starbucks offers a 10-cent discount on any drink if you bring your own mug, and many other coffee houses offer similar deals. A growing number of grocery stores also offer small discounts for shopping with reusable bags.

Buy in bulk

Costco, here we come! Single, individually-wrapped products may be easier to carry from the store to your car, but you have to throw them away much more often and they cost more than the same items sold in bulk. Although the unit price sometimes only varies by a few cents, this begins to add up when you consider the difference in size. Plus: you’ll have to buy the item less often, which can save you and the environment on gas for trips to the store.

Buy fresh and local foods

Not only is fresh produce healthier than its processed counterparts, it usually has much less (if any) packaging. Some fruits and veggies can be expensive, but if you shop locally and for what’s in season, you can get some great prices. Stop by a farmers market and you’ll find deals on food that is fresher than anything you could find in the grocery store anyway.

 

Consider menstrual cups

Your choice in period products is a very personal one--but read up on using menstrual cups instead of traditional products like pads and tampons. Mayo Clinic estimates that, on average, a woman spends $50-$150 on pads and tampons in a year, versus buying a menstrual cup for $20-$40 which can last from at least 6 months all the way up to 10 years. That's 10 years of more money in your pocket and less garbage at the dump.

 

Use rags and towels

When you need to cover your food in the microwave or clean up a quick spill, you probably reach for a paper towel or disinfecting wipe. Even though they are convenient, these products are wasteful and must be repurchased every time you use them, so opt for towels instead.

All of these changes might seem small, but picture this: it’s time to go grocery shopping. On the way, you go to Starbucks and save 10 cents with your reusable mug. At the grocery store, you save 5 cents on each of your four shopping bags, you save $2 on your shopping trip by buying bulk items, you save another $6 by not buying a box of tampons, and you avoid spending $2 on a new package of paper towels. Say you go on this shopping trip once a month, and you’ve saved almost $125 in a year. And, of course, you’ve saved the planet, too.

Have more eco-friendly and budget-friendly suggestions? Write them in the comments!