Easy Ways to Reduce Household Waste and Save Money
When we think of living with less, we don’t usually think of including how much we produce and throw away.
I’m here to offer an alternative to the way we currently “do business as usual” when it comes to the items we can’t live without.
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Yea, we want to reduce some of the waste we have at home, but who has time for that? I recycle, isn’t that enough?
Reducing waste completely seems like a pipe dream, especially in modern-day America.
But there are many long and short-term benefits of reducing the waste that goes into and out of our households.
When we reduce what comes in and goes out of our households, that’s less waste ending up in our oceans, on our streets, and throughout our landscapes.
And it’s helpful to remember that everything going into our homes usually has to come out as well.
Makeup is a billion dollar industry. BILLION. That’s a lot of dollar signs, y’all.
And while feeling pretty is fine and dandy, it costs the average American woman $15,000 a year, and for some this can mean spending up to $300,000 in a lifetime. I know you’re not keeping all those receipts, but makeup purchases add up fast.
CHALLENGE: Even if it isn’t a change you make forever, I challenge you to stop buying beauty products for one month. Just take a note of how much you could be saving each month.
Everyone’s favorite topic!
No one likes talking about bleeding each month, but we do. We bleed and all we want is to do it in peace with as little fuss as possible.
There are a lot of options out there, but only a few that truly help to eliminate how much we throw away.
I started using the Diva Cup when we hiked through the UK. This product has changed my life. I used to use period panties from THINX, but they were awkward and just made me feel frumpy after a while. Plus, they’re a good $30 per pair. I spent $90 bucks for three pairs and only ended up wearing them for about a year before I tossed them. Hm.
Let’s take a look at this graphically (I love easy to read, colorful graphs!).
The Diva Cup is less than $30 for one cup and lasts at least a year, depending on your preference. The average box of tampons costs roughly $8 and all of it eventually ends up in the trash. $8 per box every two months would end up costing you about $48 a year plus a lot of added waste.
Beyond saving money and reducing waste, the cup is also easy to insert and maintain no matter where you are. If I wasn’t near a sink while on trail where I could rinse it out, I’d use toilet paper in the stall and that worked fine until I could get somewhere to really clean it.
What I think is a unique feature of the cups, besides that they are reusable, is that they are easy to store and carry.
My Diva Cup came with a cute small bag I can put in my purse while I’m on the go or the drawer in my bathroom when I don’t need it.
If you are interested in buying a menstrual cup, be sure to get the right type and size for your body. Most companies offer a pre-childbirth or post-childbirth cup, so pay attention to the item description.
I know all this talk of reusable cups sounds gross, but you know what’s even grosser? Bloody pieces of paper and plastic we throw away that end up in our landfills and possibly other places. YUCK.
Learn more here.
CHALLENGE: Have you ever thought to make the switch? I’d encourage you to try it. If you buy from Amazon and don’t like it, they’ll reimburse you and you don’t have to go through the trouble of sending it back (because of obvious reasons). If you do try it, let me know what you think! I’m sure there are other women who would appreciate your opinion as well.
One of the easiest ways I’ve learned Jeremy and I can save money and reduce waste at home is to use the same body products. I know that sounds weird, but when you’re newly married, every penny counts.
We started using a shampoo, body wash, and deodorant we both like. I haven’t calculated how much this has probably saved us, but I’m guessing it’s considerable.
What we had before:
- Two separate shampoos
- Two separate conditioners
- Two separate deodorants
- Two separate body washes
What we have now:
- One, two-in-one shampoo and conditioner
- One body wash
- One deodorant
Judge us if you must, but I don’t need any froo froo shampoo or body wash and Jeremy could care less. This was a no-brainer for us.
CHALLENGE: What’s one product you can cut back on or share in your home?
We all know cooking at home saves us money, but, again, who has the time?
Before we go to the store each week, I plan which meals I’ll make per day and base our list off of those meals and assorted snacks.
In the past, I used a printable meal plan template. Now, I make a list of what I’m making each day of the week (including nights out if we do that) and then I make a list of grocery items based on those meals. Here, you can download my free Printable Weekly Meal Plan.
This helps me stay organized when I’m at the store. If I know what I need, I’m less likely to buy things I don’t need.
Another trick I’ve found to save money is clearing the pantry. Maybe I’m weird, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of using all the random foodstuffs I already have.
Sometimes this means getting more creative with dinner, but when you’re willing to use what you have and not spend money you don’t need to it can be really fun.
Some of the creative dinners we’ve had:
- Breakfast sausage with macaroni
- Tortillas, cheese, spinach/onion/bell peppers
- BBQ pulled venison and leftover chicken fried rice
- Tacos-less tacos with beef, lettuce, jalapenos, and chili cheese Freetos
Another approach I’ve taken to reduce food waste at home is to use our own bags for everything at the store, including fruits and veggies.
Try to stop using those useless plastic bags and bring a couple smaller bags with you. We started using the food bags we take with us when we’re hiking. They work really well and now I don’t have to worry about wasting those plastic bags.
I also just bought a small compost bin off Amazon. Since we live in an RV, I thought this was going to be more difficult than it proved to be.
I made some space under the sink and BAM! We’re now composting. Since we don’t have a garden or curbside pickup, we’ll dump it at Jeremy’s work each week, but we are on our way!
CHALLENGE: Try at least one “creative dinner” this week. You never know. It could become a staple in your home.
The engine fuel of the working woman.
Now this one is hard for me because I need coffee to survive (ha!).
But buying coffee at Starbucks or any other coffee shop or cafe is going to cost you like 10 times as much more than if you make a pot at home.
It’s super simple and it saves you a lot of those $$$ we keep talking about.
Speaking of saving, it costs a few bucks a package to get coffee filters. Well, for less than $7 on Amazon, you can get a reusable coffee filter. Immediate savings and less waste! I just bought one and I can already tell it’s a money saver.
CHALLENGE: The average bag of coffee costs between $5 – $10, depending on where you live. If your pot makes 12 cups of coffee per pot per day every day until the bag is gone, you’re looking at saving hundreds to thousands of dollars a year by making coffee at home. Try going without Starbucks for a week and see how much you save.
Minimizing waste at home will help to eliminate the additional costs of the items above. It may not be overnight but it definitely won’t take more than a couple months to see progress.
The more cognizant we are about what we buy and bring home, the better choices we can make for ourselves, our families, and our planet.
How do you reduce waste at home? What kinds of things do you buy that you could eliminate in the future?