April 22 marks Earth Day and it’s just around the corner. What better way to replenish Mother Earth and restore her back to health than by committing to a trash-free lifestyle on that day? Swapping out everyday items for zero waste products is a great way to reduce waste, minimise carbo footprint and save money too.
Here’s a list of 10 essential zero waste swaps that can save you money:
1. Use reusable coffee cups not disposable
When purchasing coffee on the go, bring your reusable coffee cup. It will cost you $20-$40 upfront but will save waste in the long run. In addition, many coffee shops now give a 10 to 30 cent discount if you bring your reusable cup. Assuming you’re a coffee addict and purchase a takeaway coffee five times a week, you could save up to $70 a year just by taking your reusable cup. You’ll have made the cost of the reusable cup back in just one year.
2. Use your reusable bottle and forgo bottled water
Around 2.5 million water bottles are thrown out every hour making it one of the top ten items collected in beach clean ups worldwide. In addition, plastic bottles contain harmful chemical compounds including Bysphenol A or BPA which poses a number of health risks including problems with liver and kidney functions.
In the United States alone, 167 water bottles are consumed per person in a year on average. For ease of calculation, if the water bottles cost $2.00 this is costing the average person $334 per year. So forgo bottled water and just take your reusable water bottle with you.
3. Use a shampoo bar instead of bottled shampoo
A shampoo and conditioning bar costs around $7-$10 per bar which can last up to three months depending on how often you need to wash your hair. You spend maximum $40 a year and you don’t consume any plastic. Compare this with the $10 per month that you spend on regular bottled shampoo and conditioner costing $120 annually. It’s not only more expensive, it’s more wasteful too, creating more plastic packaging isn’t a good thing particularly if there are minimal waste alternatives and let’s not forget the energy that needs to be consumed to recycle the material.
4. Reusable pads or menstrual cup not disposable ones
One conventional sanitary napkin contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags as well as other chemicals that may irritate the skin. It can take hundreds of years for one of these items to decompose not to mention the waste it contributes to landfills. By opting for reusable cotton pads or a menstrual cup, a woman not only minimises her waste but saves money in the long run as well.
Let’s say that during an average menstrual cycle a woman uses approximately 12 tampons or 5 sanitary napkins. This would cost roughly $50-60 a year. By purchasing a $27 menstrual cup or a set of reusable organic cotton pads that can last 10 years or more, you could save you around $500-600 over 10 years.
5. Reusable makeup remover pads not cotton balls
Purchase a set of five reusable and washable makeup remover pads for just $14 and save yourself up hundreds of dollars throughout your life. Not only will you save money, but you’ll save the resources and waste associated with growing and disposing of cotton balls.
6. Switch from paper towels to washable cleaning cloths
Make the switch from disposable paper towels to reusable, washable cleaning cloths. Aside from getting your kitchen counters squeaky clean, you can actually save roughly $50-100 a year just by making the switch. In addition, you save waste and the energy used to manufacture disposable paper towels.
Want to save even more money? Use any old t-shirt or worn fabrics or materials for a rag. It costs you nothing and you save a whole lotta bucks just by being resourceful and frugal.
7. Don’t buy books, just borrow from your local library or from friends
If you’re an avid book reader you could save yourself hundreds of dollars each year just by choosing to borrow from the library or friends rather than purchase. For example, if you read a book a week and it costs you $20 a book, you’re spending over $1000 on books annually. Borrow books from the library or from your networks and save a small fortune!
Furthermore, collecting books that you’re unlikely to read again means you’re not only wasting resources but cluttering precious space in your home.
8. Choose digital magazine subscriptions
Choosing a digital magazine subscription over hard copy subscriptions not only saves you money since online subscriptions cost a fraction of the price, but there is less need for electricity, fuel, wood pulp and inks associated with producing, transporting and recycling physical magazine copies. The same applies to newspaper subscriptions.
You can also borrow magazines from your local library although this requires patience and planning as new magazine issues will likely be checked out or reserved by many.
9. Washable cloth diapers over disposable nappies
A baby uses up to six diapers in one day. A box of 200 disposable diapers costs about $60 and lasts about a month. Compare this with purchasing reusable diapers each priced around $20-60 and can be reused and washed for several years. Trading in your disposable diapers for reusable cloth ones could save you over $600-700 a year.
10. Buy a safety razor instead of disposable shavers
While the initial outlay will be about $45 much more than you spend on a disposable shaver which is roughly $5-10, where you will save is in the purchase of razor blades and in the environmental impact. A pack of 5 razor blades will cost just $3 compared with $10 for conventional. The material can be recycled compared with plastic covered replacements for conventional razors that cannot.
This basic money-saving zero waste list proves a point: that by being frugal and resourceful, you can lead a lifestyle of minimal environmental impact that doesn’t cost the earth. So do yourself and the planet a favour and make the switch. Respect your mother this Earth Day and use your hard earned cash on worthwhile experiences instead!
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