I’ve come to realise that many a time, anything about reducing waste and avoiding disposable products seems to come with a lot of cost. You are then faced with the choice: cost to your pocket or cost to the environment. I don’t blame anyone for putting their own financial situation first (well unless you get paid millions- in which case you have no excuse)
It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many small things you can actually do without spending anymore money, and in fact you can still save money on top of the environment a lot of the time!
I started my journey on very little money, then shortly after I began my husband lost his job and so our income dropped even more (it actually dropped to credit card use as I was/am a stay at home mum), but instead of going back to disposable ‘cheap’ products I had to look outside the box for things I already had or could get even cheaper or free.
So I had already started making lunches for Mr M (a small price otherwise he would buy something while out which costs money and comes in packaging). I mainly did pasta salad or cous cous and put them in jars that I had kept from sauces and dips. These are other things I started doing/using:
- Always have a reusable bag with you!
- Keep sauce and dip jars wash and re-use for Leftovers, lunches, propagating scraps etc.
- Regrow your vegetables from scraps (you will be surprised how many you can stick in a jar of water and will root and continue to grow!)
- Make packed lunches for when out and about
- Grease pans and sprinkle flour or cornmeal on them rather than lining them
- Keep the paper from your butter for next time you need to grease something
- Switch to butter and make your own spread in a blender. I like this recipe it works out cheaper and avoids the plastic tubs spread comes in
- Swap paper towels for rags/napkins. You could cut up old sheets, clothes, towels (although you may need to sew the edges to stop fraying, if your not keen on this check charity shops for cloths and napkins)
- Swap dish sponges for rags/cloths (or loofah-which can be composted)
- Shower less- if you feel dirty try just washing with a cloth instead (washing less is actually good for your skin as the soap products you buy in stores strip the natural oil from your skin which it needs for moisture)
- Same for your hair! Look up ‘no-poo’ there is loads of information available how you can save time and money by washing your hair less (I actually only wash my hair every 2 weeks and don’t use shampoo- my hair is much healthier than it used to be)
- Try a ‘useful’ hobby- baking, knitting, gardening, vegetable growing, soap making. Keeps you away from internet shopping too 😉
- Buy what you need second hand- there are loads of ways to do this now- Facebook groups, charity shops, Freecycle, Gumtree, eBay
- Buy dried foods in bulk- most cities have food co-operatives where you can buy packaging free but if you don’t have one nearby 1 big bag of pasta is less packaging than 3 small ones
- Don’t buy snack size packs, buy a big pack and split yourself into small containers. Those jars you’ve been saving will be perfect.
- Clean and reuse your ziplock bags (they’re stronger than you think)
- Buy meat in bulk and freeze in smaller portions (re-use your plastic bread bags since most bread comes in plastic bags now anyway)
- Reduce your meat consumption. A lot more energy and resources go into producing meat and its harder to get packaging free.
- Keep food scraps and peelings and make your own stock (I’ll do a post on this soon)
- Swap your usual cleaners for distilled white vinegar and soak orange skins in it to give it citrus scent
- Buy a 5kg bag or potatoes and use one day to prep some homemade freezer chips, frozen mash, and even jacket potatoes! I will update with links to how I do this soon!
- When you feel your vegetables are coming up to the end of their life but you won’t use them in time, chop them and freeze them. Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower don’t require any prep beside chopping and freezing in a container or reuse bread bags again. Some vegetables may require a little prep (but I tend to use those before I need to freeze).
Comment your suggestions below and I will edit and add as I think of more too!