6 Tips to save money while going zero waste

It’s often thought that being sustainable also means spending more but we’ve found it’s actually a great way to save money – we wanted to share more of our ideas and ways to save while pursuing zero waste. We’ve written in the past about unplugging electronics and switching to LED bulbs can have an impact on your energy usage and your electric bill. These are just a couple of the easy ways to help you save money and be more sustainable.

Part of being sustainable is thinking through the ways you can reduce what you buy and reuse what you already have. With these things in mind, it’s easy to reduce the amount of money you spend, keep your house free of clutter, and live a healthier, more sustainable life. If you’re on a budget, or simply want to cut costs, look no further than this comprehensive guide to saving money by going zero waste.

Our top tips to save money while being more sustainable:

1. Make use of what you have

We often encourage people to reduce what they already have and think hard before buying something new. If you’re considering tossing old socks or shirts and they’re in too bad of shape to donate, consider repurposing them as dog toys, use them around the house as rags for wiping up messes, or use them to wash your car. Giving things a second life helps you save money and be more sustainable reducing your waste stream in the process.

There is no need to replace everything that you own with a zero waste alternative – in fact, that wouldn’t be very economically sensible. Instead, make good use of what you already own and only replace it once you absolutely cannot use it anymore.

There are a few exceptions – such as plastic water bottles – which you’ll want to replace earlier because they could be releasing microscopic plastics and harmful toxins into your water.

However, items such as plastic shopping bags can be reused until they break, before you purchase any new cloth reusable bags. Make sure you also use up any single-use items such as cotton swabs or kitchen towels (or give them away to someone who will use them), as throwing them away without using them would defeat the purpose.

2. Buy it secondhand

A brilliant way to save money and live a more sustainable lifestyle is by buying anything you need second hand rather than new. With how many items get thrown away nowadays when they’re still in great condition, buying pre-loved helps you prevent items from going to landfill. It also means that no materials had to be used to create the item, which is another environmental plus.

This goes both ways – don’t just buy secondhand, but also make sure to find a new home for any possessions you no longer need.

3. Invest in high-quality reusables

If you can’t buy an item second-hand, your next best option is to purchase a high-quality reusable which will last you for years to come. At first, this may seem counterintuitive if you’re looking to save money, but it’s important to think about the lifespan of the item.

This isn’t just true for zero waste alternatives such as water bottles or shopping bags – you should keep this in mind with any purchase that you make. Clothing, for example, can be deceiving. Seemingly, a very similar shirt costs $5 from a fast fashion brand and $30 from a sustainable label, which may lead you to believe that the fast fashion garment gives you better value for your money.

However, if you dive deeper and consider the cost per use, you’ll save much more money over the coming years by buying the sustainably made t-shirt, which is much higher quality and you won’t have to replace it for a long time.

4. Give gardening and composting a try

Composting is a great way to get rid of your food scraps. It reduces your waste stream, eliminating waste that would’ve ended up in the garbage dump decomposing anaerobically and producing the greenhouse gas methane. Compost can then be used in your garden to produce amazing fruits and vegetables saving you from spending money buying garden soil and soil additives. Read more tips and tricks on how to get started composting.

If you have a garden or a balcony, you can save money and the planet by growing your own herbs, fruit or vegetables. Not only will your homegrown produce be free of nasty pesticides and other chemicals, but it also comes without the packaging that most produce at the supermarket is sold and shipped in.

Gardening is also a wonderful hobby to help you get in touch with nature and explore sustainability from many different points of view, including zero waste.

5. Cook your meals from scratch

Pre-chopped vegetables and ready meals will cost you much more than a meal that you’ve cooked at home – and they also typically come in a lot of packaging. Whether you’re an experienced chef or cooking for the first time, get in the kitchen and whip up your own meal.

If you want to take this even further, another way to reduce your environmental impact and save money is to cook more plant-based meals and reduce your meat consumption.

6. Borrow before you buy

Before you buy anything, think about how much you’ll be using it and whether you could borrow it instead. There’s no need to buy a new dress for an event – you can always borrow it from a friend or even a dress rental shop. If you have a library near you, make good use of it with a library card.

It’s the little changes that add up to save you a lot of money – and significantly reduce your environmental impact – in the long run.

Aside from these tips being helpful to those looking to save money, it just makes good sense to conserve your resources – financial and other – whenever you can with a zero waste lifestyle.