Going zero waste or plastic-free is often touted as a way to save money by simplifying. True, most people who go zero waste eventually spend less (you stop buying disposables month after month, for example), but the initial set-up for a zero waste lifestyle can be a touch spendy.
First, there’s the need to buy reusable items that will stand the test of time. Most people who begin their zero waste journey invest in a few items like refillable jars, cloth produce bags and hankies—all items that make living zero waste day-to-day a whole of a lot easier. But, they have a cost.
Second, bulk grocery goods (pastas and dried fruit from bin dispensers, for example) aren’t always the cheapest option. In some cases, you win out—saving a little cash where you would have paid for packaging. But in other instances, high-quality bulk goods just aren’t that much cheaper.
So, if you’re on a budget, take the following tips to heart. Going zero waste may not halve your expenses overnight, but you’ll gain in other even more meaningful ways in the long run!
1. Start small.
One of the best things you can do to save money while transitioning to zero waste is to start small. Start by purchasing only the essentials (this list is a great start) and spreading out other purchases over time. Remember: going zero waste is all about limiting consumption, after all.
2. Take a break from other shopping.
Set a clear intention to do no unnecessary shopping for an entire month. It’ll be tough, but rewarding, and can help free up some cash for zero waste purchases at the start of your journey. (More on that here.)
3. Avoid comparison.
Sure, everyone loves a gorgeous zero waste pantry complete with uniform glass jars and hand-stamped labels. But is that really necessary to get the job done? No. Avoid comparing yourself to people who are further along in the process than you. Right now, an empty jam jar and a collection of containers will do just fine.
4. Shop secondhand.
If this sounds cliche, consider us proud. We are huge proponents of secondhand shopping. It’s a cheap way to shop and reduces the consumption of new items – two things we are all for!
5. Substitute with what you have.
As much fun as it is to purchase that cute little travel set of silverware, odds are you have a few extra forks lying around that could serve the same purpose. Substitute for what you already have whenever possible. Make produce bags out of old t-shirts, use a cloth napkin as a nap sack and dive into the wonderful world of baking soda hacks. There’s always a solution.