One of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable living is that it’s expensive. While aspects of this can be true, many zero waste swaps can often be done for free or with a small investment.
There are items that may require some initial investment, but they usually pay for themselves within a few months. I’m going to go through the different areas of my eco-friendly life and home to talk about the swaps I’ve made and how much they roughly save me each year. And of course, I need to say that the term zero waste is more about the journey than the destination. It’s nearly impossible to actually be zero waste, so I use the recognisable term when talking about lower waste and reducing environmental impact. Let’s get into it, eco friend!
Sustainable living food swaps
Food is often one of the biggest expenditures for most households. Conventional supermarkets have expertly plastic packaged just about everything into portions to maximise their profits. Did you know that around 10-15% of the cost of pre-packaged items is due to just the packaging alone? Buying loose where you can is the best way to go for the planet and for your bank account. Not only do you avoid single-use plastic packaging that’s often not widely recycled, but you save money too.
I take my reusable produce bags to the supermarket when I need fruit and veggies which sometimes give me a saving per kilo compared to buying plastic packaged produce. Although some sneaky supermarkets make it the same cost or even more expensive to do this, in which they receive a strongly-worded email from me and a call out on an Instagram story. Let’s say this saves me a lowly pound for each shop which comes to £52 a year.
Last Week’s Episode: Which non-dairy milk is the most sustainable?
Next is the bulk shop. My all-time favourite activity of zero waste living. I’m so fortunate to have an organic bulk shop near me when you pay per 100g for dried goods. The prices are lower by weight when compared to supermarkets and are even usually lower than Amazon. I try to buy dried legumes, seeds, nuts and other cupboard stuff here. I estimate that I save about £3 per week doing this which comes to a yearly saving of £156.
I’ve also left buying meat behind for environmental and savings reasons. Taking meat from my personal grocery bill each month in favour of legumes, tofu and the occasional veggie substitute has seen my grocery bill drop by about £11 per week, which is a saving of £572 annually.
Finally, I’ve been getting into buying reduced items at the supermarket. Not only is it gratifying to know these perfectly edible items aren’t going into landfill, but I save a bunch of money. I generally buy a stack of freezable reduced items such as pizzas, meat substitutes, ready-made meals, pre-cut veggies etc and chuck them in the freezer when I get home. While this might not technically be zero waste because of excess plastic packaging, it is preventing food waste which is even more important.
No tox cleaning swaps
Growing up, my mum didn’t really believe in conventional cleaning products. She didn’t use a vinegar spray, but she did know that you don’t need a separate cleaning product for every single surface and room of the home and that it’s mostly just marketing. She’d have a single bottle of bleach that she diluted in a 10-year-old spray bottle and use that to clean the whole bathroom.
My mum would use a drop of dishwashing liquid to windows and floors – this can make floors slippery though so be careful if you’re trying this at home. She’d use soap flakes in a cardboard box instead of washing liquid for laundry. For special occasions she’d bring out a tub of marble polish paste concentrate that she’s literally had for 15 years… I’m not even exaggerating, we were laughing about it over video call the other day… and this tub of paste is still working just fine. That’s why concentrates are so good. Luckily now she’s aware of the environmental impact of bleach and has swapped to my CONCENTR8ED cleaning eco bars instead.
Try a CONCENTR8ED Bathroom Cleaning Eco bar FREE
However, when I started living out of home, I rebelled and wanted to own all of the cleaning products that my mum would never buy because she said they were a waste of money. Spoiler alert, she was right. I had every spray and fragrance and aerosol. Then, I discovered many made me feel nauseous and irritated my skin.
My cleaning routine is pretty much solely made up with my cleaning eco bars. The eco bar cleaning set replaces around 3 bottles of bathroom spray with the bathroom eco bar, 3 bottles of kitchen spray with the kitchen eco bar, 3 bottles of dishwashing liquid with the dish eco bar and cleans about 20-30 laundry loads with the laundry eco bar. These bars usually last me 3 of weekly cleaning and regular dishwashing and laundry. In comparison to using plastic bottled liquid products which would last 4-6 weeks, I save about £48 a year and a whole lot of toxic chemicals.
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Sustainable living personal care swaps
I was once upon a time a gal who was obsessed with buying make up, skincare, hair products you name it. Mostly it was due to just being a hyper consumer and being addicted to YouTube makeup tutorials and hauls. Now I try to be a minimalist in personal care routines.
I’ve gone from buying a hair care product each fortnight to using up everything that I have. I’m still getting through bottles 3 years later. I make my own dry shampoo. Hair masks and creams that are full of silicones are no longer part of my routine. I’ve also swapped to the shampoo eco bar because liquid shampoo is 80% water. One eco bars lasts me 3 to 4 months. These swaps save me £84 per year.
I’ve swapped buying monthly liquid face cleansers to the CONCENTR8ED face eco bar which is only £10 and lasts about 9 months with twice-daily washing. This saves me about £19 a year. I honestly used to buy a new piece of makeup weekly. Now I buy the Lily Lolo mineral foundation refills, have had the same eyebrow palette for 3 years and buy a new mascara each year. This saves £182 annually. Switching to reusable menstrual products is a great way to save money too. Previously I spent about £5 a month on disposable period products. Now that I have a menstrual cup that can last for 10 years, I save at least £60 a year.
Eco Action Step:
Let’s show our communities how beneficial a zero waste journey is for the planet and our bank accounts. Take 5 mins to add up the sustainable living savings you’ve made in the last month, year or couple of years. Add it to your Instagram story or put it in a post. Don’t forget to tag me!
This episode is part of a 3 part series:
- How I save £2500+ per year with sustainable living (2/3)
- How I save £2500+ per year with sustainable living (3/3)