I’ve been living a minimalist low-waste lifestyle for about eight years now and I’ve been consciously living this lifestyle for about five. When I say consciously, I mean I became intentional by establishing my “why” and living that out to the best of my ability. At the end of the day, I choose to live this lifestyle because doing so saves me money and time, is essential to my mental and emotional well-being, and it makes a positive impact on this beautiful earth we call home.
Today I’d like to share 10 simple steps I’ve taken to reduce waste and how you can too on the cheap! These steps are super simple (wink wink) and will make a huge impact in your wallet, your time, and the environment. Okay, let’s get started.
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R E U S A B L E S T R A W S: I made my first purchase of reusable straws from a company I found on Instagram. This was also the first purchase I made EVER from a company on Instagram. Turned out to be a scam. After messaging them like crazy and leaving several comments on EVERY post they had, I finally received my straws about 4 months later! Only to walk into a TJ Maxx about a week or so later to find a pretty decent selection of reusable straws. Ugh! I instantly became annoyed but also thrilled to find a pretty decent selection of reusable items for such an awesome price. The straws were much cheaper than what I paid and the quality was much better.
I know something so small may seem insignificant but I assure you it’s not. The use of plastic straws is so bad they are being banned and restricted in certain parts of the world. California is the first to enact a statewide law restricting the use of plastic straws, Seattle became the first city to ban straws. San Francisco previously passed a law of its own banning the use of plastic straws outright, it’s due to take effect this month. Meanwhile across the pond, UK Prime Minister Theresa May also proposed banning plastic straws. Straws were the seventh most common piece of trash picked up on beaches worldwide by volunteer cleanup crews associated with the marine conservation group Ocean Conservancy. And, Starbucks, which has more than 28,000 locations, announced plans to get rid of straws at all of its stores by 2020, and major hotel chain Marriott made a similar declaration.
R E U S A B L E B A G S: Duh, right? I know but I still have to include it. Know why? Because even though we know we should be using them doesn’t mean we actually do. So this also serves as a reminder. I know quality reusable bags can be pricy but guess what? TJ Maxx has those on the cheap too! Or, you can check Ross, Marshalls, or Amazon. I’ve also seen them at the 99 Cents Only Store. Not very stylish BUT does the job. Also, I suggest walking into your local grocery store and asking the manager or cashier for one. I bet they give you one…or two! It’s free advertisement for the store and it saves them plastic bags and money in the long run if you use reusable ones. Try it. Just ask.
In regards to reusable produce and bulk bags, I was able to find bulk bags at Sprouts for $.99 and produce bags for $2.49. Don’t have a Sprouts near you? Check your local grocery store and if you have no luck there check your local thrift store. You may find mason jars (for bulk) pretty cheap. Pillowcases also work well for produce and bulk. And, if you a crafty with a sewing machine you can cut the pillowcase and make a 2-3 bags.
Do you already use reusable bags but always forget them? I got you! Check out these tips.
R E U S A B L E B O T T L E S: Another duh, right? I know, but the key here is to get yourself a reusable bottle you love! Trust me it makes a difference. I have a water bottle that I call Blu and he goes everywhere with me. The mouth of the bottle is perfect (our lips touch pretty often throughout the day so this is important), he’s my favorite color, he’s the perfect size, and he keeps my water cold ALL day. I’m always so proud to show him off! He does his job well.
I also have a reusable coffee mug that is able to hold hot and cold drinks for up to 12 hours, but I’m not particularly fond of it. It was gifted to me by my husband and I was super geeked when he gave it to me. But, when I tried to put it in my car holder and the handle prevented it from fitting properly I was super disappointed. When I’m driving I place my hand on it when I make a turn so it doesn’t fall out. I’m sharing this with you so when you are purchasing your bottles you put much thought into it. Get one you absolutely love and fits your lifestyle.
Ditch the plastic bottles, paper cups, plastic lids, and cardboard sleeves! I found a huge selection of reusable bottles at TJ Maxx on the cheap (see video below)! I’ve seen them at Ross as well. And, of course, there’s always Amazon (this is the one I am currently using).
R E U S A B L E S A N D W I S H & S N A C K B A G S: These are a must in my home. We use these a lot. Packing lunches and snacks for outings with my kids is something I do often. We were going through zip lock bags like crazy. Although I tried to wash and reuse them as much as possible, I found myself buying extra more often than I wanted. I desired to buy reusable bags but every time I would look into it the price deterred me from doing so. And, then guess what? I found reusable silicone food bags at TJ Maxx for $5! They usually cost $10 or more per bag. I knew this was a deal and I pounced on it! What I like about these are that they are versatile. You can use them as sandwich bags, snack bags, leftover bags, freezer bags, baby food bags, breast milk bags, and more! So check for these at TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, and your local thrift store (you might get lucky because someone has upgrade). I also found some on Amazon for $8.99 for a pack of four if you want to check there.
R E U S A B L E H A N D T O W E L S & N A P K I N S: Okay, I have to confess. I have a bit of an obsession with towels. I use them A LOT. Let me break it down for you. I have three bathrooms and I like to change the hand towel daily (I have kids!). I do this for the hand and dish drying towels I keep in the kitchen as well. I also like to keep a towel out for wiping down counters and the kitchen table. Mmm-hmm, I change this towel daily. Then there is the towel we use for cleaning dishes. Yup, I change that daily too. What’s that, like 49 towels?
Then there are the bath towels I like to replace every two to three days for my family of four. That’s a lot of towels, huh? I know. Okay, maybe I don’t have a towel obsession but a little issue with germs.
Just think of all the waste that would be happening if I were using sponges and paper towels instead. Now think of all the money I’m saving by washing and reusing. I know this may seem like it adds more to my washing but it doesn’t. I just wash one large load of towels a week.
I get most of my towels from Ross (except bath towels. My husband prefers organic). I aim to get 100% cotton and make sure the quality is good and thick. I even found towels at the 99 Cents Only Store that held up pretty well. So, I recommend checking Ross, TJ Maxx, The 99 Cents Only Store, and your local thrift store.
M E N S T R A L C U P & R E U S A B L E P A D S: I’ve been using a menstrual cup for about three years now and I WILL NEVER GO BACK to using disposable tampons and pads. NEVER. I wish I had started using one sooner. But, it’s okay. I’m here now and I’m loving it. I have saved so much money over the years by choosing to reuse in this area. Now, I have to admit these can be a bit pricy but it’s totally worth it. I personally use The Diva Cup Model 2. I found this at my local natural grocery store so if you have one check there first. I prefer to buy locally when possible. It wasn’t cheap but I did find The Happy Cup that has great reviews, comes with two in a pack and is reasonably priced. I believe Walmart carries this brand as well if you want to check there.
Of course, do your research and do what works best for you. Like I said, I personally use The Diva cup but there are different models. So, if you go with that brand pick the one that works best for you. The Diva Cup Model 0 The Diva Cup Model 1 The Diva Cup Model 2
R E U S A B L E R A Z O R S: This is a recent purchase I’ve made and one I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time now. I hate that I’ve wasted so much money on disposable razors. They’re meant to be used a few times and then thrown into the trash and they’re not easily recyclable. And, if we continue buying them, companies will continue making them. Since most of them are made of plastic, that means continued use of fossil fuels for a product that will probably end up in a landfill. Or, you can invest in a safety razor ($11-$100), and get replacement blades for about $8 for a pack of 100. I use Astra Platinum Double Edge Safty Blades. The blades last for a month or longer if you dry them well between each use. And, the base should last you a lifetime.
The blades are stainless steel and are recyclable. You can get a tin can that has only liquid in it (like broth) from a grocery store, take a can opener and make a small slit (big enough for the blade to fit through without falling out, label it “Used Blades”, and put it in the recycler when it’s full. Should take a year or years to fill this up. Or, you can purchase a Razor Disposal Case for about $5.00, and when it’s full toss it in your recycler.
B A M B O O T O O T H B R U S H: This one is simple. Super simple (sorry I had to LOL!) Anywhoo, There are over 7 billion people in the world, most of which brush their teeth (I think. I hope) with a typical plastic toothbrush. What is overlooked, however, is that most of these people go through several toothbrushes a year, equaling an incredible amount of plastic waste in our oceans and landfills. But, bamboo toothbrushes have handles that are completely biodegradable, which means they won’t last forever in a landfill like every other brush! You can literally recycle the bristles, then throw the handle into your compost pile, where it will decompose naturally! You get a pack of 8 Biodegradable Natural Charcoal Bamboo Toothbrushes for $11.39 on Amazon. But, first, check your local natural grocery store if you have one or TJ Maxx.
C H A L K B O A R D P A I N T: I love chalkboard walls. I’ve painted two walls in my kitchen with chalkboard paint. I love it because it cuts down on the amount of paper we use, especially with a home full of artists. I also homeschool so I use it for teaching as well. I have also painted my kitchen table with chalkboard paint. We play games and keep score without using paper and the kids sit and draw while they wait for dinner. If you are not able to paint I recommend using Chalkboard Mate Vinal Decals. This is what I used on my kitchen pantry to write bible verses for the week, meal plan, write my grocery list, and let my son be creative.
S T A R T A C A P S U L E W A R D R O B E: Capsule wardrobes are my favorite! They are a collection of clothing that is composed mostly of interchangeable items to maximize the number of outfits that can be created. The aim is to be able to create an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. In the end, you save money, time, and energy. I talk more about this in detail here, here, and here. Your local thrift store is a great place to get started. You could also put together a clothing swap party or boldly ask friends if they have any items they’d like to donate to you in helping you build your capsule wardrobe.
Alrighty folks! That’s all I got for you today. Of course, there is more (much more) to low-waste living than what’s listed above, but I believe these are good starting points. When living a low-waste lifestyle quality IS key. This is to ensure that what you purchase will last for as long as possible. And, yes, this can be pricy when you’re just starting out. BUT, don’t let that stop you from getting starting. Get started the best way YOU can and get in the habit of living this lifestyle. S L O W L Y you will add better quality items in and donate those old items. You know, so you can help another person get started on the cheap!
Have any tips or anything you’d like to share? PLEASE do! Leave a comment below. I love feedback and just conversing with you guys.