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How to Go Zero Waste on a Budget? Saving Money and the Planet.

Written by: Hendrik

Category: Zero Waste, Lifestyle

Updated on:


Have you thought of going on a zero-waste journey, but you find your wallet resisting? Well, you are not alone. When starting out on your zero waste journey, you may feel a little overwhelmed or even discouraged just by visiting a zero waste store.

Although zero waste living seems like a constant struggle between saving your money and the planet, you can still go zero waste on a budget.

The zero waste movement should not be expensive, especially because zero waste living encourages minimalism.

So, if you are on a tight budget (many of us are, especially with this economy), do not be discouraged to join the zero waste movement. Going zero waste on a budget is very possible.

Here are some benefits of going zero waste.

  1. The environmental benefits of zero-waste living include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction, and resource conservation.
  2. The impact of consumer choices on the environment and the role of individual actions in creating a more sustainable world.
  3. Strategies for reducing waste in specific areas of daily life, such as food, household products, personal care items, and clothing.
  4. The role of government policies and regulations in promoting zero-waste practices and supporting sustainable production and consumption.
  5. Supporting and promoting small businesses and ethical production practices in the zero-waste movement is essential.
  6. The benefits of incorporating zero-waste principles into daily life include improved health, reduced clutter, and increased sustainability.
  7. Ways to educate and inspire others to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle include sharing information and resources, participating in community events, and advocating for policy change.
  8. The role of community and social support in the zero-waste movement includes sharing resources and knowledge, collaborating on projects, and building supportive networks.

Learn more about the benefits of going zero waste and why it matters even more in 2023.

Why are zero-waste products expensive?


You may have noticed that zero-waste products are often more expensive than their traditional counterparts. This is due to a variety of factors.

For one, zero-waste products are made with higher quality and more sustainable materials, which can be more expensive to source and produce. They are made to last longer, unlike their cheap counterparts.

These products are also often made in small factories, where the brands prioritize paying their worker’s fair wages and maintaining ethical working conditions. Additionally, many zero-waste products are handmade or produced in small batches, which can increase their cost due to the added labor involved.

Another factor contributing to the higher cost of zero-waste products is the lack of mass production and economies of scale, as these products are not produced in the same quantities as traditional products.

While zero-waste products may come with a higher price tag, the long-term benefits for the environment and the ethical production practices make them a worthwhile investment for many consumers.

12 Cheap & Easy Tips for Reducing Your Waste - Sustainable Zero Waste Hacks

Can you save money with zero waste lifestyle?

Since zero-waste products are slightly more expensive than normal products, the zero-waste movement is considered to be for some privileged folks who have already met their basic needs and have a surplus to access more options.

However, you do not need to have a lot of money to reduce waste in your life. You can care for the planet in many ways, even with a limited budget.

Read on to discover some great tips that you can use to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle while on a budget.

Tips to go zero waste on a budget

Going zero waste on a budget requires some planning and creativity, but it is definitely possible. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Start with what you already have

zero waste on a budget

You want to join the zero-waste movement and have a list of those fancy zero-waste items you want to buy. It’s all beautiful until you realize how much money you need to buy all those items.

Well, what if I told you that you don’t necessarily need all those items to start? You don’t need to be perfect to start.

Do you have a couple of plastic toothbrushes in the house? Use them up before getting the bamboo toothbrush. Finish the packet of menstrual pads or tampons before buying that menstrual cup. Don’t throw away anything until it has reached its useful end of life.

And I know you would love to get the mason jars, but if you have a few glass jars from a salad dressing or pasta sauce, why not reuse them? They may not be as lovely as what you see on Instagram, but you get to save some coins and enjoy a low-waste lifestyle simultaneously.

Alternatively, if you already have mason jars learn how you can freeze anything in your mason jars.

2. Start saving for what you need

alternatives to the plastic bottle

While you are using the items, you already have in the house, as we have mentioned in the first point, start saving for the items you want to buy.

Make a list of the zero waste swaps you’ll need, determine how much you need to save, and then find out how long it will take to finish the disposable items. With this, you can calculate how much you’ll need to save every month.

By the time you throw away the disposable items, you will have saved for the eco-friendly alternatives you wish to buy. At least you will not feel the pinch in your wallet since you saved for them.

The good thing about investing in zero-waste items is that you get to save money in the long run since they are made to last long. A menstrual cup, for example, will last you more than five years a safety razor can last a lifetime.

Here are some additional tips for going zero waste in your bathroom.

3. Repurpose and Reuse

One of the most budget-friendly ways of sustainable living is learning how to repurpose or reuse items that would otherwise end up as trash.

Do you have some old pillowcases or extra fabric that you no longer use? Sew them to make produce bags or cut them up to make cloth napkins. Don’t throw away your pasta jars; you can convert them into reusable containers for bulk shopping.

Keep the boxes and packaging materials that come with deliveries for wrapping gifts, or even use them when moving houses. Cut up an old t-shirt or towel and make rags for any cleaning.

With just a little creativity, you have endless options for reusing and repurposing different items. You can also find numerous ideas on Pinterest.

4. Buy in Bulk

plastic free shopping

Buying items in bulk is a great idea for saving money and reducing the amount of packaging that comes with most products, thus creating less waste.

However, please note that sometimes it can be expensive to buy items in bulk, so you need to buy only what you need to avoid creating waste. Buy items that will last longer without going bad.

If you are lucky enough to have a bulk store or zero waste shop nearby (a privilege not many of us enjoy), you can shop for anything in refillable and reusable containers.

You can also find groceries at a local farmer’s market, which are always cheaper than at the supermarkets and with minimal to no packaging, which is a plus.

When buying food items or other perishable goods in bulk, ensure you store them properly to avoid food waste.

5. Shop Local

farmers market

Locally produced food is fresh and contains more nutrients, which is a plus for your health. Another benefit of shopping locally is that you can avoid plastic bags by carrying reusable shopping bags to the store.

Shopping locally also helps minimize the carbon emissions that come with shipping goods and boosts the local economy while saving you some money.

6. Make your own food.

freezing mason jars

The average American spends around $1200 annually on fast food, which is approximately 10% of their income. I know fast food is convenient, saves time, and sometimes tastes good. While many think junk food is cheaper, it is relatively expensive compared to making your food.

More so, junk food comes with a lot of unnecessary packaging, and regular consumption poses significant health risks to your body. Unless junk food is the only option (for the few of us who have no access to grocery stores), prepare your own meals and save the extra money for other uses.

You don’t need to be a chef to make delicious meals. Look up recipes online or from a cookbook in your local library.

Next, create a meal plan to simplify your routine and avoid the stress of deciding what to prepare for dinner every night. It will also help you avoid buying unnecessary items and prevent food waste.

7. Shop Secondhand

Want an extra pair of shoes or pants? Why don’t you try and find it in a second-hand store before rushing to your favorite fast fashion store? You’ll be surprised that you can get the same product at a fraction of the price.

Shopping secondhand is not only budget-friendly but also eco-friendly. It helps maintain a closed loop and minimize waste that goes to landfills.

You don’t even have to buy brand-new mason jars when you can find them in a thrift shop for even less than a dollar.

8. Grow your herbs and vegetables

Another smart way to save money when going zero waste is to start a garden. You can grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs in your backyard, balcony, or local community garden. You can even grow some plants indoors hydroponically.

Though gardening will get your hands dirty, you’ll experience the fulfillment that comes with growing your own items and interacting with mother nature.

And of course, we can not forget composting. Essential to anyone that started with zerowaste. Learn how and what to compost in this article.

9. Try DIYing


Sustainable products, such as cleaning products, come with a higher price tag, while conventional counterparts contain harmful chemicals and are unsafe for the environment. This is where DIY comes in.

Learn how to clean almost anything with white wine vinegar here.

Well, I know that DIY is not so appealing for some people, plus it costs time. But if you can, go ahead and start making your own products, and you’ll be surprised at how much money you can save.

From cleaning essentials to beauty products and even clothes, you can make anything as long as you have the basic procedures, which you can easily find online.

However, you may realize that the cost of buying the ingredients at the beginning may be higher, but in the long run, it is cheaper than buying sustainable products from the shops.

10. Find sales or coupons

While it is easier to find sales at regular supermarkets than at zero-waste stores, it’s good to stay on the lookout for when they come.

Follow the social media pages and sign up for newsletters of your local zero waste shops so that you get notified when they are having a sale.

Even if there are no physical zero-waste shops near you, online zero-waste stores such as EarthHero and Zerowaste Store run regular promotions that you can take advantage of.

Better still, please take advantage of my discount codes to shop for your favorite zero-waste products from sustainable brands at reduced prices.

11. Make your routines simple

Another underrated hack for any zero waster is simple routines. Simplifying your routines not only saves you a huge chunk of money but also helps you reduce waste.

What is your skincare or makeup routine? Is your closet cluttered? You don’t need many products or 20 pairs of shoes to look good. Keep your routines simple by minimizing the products that you use daily.

Find multitasking products, such as a reef safe moisturizing sunscreen which you can use as a sunscreen and moisturizer, to save money and time.

Minimalism and zero waste go hand in hand.

12. Travel sustainably


There are several ways you can save money and the planet while moving from one place to another, whether traveling for a vacation or just moving around.

First, taking a walk or riding a bicycle is free and good for your health.

If you are driving for errands, plan to combine your trips. This saves money and time and lowers your carbon footprint with reduced emissions.

Use public transport to save on gas and avoid getting stuck in traffic. Do you have friends or neighbors who work in the same area? Consider carpooling.

If you are considering buying a car, consider electric or hybrid vehicles, they are cheaper than gas cars in the long run.

Final thoughts

Zero-waste living is not about the amount of money you have; it is more about having the right mindset. With a little creativity, you can spice up your zero-waste life even when you are on a tight budget.

Also, do you have a friend, colleague or relative who is also going zero waste on a budget? Gift them a fancy zero waste item, like a reusable water bottle or a mason jar gift for their special occasion.

What are some of your best tips for going zero waste on a budget? Let me know in the comments!

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Hendrik Kaiser

I've studied biology and lived for 3 years on an off-grid permaculture farm. I love kitesurfing and keeping my body healthy and fit. Hence, I care so much about keeping our environment clean and being as zero waste as possible. Being a zerowasteman is a superpower everyone has inside of themselves, and I want to teach you how you can unleash it.

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