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Zero Waste Living: 5 Budget Vs. Investment Options

Please note that this blog post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more. Also, this post has been inspired by Anita Vandyke of @rocket_science, who has been posting budget vs. investment options for zero waste living on Instagram; check out her account!

Many people find the zero waste lifestyle expensive. Up front it might appear that way, but if you follow the principles of a zero waste lifestyle, you should definitely be saving money!

When you start transitioning to a low waste lifestyle, you will discover that you already have everything you need. However, there may be a few items that you’d prefer to invest in. What you choose to do (use what you have or invest) is totally up to you.

Here are 5 Budget vs. Investment options for zero waste living! 

Also keep in mind: the investment option doesn’t necessarily mean new. Consider that you can buy many of the options below secondhand. Whether or not you purchase new or secondhand, evaluate the longevity of the item(s) you buy. Purchase for the long haul, and choose quality products. When you buy something that is high quality and built to last, you’re less likely to replace it, therefore saving the resources and money associated with making multiple purchases. 

Lastly, before we dive into these 5 options, ask yourself if you need anything in the first place. Reducing our consumption is one of the most eco-friendly and zero waste things we can do. 

1. Mason Jars

Budget: Sauce Jars

Next time you use up a sauce jar (any type! Spaghetti sauce, apple sauce, any sauce...a pickle jar), keep it! Wash it out and reuse it around the house. You can use jars for a variety of purposes: in the kitchen to store food; as a piggy bank; for art projects; to corral any loose objects in your home (think nails and screws, pens, etc.). This is a super savvy zero waste option! It helps keep existing products in use and out of our waste bins. 

Side note: When you choose to reuse sauce jars, you’ll probably want to wash them thoroughly with baking soda and water to get rid of any residual odours. The smell tends to come from the lid, so let the lid soak with a mixed paste of baking soda and water overnight. 

To get pesky labels off, soak the jar in warm water for a couple of hours. Then scrub off as much of the label as possible. If you can’t get the rest, make a mixture of baking soda and olive oil (equal parts of each) to make a paste and massage the paste onto the remainder of the label / glue. Let that sit for a few hours, then rub it off; it should be easy peasy! No smell + no label = good to go!

Investment: Matching Mason Jar Set

Getting a beautiful matching set of reusable mason jars is another option. Should aesthetics be important to you, purchase a set of jars that you know you’ll love and use. Buying mason jars is common for avid canners, too. You may also need to invest in a new jar (or more) if you can’t find the size you need from a reclaimed jar. Perhaps your cupboard will be a mixture of new and used jars! Do what suits you. 

2. Food Storage Containers for at Home and On the Go

Budget: Use What You Have

You probably already have a variety of reusable food containers in your kitchen. You may also have plastic baggies, plastic wrap, tin foil and other disposable food storage options. Use what you have as it won’t empty your wallet! If you keep takeout containers from restaurants, use those too.

If you use plastic to store your food, it’s worth learning more about plastic to stay informed. Check out the book Plastic Free by Beth Terry or Life Without Plastic by Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamondon to get all of the details you could ever want to know about plastics. These books may inspire you to reduce the amount of new plastic that enters your life!

For more tips on going zero waste, read the book and head to zero waste 101!

Investment: Tiffins, Jars, Glass Containers, Silicone Bags and Wax Wraps

If you don’t already have stainless steel tiffins, jars, glass containers, silicone bags or beeswax wraps and soy wax wraps for your food, you may want to make an investment in one or more of these practical food storage options. Tiffins, especially multi-tiered tiffins, are stainless steel and they’re convenient for carrying food on the go!

Jars and other glass containers are ideal food storage options if you’re trying to keep plastic out of your kitchen. Wax wraps are perfect for keeping food fresh, and they are lightweight for carrying snacks and sandwiches on the go. Silicone bags are food-safe and are an ideal reusable alternative to disposable plastic bags. The possibilities for reusable food storage options that you can invest in are many; find the ones you love!

3. Soap

Budget: Bar Soap

Inexpensive and easy to find, a bar of soap is a perfect zero waste option for washing all of the things. You should be able to find bar soaps for washing your hands, body, hair and even for shaving! Find a bar of soap that you love that you can buy locally and package free, and you’re set.

Investment: Glass Jar with a Pump

Should liquid soap be more your jam for washing all of the things, then invest in a beautiful glass jar and pump that you will keep and refill with liquid soap of all types. This option may be more limiting, depending on what refillable programs are available to you.  

4. Reusable Water Bottles and Coffee Cups

Budget: Use What You Have or Sit Down and Stay a While

Most of us probably already have a reusable water bottle or travel mug in our cupboards. Use what you have! And if you’re out and about without your reusable, take a moment to enjoy a glass or water or coffee/tea at a café. If you like to grab tea or coffee with friends, the most budget-friendly option is to have guests over for tea/coffee or go to their place. Not only is it easier on the wallet, you’ll also be able to use your own glassware and mugs. Win-win!

Investment: Buy the Fancy Reusable Water Botte and/or Coffee Cup

If you’re not inspired to use what you have for whatever reason (perhaps it’s not pretty, or it leaks, or fill in the blank), or perhaps you don’t have one or the other, then find a reusable water bottle or coffee cup to invest in that you know you will always use and reuse. The goal with zero waste living is to ditch the disposables and consume less, so once if you find something that will help you to follow through with this lifestyle, go for it!

5. Straws

Budget: Skip the straw altogether! 

If you don’t need a straw, then just be sure to remember to say ‘no straw, please’ next time you’re out getting a drink. 

Investment: A Reusable Straw

There are reusable straws of all types available now, from glass to bamboo and silicone, so you’ll surely be able to invest in a straw that you love. 

For more tips on going zero waste, read the book and head to zero waste 101!


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