Two Items You Can Give up That Will Save You Hundreds

The Zero-Waste lifestyle has taught me just as much about saving money as it has about trying to limit my environmental impact and being a college student, I know a thing or two about having to be thrifty! Yet over the years I have found that as my consumer choices evolved, so have my spending habits. One of the most common misconceptions I hear about going “Zero-Waste” is how expensive it is, and while some items cost a bit up front, overall it can save you hundreds per year (which adds up!)

Here are two things you can give up that will save you hundreds

Water bottles

Why I no longer use them:

To keep this brief, because I could do a whole rant against the plastic water bottle industry, I will breeze over three key reasons why I no longer buy or drink from plastic water bottles.

1)Just because it's in a bottle doesn't mean it's safer than tap water

  • According to the NRDC, tap water is found to be safer than bottled. This is because tap water goes through more rigorous testing more frequently than bottled1.

2)Bottled water is MORE expensive

  • Compared to tap water which ranges from $0.002 per gallon, bottle water runs between $0.89 up to $8.26 per gallon and is on the rise[1]!

3) Bottled water is horrible for the environment

  • This one is a no brainer, but it takes 17 million barrels of oil a year and three times the water that it would be to fill it. Not to mention they end up in the garbage, waterways, and as pollution[2].

 How much you can save

  • The Average American buys 167 plastic water bottles, costing roughly $266 a year, within a lifetime you will be spending $17,290 when you could be saving that money by just one reusable water bottle[3] .

What I now use:

  • Funny story, my “first” reusable water bottle when I was a freshman in high school was a repurposed (and cleaned) glass vinegar bottle. Now I use a variety of reusable bottles, my preference is glass, but if you don't trust yourself that you won't drop it there are other materials such as, stainless steel, copper, or medical grade reusable plastic ones.
  • In my experience, you don't have to pay a fortune for a reusable water bottle, most people have mason jars around the house, or for example any food staples I buy from the grocery store are in glass (peanut butter, coconut oil, you get the picture) I usually just rinse them out well and voila, you got yourself a new water bottle!
  • The price for a new reusable water bottle varies from $5, $10, $20, and up depending on what you are looking for, and while this can seem to be a bit steep compared to the dollar and something you could spend on a plastic bottle, it is a flat one-time cost!

Paper towels and napkins  

Why I no longer use them:

1)Although Paper towels and napkins are compostable, they usually just end up in the garbage.

  • Unfortunately, besides selected cities in Washington, Oregon, and California most cities and towns cannot afford to implement composting systems like these, and so 3,000 tons of paper waste is hauled into landfills annually where it will generate large amounts of harmful methane gas[4].

 2)Producing paper towels and napkins requires A LOT of resources

  • It takes 110 million tree and 130 billion gallons of water a year, not to mention the amount of energy to process the trees, manufacture the product, and deliver them to facilities. All this trouble for something that will be used and tossed out in a matter of minutes[5].

3) It is expensive

  • As a frugal college student, I simply don't have the extra cash to be spending on “luxury items” such as napkins and paper towels, I literally see myself throwing away my hard-earned money.

How much you can save

  • The average family is spending at least $182 a year depending on the brand, in five years that is between $540 to $1,343[6].

What I now use:

I made my first set of cloth napkins from extra material five years ago, and I still use them to this day! If you want something fancy, there are so many vintage cloth napkins at thrift stores, you can purchase some lovely ones from sites like Esty, our website has a set of five for $5, or if you’re like me and don't want to spend a lot of money and don't care too much what they look like, you can make them yourself.

 For paper towels, I use these knitted granny square wipes my great grandmother made me and for the big messes I use old t-shirts or scrap fabric. Alternatively, cotton towels or “unpaper towels” work wonders and are easy to find as they are relatively affordable, natural sponges can also be used for spills and cleaning although I highly recommend cloth because it is versatile, beautiful, and easily washable.