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15 Easy Steps To Save Money With Zero Waste ($5,337 A Year)

How To Save $5,337 A Year By Going Zero Waste - Almost Zero Waste

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Is it true that you can save money by living a more sustainable & low waste life? While some reusable items cost a bit more initially, you can save a lot of cash by avoiding various unsustainable items and practices.

To be exact, over $5,000 for just one year! Below, you will find 15 easy-to-follow steps to save money by going (almost) zero waste, including reusable products & sustainable alternatives.

Let’s jump right in!

15 Products & Ways To Save Money With Zero Waste:

1. Make DIY cleaning products 

A report showed that the average American spends between $50-$60 on cleaning products per month. That’s about $755 for household supplies yearly. 

Many of these cleaning products are single-use, filled with toxic ingredients, in plastic & pricey.

By ditching conventional cleaning supplies and making simple DIY cleaning products, you can save up cash. Here are some ideas:

  • DIY multipurpose cleaner – Making a DIY multipurpose cleaner is super simple. Mix ½ cup white vinegar, 2 tbsp baking soda, a few drops of essential oil, and a cup of water. Transfer to a spray bottle. The vinegar smell evaporates quickly, but substitute vinegar with vodka if you can’t stand it. 
  • Purchase multipurpose cleaning supplies in bulk – If you have a bulk shop nearby, look for multipurpose cleaning products. Just bring your container and fill it up. They are usually much cheaper, too. (I buy my dish soap shamefully cheap)
  • Eco-friendly sponges – Instead of buying synthetic ones that get nasty very quickly, you can get a loofah sponge & a bamboo brush

2. Avoid wet wipes

Buying wet wipes every couple of weeks doesn’t feel like you are spending a lot. But let’s make an estimation; if you spend $10 – $15 on wet wipes per month, that’s $120 – $180 per year. 

Instead, you can purchase washable cloth rags, that you can reuse over and over again. You can get reusable cleaning cloths for $9 – $19:

steps to save money with zero waste

3. Ditch trash bags 

You can find a pack of 100 plastic bags online for about $16, or 0.16 cents per bag. Using a new bag every second day will be $2.4 a month or $28.8 per year. 

Trash bags are not going to save you thousands of dollars. It will only save you a couple of bucks every month. However, plastic trash bags are treated as single-use products and can be overused easily.

Additionally, they are horrible for the environment – they cause pollution, from manufacturing to disposal, and aren’t biodegrade. Here are some ideas on how to avoid using plastic bags:

  • Make a DIY paper liner made from a newspaper. It is super easy – find out how to do it in my article, where I share 5 alternatives to trash bags.
  • Separate your trash – Have separate and reusable bags for paper waste, plastics, glass, and aluminum. Compost your wet waste (food scraps & wet paper). You can get something like this Triple Recycling Sorter bag on Amazon to separate your trash.

4. Ditch paper towels

common estimate is that a family of 3-4 people uses around 1.5 to 2 rolls of paper towels per week.

You can find 6 paper towel rolls for about $11.42 ($1.90 per roll). If you use 2 rolls per week, that’s around 8 rolls (or $15.2) per month and $182 for a year.

 In general, if you ditch paper towels, you won’t just save money. You will also save other resources, such as energy, water, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Switch to cloth towels; they are a great, cheap, and reusable option. You can check reusable bamboo towels or cut up an old cotton t-shirt into squares and use them as reusable cloth towels. 

5. Ditch menstrual single-use products

Women spend a lot of money on menstrual products. Let’s make a quick etimation. 

Tampons: On average, a woman has her period in 3-7 days. Changing it every 4-5 hours is recommended. Let’s say you change the tampon every 4 hours. 

1 tampon every 4 hours is ~ 6 tampons per day. 6 tampons x 5 days of a period = 30 tampons per cycle. 

2 packs with 32 tampons cost $12.49 or $0.39 per tampon. If we multiply this, it turns out that you will spend around $11.7 per month or $140.4 for one year

Menstrual pads: StayFree menstrual pads cost $8.07 for 36 pieces ($0.22 per one). It’s good to change a liner every 3-5 hours

If you change it every 4 hours, that’s 6 pads a day. 6 pads x 5 days of a period = 30 menstrual pads per cycle. That is around $6.6 per month or $79.2 per year

Here are some sustainable alternatives that will save you money:

  • Menstrual cups – They cost between $20 and $40, and it is seriously the best solution. My recommendation is Organicup (now called AllMatters).
  • Period underwear – period-proof undies hold up to 4 tampons’ worth. A pair costs around $30 (A pack of 3 = $92). Check Thinx or other similar brands.
  • Reusable menstrual pads – If you want to try them, look for thinner ones. I got thicker ones, which are not that comfortable and not good t for the summer. Check this set of 6 bamboo reusable pads or this one, which is a set of 10 reusable pads.
steps to save money with zero waste

6. Ditch aluminum foil and baking paper

You can find a roll of 30 square feet for $1.97 online. If you use 1 and a half per month, that’s $2.95 or $35.4 per year. To avoid wasting aluminum foil & baking paper, you can switch to:

7. Ditch plastic water bottles 

Americans purchase approximately 42.6 billion individual 1-liter bottles of water each year. (1) I did a quick online search and found a cheap bulk case of plastic bottled water – $2.23 for a case of 12 bottles, 16.9 oz or 500ml. 

Let’s make an approximate calculation: 

One case will last 3 days (if you drink the daily recommended dose of ~ 2 liters). Therefore, you will need approximately 10 cases per month. That equals $22.3 per month or $267.6 per year. And that’s just for one person. If we calculate for a family of four, the price jumps to $1,070 per year. 

To save money & stop wasting plastic water bottles, you can get:

steps to save money with zero waste

8. Ditch unnecessary personal products 

In 2017, The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that, on average, people spent $762 on personal care products and services.

Sounds too much? Well, that’s around $63 per month. There are many pointless beauty products, some of which can be expensive.

Living sustainably & low waste makes you more aware of your consumption patterns, and it often means reducing the things you need (+DIYing things).

steps to save money with zero waste

9. Less fast food & more food prep 

An estimation is that the typical American spends about $1,200 on fast food annually. That is around $100 a month and approximately $12.50 spent per meal. 

Eating fast food less frequently offers many benefits – you save money, eat much healthier, and reduce trash from packaged food. Here are some ideas that will help you to save money:

  • Farmers’ markets – By buying your food from there, you will support your local farmers and have a great choice of fresh veggies and fruits. 
  • Bulk shops – Buying in bulk is often much cheaper. You can get grains, seeds, nuts, spices, and other staple foods there. 
  • Meal prep –  Start bringing your lunch with you instead of eating out.
  • Store food properly – In the US and Canada, around 40 percent of wasted food is thrown out by consumers. Always try to empty your fridge before filling it out, and learn how to store veggies & fruits properly to keep them fresh for longer.

10. Buy fewer packaged snacks & sweets 

The average annual amount for packed snacks is $570 per year ($47 a month) for: 

  • Sugar and sweets – $143 
  • Cookies – $49 
  • Other bakery products – $165 
  • Ice cream – $59 
  • Potato chips and other snacks – $115 
  • Crackers – $39 

These snacks come in plastic packaging and are filled with refined sugars, fats, palm oil, additives, etc. To save up & eat better, you can make easy and delicious, wholesome treats, like fudgy brownieshealthy cupcakescaramel fudgechocolate chip cookies, etc. You can use more nutritious ingredients without compromising the taste.

11. Buy second-hand clothes 

A survey found that some of the most common reasons why most women shop for clothing are:

  • to cheer up or to feel they look good 
  • if they feel low or unattractive 
  • if they feel happy 
  • to impress others 

A statistic for 2017 found that, on average, all this impulsive shopping equates to about $152 per month. So for a year, that is approximately $1,833. 

The worst part is that most of these clothing pieces lay untouched in the wardrobe. Additionally, a massive amount of clothing is disposed of within a year of production, ending in a landfill. (1)

Some ideas to avoid wasting money on unsustainable fashion:

  • Second-hand shopping – A great affordable way to save clothing items from going to landfills. Check my article with the best online thrift stores worldwide.
  • Clothing swap – You can organize a clothing swap with friends. Ask each of them to bring clothes they don’t wear and have some fun by switching your clothing.
  • Sustainable clothing brands – Most sustainable clothing brands are expensive, but there are some affordable options, too. The point of slow fashion is to spend more for better quality but less frequently.  
  • Sell unwanted clothing – Another great way to eliminate clothes you don’t wear. In that way, you can return some of your money, too. Find the 23 best places to sell your clothes.
steps to save money with zero waste
Clothing Swap event I organized! Photo by Elif Valeriya Martinec, @leraworks

12. Ditch plastic razors 

Disposable razors are designed for one-time or short-term use. According to a report, 163 million consumers in the US used disposable razors in 2018.

Now, let’s quickly calculate. 4 Gilette disposable razor blades cost $5.97 ($1.49 each). They can last between 3-10 shaves. Of course, it’s hard to guess or be precise, but let’s say you shave 2-3 times a week. 

Usually, the best indicator to replace a disposable razor is when the blades feel dull, but it is recommended to use one disposable razor for not more than 2 weeks. 

So, for a month, that’s around 2 or 3 disposable razor blades. For a year (if one is $1.49), that’s between $35.76 – $53.64. 

Additionally, it doesn’t make sense to keep using single-use razors because they create a lot of waste and are challenging to recycle since they contain mixed materials (plastic, silicone, steel). 

To save money & prevent waste, you can get yourself a stainless steel safety razor & razor blades. It costs between $20-$40, and the replacement blades are super cheap – a pack of 100 is usually less than $10.

If you feel intimidated to use it – it is not that big of a deal. But if you are still worried – check my guide on how to use a safety razor without cutting yourself.

13. Get recycled toilet paper 

Saving paper is a common eco-friendly step, but have you ever considered your toilet paper usage? The truth is that we cut A LOT of trees to make toilet paper. 

It is estimated that Americans use around 2-3 toilet paper rolls per week. Let’s make a quick calculation with two rolls per week:

2 rolls per week = 104 rolls a year 

For a year, you will need 13 packs of 8 rolls like this one. A pack costs $16.69, so 13×16.69= $216 for 1 year. 

That number can go up since we often use toilet paper for other purposes, such as makeup removers, cleaning spills, cleaning mirrors, etc.

The low-waste alternatives will save many trees and resources, plus you can save up some cash –

Check my article for 18 eco-friendly & cheap toilet paper options, or read my review on Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper.

steps to save money with zero waste

14. Ditch cigarettes 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that, on average, tobacco smokers spend around $332 on Tobacco products and smoking supplies. Cigarettes are expensive and dangerous for you & wildlife.

Zero waste steps to save money:

  • Electronic cigarettes ($30-$50) – Not the best solution, but they are better for the environment & your pocket. 

15. Repurpose, reuse, and repair things 

Repurposing, reusing, and repairing items instead of buying new ones can save you a lot of money. It is hard to calculate how much you can save, but it can be anywhere from a few bucks a month to a few hundred dollars a year. Find a few ideas below:

  • Single-use cotton rounds → DIY reusable cotton rounds from an old t-shirt (cut in small squares, and keep in a small jar).
  • New fancy jars → Reuse the jars from foods that you buy. 
  • Damaged clothing → Sew the holes, or fix the buttons. 
  • Broken electronics → Before throwing it away, try to fix it. Search online and try to find a solution to your problem.
  • Shoes –> You can repair them to a local shoe repairman. 

Final calculation 

It is hard to calculate how much you will save or spend on zero waste alternatives because, as I mentioned, we live in various locations, spend differently, and have different options. 

But let’s make an estimation, just for fun. 😀

steps to save money with zero waste

As you can see, by making gradual, conscious decisions, you can positively impact the environment and save money. 

I hope that this article was able to show you that – 

  • There are almost always cheaper & zero waste alternatives. 
  • Zero waste living doesn’t have to be more expensive. 
  • By going zero waste, you can save a lot of money. 

Anyway, remember that this is a lifestyle change and won’t happen overnight.  Gradually start making the changes from this article, and give yourself time to get used to everything new. Slowly but steadily, you will be able to reduce your waste and save up each year. 🙂


  1. There are some great ideas here! Some we already do, like reusable water bottles. We also now use a SodaStream instead of buying canned soda water each week. Big reduction in cans, even though they are recyclable. We love cloth napkins at the table, and use rags instead of paper towel most of the time. I’ve been bringing reusable bags for shopping for years, but I recently bought mesh bags from Amazon to replace the thin plastic ones for fruits and veggies. Love them! A friend recently raved about those beeswax wraps, so that’s next on my list, to avoid single-use plastic wrap.

    1. Hey Kari! I didn’t know about SodaStream, I just checked it out. It looks pretty cool! I’m not a fan of fizzy drinks, but it is a great option for someone who drinks them often. But yes – small, gradual steps to more sustainable decisions its the way. I’m happy to hear that you enjoy the article. 🙂

  2. Wow! This seems like quite the challenge. Very impressive. We’ve tried going without tissues and paper towels but gave up after a few months. It’s not easy, much respect!

  3. Avoiding some of those products are so difficult. I hope to someday reduce my waste even further. Some things that we do right now include using a Divacup instead of pads/tampons, using reusable water bottles, and using safety razors instead of disposable razors. We’ve never used cigarettes before, so that’s not an issue.
    We’ve started a frugal challenge and once our household cleaners run out, we’ll start making our own household cleaning supplies. We do already have vinegar and baking soda, we just need to run out of our Method stuff to make it.
    Now that we think of it, we do have reusable kitchen rags that we can replace our paper towels with. I’ve added silicone mats into my Amazon wish list for future. This was a great list! I’m saving it for future reference.

    1. Hey, there. That’s already a good step further, with the Divacup, the water bottle, and the safety razor. Good job! I’m planning to make some quick & easy DIY household cleaners, so I hope they can be in good use for you, too. 🙂

  4. just wanted to come on here and say this post is super freaking helpful!! need to work on these cause ive been brainwashed to think i need to buy almost everything and its so unnecessary and wasteful.

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