Can you do Low/Zero Waste on a Budget?

Hi, and welcome back!

I really wanted to approach this topic of being able to ‘do’ Low or Zero Waste on a budget, after watching so many YouTube videos where people spend ridiculous amounts on changing over to a Low Waste lifestyle.

I really don’t believe that Low/Zero Waste, Ethical Consumerism and Sustainability are synonymous with spending a lot of money, however I wanted to make some important notes too.

Firstly, I want to point out that I am fully aware of my own privilege.

I live in a society with access to plenty of shops, I have the free time to visit different shops and source local produce, I have the financial means to do so and I am able to drive and have a car. I am well aware that these things alone put me in a better position than many others who attempt to live Sustainably, be that Low Waste, Zero Waste or in just general life.

So, with that being said…do I think that anyone can do Low/Zero Waste on a Budget? Well, the answer to that questions is: I believe that its possible for me, at this moment in time, in my current living situation.

If you are struggling with how to incorporate Low/Zero Waste living on a  budget, here are some tips that I have put together to help.

  1. Use what you already have. Forget how it looks on Social Media when you take a photo, just use the plastic you already have. Plastic lasts for years and years, so if you have already got plastic that is working well doing its job and the only issue is that it’s plastic, just continue to use it. The fact is, you’ve already bought it. Throwing it away to buy a more Sustainable replacement is not only wasting money, but it’s adding to pointless consumerism and plastic waste. Once it has broken or is no longer fit for purpose, you can replace it with a more Sustainable alternative.
  2. Make your own things. There are many things you can make yourself instead of buying. Examples are: toothpaste, laundry detergent, produce bags, tote bags, deodorant, cleaning products, reusable face cloths. Whatever you want or need to make, there is almost sure to be a tutorial on how to make it somewhere online.
  3. Join groups such as Freecycle. If you don’t already know what Freecycle is, it’s a website where people advertise things for free. I recently joined my local Freecycle and am AMAZED at what people were advertising for free. Dining tables, 3 piece suits, garden equipment, the list is endless. It’s also worth keeping an eye out on Facebook Marketplace, as occasionally you can find items for free too.
  4. Repurpose items. For example, every time I buy pre-made pasta sauce, I’m not only thinking of the contents of the glass itself, but also how good the glass would make as a drinking glass. Once I have used the pasta sauce,  I wash out the empty glass and use it as glassware
  5. Observe your needs. For many people (and I include myself in this), escaping the consumerism of our society s a huge reason for going Low/Zero waste. But if you are replacing all of your perfectly good plastic items with more sustainable items when you don’t actually need to, you are still buying into that consumerism. It doesn’t matter that what you are buying is ethical, sustainable, vegan, organic etc..you are still actively consuming it. This comes back to point 1 above, use what you have before replacing it!

Those are the tips that have helped me, so I hope you find them helpful too.

Let me know in the comments section how you stick to Zero/Low Waste or Sustainable shopping, on a budget!

Claire.