10 Ways to Save Cash by Purging Your Place of Plastics

By Ashley Marcin on 13 October 2014 0 comments

We've all heard a lot of bad stuff about plastics over the years. Anything from plastic bottles leaching BPA or other hormone disrupting chemicals into food and drink to the harm plastic bags have on the environment as they pile up in landfills and oceans. (See also: Cash for Trash: Making Money Recycling)

If you've ever considered heading down a less plastic-y path — no matter the reason — start here with some sound tips for consuming less. It could even save you money.

1. Give Up Bottled Water

Not only is bottled water remarkably more expensive than the H2O you get from the tap, it comes in plastic bottles, creating a ton of waste you need to deal with after you sip. Instead, pick up a glass or metal water bottle that you can reuse again and again. (See also: Bottled or Tap: The Right Choice Might Surprise You)

2. Eat Whole Foods

Another way plastic makes a sneaky appearance into our homes is through the packaged foods we buy at the grocery store. Most whole foods (fruits, vegetables, meat) come with little or no packaging, so stock your cart with them. Otherwise, make condiments, breads, and other pantry goods from scratch whenever possible to save on both waste and money. Once you get the hang, it's not as difficult as it sounds. (See also: 35 Grocery Items You Should Make At Home)

3. Bring Your Bag

While you're at it, always bring reusable bags to the grocery store or skip them entirely. I shop at Aldi, so if I forget my canvas bags, I get charged for new ones. Talk about incentive. So, I go around the aisles and pick up a few cardboard boxes to carry my food. If you do have quite a stash of plastic bags, recycle them. (See also: 21 Disposable Products You Can Reuse)

4. Try Cloth

Whether it's for diapers or sandwich bags, there are options that can help steer you away from plastic. Try some of the many cloth alternatives to everyday plastic products we consume. Though buying these items in cloth is a bigger investment initially, you can use them for years to come and eventually break even (or save money). In the case of cloth diapers, you may even be able to resell ones in good condition and get back the bulk of your dollars.

5. Use Glass

In the kitchen, my favorite plastic alternative is glass. I have Ball jars of various shapes and sizes that I use in place of plastic baggies for freezing foods. Some tips:

  • Let foods cool completely before freezing;
     
  • Leave 2-3 inches of headroom for soups and applesauce that might expand when frozen;
     
  • And handle carefully to avoid breaking.

Additionally, we have a shelving system for all our bulk foods that are stored in — you guessed it — Ball jars. Oh, and I also put my leftovers in them versus covering with plastic wrap.

6. Concoct Your Own Cleaning Products

If you make eco-friendly cleaners from scratch, you'll keep a load of plastic out of your home on bottles alone. My favorite all-purpose spray is just half a bottle of vinegar with half water and 10-20 drops of my favorite essential oils. You can even make your own laundry detergent for pennies on the dollar with water and castile soap — here are five simple detergent recipes to get you started. (See also: 8 Green Cleaners You Already Have in Your Home)

7. Eat In

A ton of waste is created when we get foods to-go. Between plastic containers, utensils, and bags, it piles up, and fast. So, if you want to enjoy food out, take the time to have a sit-down meal. Better yet, save your cash and cook your meal at home or pack your lunch for work. Here are some packable lunch recipes to get you started. (See also: 10 Tricks to Keeping Your Kitchen Clean While You Cook)

8. Examine Personal Care

Yes — most of those products and potions you use to clean and care for yourself are clad in plastic. They also contain some ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. You can try the no-shampoo method of washing your hair using baking soda and an apple cider vinegar rinse. I recently made my own DIY lotion cubes custom for my sensitive skin using shea butter, beeswax, and coconut oil. And homemade deodorant really works — trust me! (See also: 5 Hair Conditioners You Can Make At Home)

9. Buy Less and Repair

Rather than immediately toss a broken plastic item and buy new, try to repair it. Or just buy fewer plastic things in general. Much of what we purchase isn't terribly essential anyway. If you do need to buy something, consider second-hand versus new. Check Craigslist, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and more. You can save additional plastics from ending up in landfills this way (and keep some cash in your pocket).

10. Start Small

If you're committed to living with fewer plastics, you can become overwhelmed when you see how much of our lives is literally wrapped up in the stuff. So, pick a room or purpose and start from there. You may want to give the worst offenders the boot first. Generally speaking, numbers 2, 4, and 5 are safest. Avoid the rest. Remember: Any move away is in the right direction for your health, your wallet, and your planet.

What are you doing to use less plastic? Please share in comments!

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