WASTE NOT Plastic containers can be reused for all sorts of things – from office-supply holders to kids’ art boxes.
Busting the myth that an eco-friendly life is more expensive
Choosing eco-friendly options in daily life is often perceived as being much more expensive and therefore beyond the reach of most people. Given the times we are living in, we are all concerned about how much we’re spending and how we can reduce costs and get better value for money we do spend.
The fact is that incorporating greener choices into our daily lives actually saves us consumers money. Let’s look at some cost-saving, eco-friendly ideas that you might want to consider.
One way to save money is to stop buying things that are destined to be used once and then binned: bin bags, water in individual plastic bottles, paper towels, wipes, cling film, disposable plates and cutlery, and more. This is, of course, also an eco friendly thing to do!
There are many creative ways to avoid all these items, mostly by reusing what you have. You could line the bin with newspaper, putting items in loose and washing the bin as necessary. You can use washable cloths — old clothes and sheets are good — for all kitchen and cleaning tasks. Why not use jars or containers you already have in the press for food storage, and just use the dishes, containers and cutlery you have at home when on the go.
It’s always worth having a second look at packaging before you chuck it into the recycling, as a lot of it could be reused around the home – for storing leftovers and homemade foods, propagating plants, storing seeds, organising office supplies, etc. That cuts out the cost of buying specific goods for those purposes.
There are benefits to choosing to buy eco-friendly options for the everyday things we use to too. Many of these goods are designed to last, and/or to have replacement parts.
Instead of buying a new brush for washing up, for example, I can replace only the brush head (it’s made from compostable wood and natural bristles) and keep the same handle.
My kids have used the same water bottles (we can replace the lids as necessary), lunch boxes and bags for at least three years, and I’ve gotten even longer from my own reusables.
I use a soap-saver bag (which holds any small bits of soap too small to use on their own) as a loofah in the shower, buy refills for dental floss and facial-care products, use washable cloths for cleaning my face and reusable period pants and a cup.
Before we make a purchase on a larger scale, from clothing to home goods, my other half and I think first about exactly what we want instead of wandering into shops to see what they want to sell us. This pause helps us avoid ending up with things we don’t love, or that don’t last, and helps us feel more satisfied with what we bring into our home and use on a daily basis – we don’t want to feel frustrated about the items around us, especially if they are not made to last (nothing is worse than constantly replacing something!).
We often check for secondhand options first too, sometimes asking friends or family, looking on DoneDeal or in Facebook groups, and checking charity shops. Borrowing from or swopping with friends and family members has turned up some great items and big savings over the years. Or, we save up for the exact item we know we will appreciate, and make it last by caring for it properly to keep it in great condition.
It might be worth trying some of these ideas in your home – you’ll feel good about cutting down on waste, and you’ll save money while you’re at it.
McKinley Neal is the owner of PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal-care items and gifts.