How To Go Zero Waste On A Budget (You Can Do It Inexpensively!)

woman doing zero waste recycling

Now more than ever, we need to protect the planet and our environment. Whether you choose to cut back on traveling to reduce pollution, avoid eating meat to prevent overfarming, or you choose to go zero waste, there are many things that you can do.

The majority of people are apprehensive about switching to a zero waste lifestyle, as they are concerned about it being too difficult to maintain or too costly. Luckily, we’re here to tell you that this isn’t the case. So, what is zero waste living and how can you do it on a budget? Read on to find out!

What Is Zero Waste Living?

The Zero Waste movement, or Zero Waste lifestyle is all about being eco friendly. The goal is to reduce the amount of waste we produce as individuals and as humans on a daily basis, so that we are not contributing to the depletion of natural resources and ultimately our planet. 

The primary aim of this lifestyle is to commit to sending as little waste to landfills as possible. This is largely done by committing to reducing the use of plastic or food packaging waste, whilst being more conscious about the products, food, and drinks that we consume. 

In addition, within the zero waste lifestyle, you should be mindful of the amount of waste you throw away, and instead try to reuse old products, packaging, or repurpose them in some way to prevent the production of waste. 

The main reason that people choose to go Zero Waste is to significantly reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfills across the globe. This in turn, cuts down on pollution and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful to the planet.  

fruits and vegetables in cotton bag for zero waste

How To Go Zero Waste On A Budget

Zero Waste does not necessarily mean no waste. It is meant to mean reducing your waste until you have next to nothing in your trash. We know that some things can be difficult to avoid, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you have something made of plastic in your home. The point is to do your best to reduce your waste. 

To help you transition into a zero waste lifestyle, we have some tips for you. For example, we suggest using the 5 R’s to help you fight over consumption, which is a main contributor to waste. We buy things we don’t need or use, and they end up going in the trash or a landfill.

The 5 R’s are:

  1. Recycle – recycle items/containers/bags for later use instead of buying more
  2. Refuse – refuse items and products that you don’t need
  3. Reduce – reduce consumption of plastic/harmful products
  4. Reuse – reuse and repurpose items to not waste them
  5. Rot – create a resource from food waste by composting

Now, this may sound overwhelming at first, but there are small steps that you can take in order to go Zero Waste on a budget. It doesn’t have to break the bank.

zero waste food bags

Update Or Donate Old Clothes/Items

Rather than just throwing away old items, you can donate them to a charity store for someone else to use. Or, try offering them to a friend or someone in need. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so you can also try selling your old things/toys/products on platforms such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If they are not worth much, then simply offer them for free! 

In the same way, you can also purchase things or new clothes from charity organizations and from Facebook Marketplace. There are so many great finds, you could redecorate your home with all the vintage items and furniture there, without breaking the bank! 

Compost Vegetables / Grow Your Own

In addition to composting your vegetables to use in your garden, you could also try growing your own veggies and fruits! This can prevent you buying them from the store wrapped in plastic, or being sold in plastic punnets. 

Buy Local

If you can, try to purchase locally produced goods, or organic goods where you can. This not only supports local, small businesses, but it is more sustainable as items are not being transported from place to place or farmed. 

Reduce Water Usage

This is a big one, simply by cutting down on your water consumption, you can make a real difference. Take short showers if possible, and avoid using the bath as baths use so much more water that simply wastes down the drain! 

Make small changes such as avoiding the dishwasher as this utilizes a lot of water, when just filling up the sink uses much less water and you can use what’s left for feeding your plants too. In addition to this, you can collect rain water to use for gardening and watering plants instead of turning on the garden hose. 

Purchase Reusable Storage Containers

Reusable storage containers can really cut down on plastic. This means buying a few boxes for food containers, jars and water bottles that you can refill, and reuse time and time again. You can also try beeswax wraps for wrapping up food instead of sandwich bags or cellophane. They are long lasting, reusable and good for the planet. 

Make Your Home Eco Friendly

If you can afford it, invest in things such as smart meters for your home. This can help you reduce energy consumption, and it will cut down your energy bills too over time. If you’re on a budget you may not be able to install solar panels in your home right away, but it will cut costs down in the long run. 

If on a tight budget, then reducing the amount of time you use electricity and gas can also help keep things eco friendly. Make sure switches are off when not in use, and try to avoid using electronics excessively. 

loaded trash receptacle

Refusing Single Use Plastics

Grocery stores and supermarkets have been so used to wrapping everything in single use plastic that it can be hard to avoid sometimes. However, more and more are responding to consumer complaints, and are working hard to avoid using plastic bags for shopping, and single use plastic food containers. Try to bring your own, or shop in places that use recyclable containers and bags. 

Reuse As Much As You Can

Our world has become a consumer culture. It’s all too easy to just purchase a new outfit when your jeans get worn or your favorite tee starts to fray. Snap out of this mentality, and try to sew, repair and reuse things as much as you can. You can also repurpose old furniture if you want to freshen up your home by painting and decorating it. 

Try Food Waste Applications

There are an abundance of food waste applications at the ready where coffee shops, businesses and restaurants will offer leftover food that’s too good to go in the trash for discounted prices. 

This not only cuts down on food waste, but you can get some really good deals. These apps include Too Good To Go, and others such as OLIO that connects you to people in your area who have leftover food to share out. It saves you cooking a meal and is kind to your pocket!  

Best Zero Waste Choices

There are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to really reduce your waste and make a difference to the planet. 

Replace Facial Wipes & Pads With Reusable Ones

Facial wipes are disposable. When you think how many you may use a year as just one person, it can become worrying how much these things end up in landfills. Try reusable pads and facial wipes

Use Eco Friendly Shampoos & Washes

More people are choosing shampoos as bars to cut out plastic. Just make sure it’s natural and free of sulfates and harmful chemicals. You can find all natural solid shampoo bars almost anywhere these days.

Try A Wooden Toothbrush

Plastic toothbrushes are discarded very quickly, as the bristles do not last long. This means that they end up in a landfill for years, unable to break down. Try using a bamboo toothbrush, made of natural, biodegradable materials instead.

Buy Refillable Deodorants & Toiletries

Refillable deodorants reduce plastic waste greatly. They are eco friendly and sustainable, and can be incorporated into your Zero Waste lifestyle. We recommend trying Wild. 

Use Laundry Powder/Strips Instead Of Pods

Laundry pods are encased in plastic. Try using laundry powder or laundry strips instead. 

Try Going Meat Free

You can also try going meat free, or doing meat free days of the week. That can massively reduce overfarming of animals, which largely contributes to climate change. 

Get A Milk Delivery Service

Finally, we recommend using a milk delivery service (if you drink milk), as they often come in glass bottles that are dropped off at your door and collected and reused once empty. Not only this, but the milk is locally sourced to reduce transportation emissions, too. 


To summarize, going Zero Waste doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many ways that you can make small changes in your life that would make a big difference to the planet and sustainability. 

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