Zero waste on the budget: 20 tips to save money without the trash

Everyone seems to be claiming that zero waste will save you money. Running off to buy fair trade bulk foods, organic veggies at the farmers market and neat reusables, you may soon realise you cannot afford this lifestyle. Bulk is supposed to avoid the packaging costs, but the food is usually of higher quality and you might not be used to the prices. It is not for granted that zero waste will save you money, but do not worry just yet. I think after awhile you learn how to save money precisely because of zero waste, just in other areas that you might have expected. I have been tracking my expenses for some time now and have learned how to do zero waste on the budget that works for me. Here is a list of ways to save money while avoiding the trash:

zero waste cherry


  1. Eat less meat and dairy. Following a plant-based diet is definitely a cheaper option. You will also save more natural resources by avoiding animal products than by avoiding plastic.
  2. Eat fresh food, it is definitely cheaper than buying the products. Do your own sauces, bread, juices etc. and you will save trash as well as costs. It does not need to be time-consuming either.
  3. Choose the right bulk foods. Beans, lentils and oats are cheaper than quinoa for example.
  4. Eat seasonal foods. Eating locally is not always cheaper, but eating seasonally is.
  5. . Grow your own food. I live in a flat so I cannot have a vegetable garden but I am planning to grow herbs. If you have a garden, compost can be used as a fertiliser.
  6. Take food with you. Make lunch at home and take a water bottle with you wherever you go. It is much cheaper than buying snacks and coffee-to-go.
  7. Do not buy food you do not eat on daily basis. It is too hard to find in bulk anyways.
  8. Don’t waste food. Shop organised, store properly and re-grow food scraps.
  9. Don’t buy junk food, frozen food, soft drinks, snacks, candy and other processed stuff that costs money and leaves trash behind.

zero waste lifestyle budget food


  1. Make your own cleaning supplies using ingredients like vinegar, soaps, lemons, baking soda or vodka.
  2. Make your own bathroom essentials. Quit shampoo, Q-tips, cotton buds, etc.

zero waste home alternatives


  1. Bring your own shopping bag, so you do not need to buy one at the store.
  2. Buy everything second hand and re-use what you already have.
  3. Choose access instead of ownership. Borrow books, cars, tools, costumes,…
  4. Fix stuff instead of buying new. Develop some skills and do it yourself.
  5. Reduce your belongings. Make money selling what you do not need, keep only the essential and downsize your flat to as much as comfortable.
  6. Buy food in jars, and reuse them. It is cheaper than buying the whole collection of jars because you might need plenty.
  7. Ditch the disposables by switching to reusable products, and save money in the long term. A menstrual cup will save you tonnes of money, really. You do not necessarily need to invest much either, some stuff can be repurposed like bags and cleaning rags.

zero waste home alternatives

General resources

  1. Think of travel costs. Biking, public transport, carpooling or long distance buses are a cheaper choice than flying or driving on your own.
  2. Save money by saving energy or water.

At this point, money saved on the disposables, cleaning supplies and bathroom products might as well be invested into the food of higher quality and practices that you support (as well as your health and well-being).


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