When I talk to people about recycling or reusing, the number one responses I get are as follows:
- “I don’t have the money to spend on buying new items.”
- “I don’t have time to think about that.”
- “It’s too convenient the way things are.”
I, myself, had those exact concerns when I first started thinking about changing my single-use plastic lifestyle. I was so used to just grabbing the “on the go” items such as coffee filters, dryer sheets and plastic ziploc sandwich bags just to name a few.
First of all, let me start by saying that we as humans can be incredibly lazy; and why shouldn’t we be? We have everything offered right at our fingertips! I agree that reuse can become time consuming and inconvenient. Changing your daily lifestyle can be challenging, but the impact on our environment and waterfall effect that you will create from doing so, is much more rewarding than the instant satisfaction that you get by using single-use plastics.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
On average, an action takes roughly 3 weeks to become habitual. Once you’ve changed your habits, you can change the way you think. Is it time consuming? Maybe, but to answer the first concern of expense, maybe not.
Here are 3 reuseable items that you can start using immediately that will help the environment and save you money in the long run.
(photo by Walmart.com)
Reuseable Coffee Filters
You can find these at your local grocery store. I was able to find mine at my local Food Lion. Think about how often you change your coffee filter. I will guess that it would be every time you make coffee, which is probably daily. Even though some coffee filters can be biodegradeable, most are made of paper, and the every day use and added cost is totally unnecessary.
A standard pack of 60 filters costs between $3 and $7, depending on which brand you choose. A reuseable filter can cost as low as $5, but can be reused again and again and again! To do the math, your $3 paper filters would cost you about $18 a year and the $7 filters would be about $42 per year. A reuseable filter’s average expected lifetime is between 7 to 10 years! That’s almost $300 in savings right there!
You will be helping the envrionment when using reusable coffee filters by reducing your use of paper, saving more trees from being cut (and typically not replanted), and reducing pollution in our oceans since some filters are made with non-biodegradable material.
(photo by Amazon.com)
Found at stores like Walmart, Kroger, Target, and of course Amazon, these balls can replace your monthly purchase of dryer sheets and fabric softner. Dryer balls work to separate your clothing in the dryer to allow warm air to flow through more freely while also reducing static. You can find them in wool or plastic, bright colors and with cute designs! I found a two pack with a blue and grey adorable fish design.
Dryer balls have an average life span of 2 to 5 years, or about 1,000 cycles. After use, they can be recycled or make a cute toy for your pup! Dryer balls can also replace the need for fabric softner, which alone can save hundreds of dollars per year. The average cost is around $8.50 for a pack of 6 wool dryer balls, and around the same cost for two plastic ones.
Dryer sheets on average cost $3.97 for a pack of 80 (it could be a little less for cheaper brands), and a pack lasts around 8 months if you are using the dryer twice a week, washing between 2 to 3 loads, and only using one sheet per load. This calculation is going to vary based on each family, how many loads of laundry you do per week, how many dryer sheets you use, and if you also prefer to use fabric softner. So in a year and half by using reusable dryer balls, you will recoop your cost of dryer sheets, help the environment, save money on energy costs from using less time needed on the dryer, and also save additional money that would have been spent on fabric softner.
(photo by Russbe.com)
Reusable Storage Bags
We are talking about replacing sandwich bags, freezer bags, plastic wrap, plastic tuppeware, etc. I was so excited to find reuseable plastic bags and paper wraps to replace all of these items! We all should know how awful single-use plastics are for the environment. They end up in our oceans, killing marine life. Plastic can pollute the water we drink as well, or get picked up by birds and other wildlife.
Now you can find many different solutions to replace your plastic storage bag use (beeswax paper, tuppeware containers, glass jars and aluminum foil to name a few), but for this calculation I’m going to use the reuseable plastic and silicone sandwich bags I found online through a company called Russbe.
The popular known brand, Ziploc has a 90 count sandwich bag which costs $3.97 per box. Cheaper brands are usually under $2 per 90 count box. Let’s say you want to be on the conservative end of things and use a knock-off brand at $2 per box. If you are conservatively using 10 bags per week (that’s 2 per day of the work week), your box will be used in 9 months. You can purchase reuseable sandwich bags for $7 on average (5 pack or 2 pack depending on brand) which can last you upwards of 15 years!
Most importantly, by using items like these, you will be making a big impact on the environment, reducing the billions of plastic particles that end up in our oceans each year, and not contributing to unnecessary cutting of trees. Saving money is just a bonus! If you’d like to conveniently purchase any of the replacement items above, you can find them on Amazon or you can use my personal link under “Clean Home” (#ad).
Feedback is much appreciated, so please comment your thoughts below!