Reduce Your Waste on a Budget: 12 Easy Changes

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Is it possible to be green when you’re not rich?

Do eco-friendly AND budget-friendly products really exist?

Does the tag eco-friendly come hand in hand with over-priced?

As a broke student, I’ve been trying how to figure this out for the longest time.

See, I live in a constant struggle. I want to be as sustainable as possible, but I also kinda want those fancy zero waste items I see on my Instagram feed day in day out.

Like…I want to buy them all with the money I don’t have. The struggle.

But no more.

Yeah, yeah, I will love to have those cute gadgets at some point in my life, but right now looks aren’t the priority – wasting less is.

We don’t need fancy stuff to be eco-friendly.

Quite the opposite. It is actually preeeeeety easy to be green and reduce your waste on a budget, just with stuff you have laying around the house.

You will end up saving tons of money. And these changes are offensively simple. And pretty random. Enjoy!

Read more about zero waste

1. Stop buying bottled water – if you haven’t already

An easy one to start.

Honestly, if you live in a place with a safe water supply, there is no reason for you to use bottled water. Just do the math about how much money you’ll be saving if you stop spending your cash on those.

And there are TONS of great and budget-friendly options, you just have to find your perfect match. I just got one of these, and I gotta say I’m a big fan. They’re very cheap but they look beautiful – and they don’t have BPA and all those nasty things some reusable bottles have. 


2. No bulk store? No problem!

Just avoid using those little produce bags they offer for vegetables in the supermarket! Do you really think bananas need them?

If you really need to keep using them for some products, you can save the ones from previous supermarket trips and reuse them.

To go the extra mile, you can get reusable produce bags. They are one of these things you only have to buy once in your life, and they are actually a much nicer option because you skip all the toxic plastic stuff from touching your food.

reusable bottle canvas bag zero waste kit for beginners

And never forget your canvas bag! They are super inexpensive in many markets.

3. At the market, go for brands that offer their products in glass or paper containers rather than in plastic

For example, some egg packages are made of carton, while others of plastic.

If you cannot go to a bulk store, this is a nice and easy way to avoid plastic waste – paper is way more eco-friendly, and glass can be recycled infinite times!

4. Think twice before visiting your go-to fast fashion store

Do you need what you’re about to purchase or is it just a whim?

If you need it, is there another way to get it? Maybe a vintage store, borrowing something from a friend or buying your own closet?

Reevaluating your decisions and changing your mindset about how you buy stuff will be super beneficial to you in the long run.

Need help to quit fast fashion? Check out this post!

5. Use recycled pens or fountain pens

Recycled pens? What on earth is that, Lidia? Well, pens made of recycled bottles, for example. I’ve been using these ones from Pilot made with recycled plastic for at least a decade now. They last a long time and are super affordable AND refillable.

Cheap and sustainable: win-win.

6. Switch from paper organizers to digital ones

As a stationery freak, this one has been a tough one for me, but I have more tips on this topic if you need them!

You have another option: buying eco-friendly stationery. Surprisingly, they are not that expensive, and there’s a lot to choose from.

You can check these cute eco-friendly planners to get started. 

7. Dare to DIY

If you cannot afford to buy beauty products from sustainable brands, just do them yourself. This goes for beauty products, food, even clothes if you have the talent to make them!

I’ve been doing this for a long time and, even if at the beginning it looks like an investment (buying oils, extracts, etc.), it ends up being waaay cheaper than going to the shop and buying a final product.

And many times you can use stuff you have already at home!

How rewarding is using something you made? Love it.

8. Stop using tea bags

Doesn’t matter if you’re an avid or an occasional tea drinker, just ditch the tea in sachets and get leaf tea in bulk. Not only it is way cheaper, but in case you didn’t know, these little bags are often partly made out of plastic!

When you put them in hot water, they release tons of tiny microplastics in your drink. Ew.

Why don’t you get a french press, they are very very affordable and versatile. I guarantee you that the taste is x10 better than bagged tea!

Do you know which other VERY UNEXPECTED everyday items contain plastic? Check this post!

9. Ditch the disposable coffee pods

These pods are usually way pricier than normal coffee grounds, and you will be saving them from the landfills.

Aaaand as an alternative switch to a French press – told ya, you can use it for everything – or a stovetop espresso maker. I love how old-school these look.

Pro tip. On that same caffeinated line: an elder family member told me that every day for work since like the 80s he uses a MASON JAR for his coffee. Like how is it possible I had never thought about that before? It looks pretty aesthetically pleasing, too. Such a breakthrough.

10. Start using a bar of soap instead of liquid bottled gel

Your skin will thank you, and each soap bar lasts for A G E S (ok, not literally, but they do last for a looooong time).

Bottled gels have so many nasty chemicals that you don’t need in your life. You can even learn how to make your own soap, or buy ones made with natural ingredients.

Lately, I’ve been using this one. They have different scents, but my favorite is hands down grapefruit and orange – smells like the soap my grandma used to make *heart eyes*.

Pro tip: use bar hair products as well – shampoo and conditioner.

LISTEN, I was terrified about using these products. I thought they would let my already complicated hair all stringy and EW.

But actually they made my very long, very curly and very messy hair looking s t u n n i n g.

If you need more zero waste beauty products, check this post!

11. Make your snacks instead of buying packaged ones

Or instead of spending all your cash in bulk snacks.

I guarantee you that they’ll be x5 cheaper, x10 healthier and x20 tastier.

Like these delish + healthy snicker bars. Want to learn how to make them? Click here!

zero waste vegan sweet snacks

12. Use mason jars you already own

The ones where pickles come? Those ones.

Use them for meal prep, for your salads, your cookies, your coffee, your leftovers.

They look kind of effortlessly cool, which tricks people into thinking you have my life together.

Some day you will be able to afford those cute, expensive and instagrammable ones. But for now you can live without them, hang on with the pickle jar.

Repeat after me: you don’t need fancy stuff to go zero waste.


So these are my humble tips. But hey, I’m no expert, so I would love to hear your own eco-tricks. Tell me in the comments, or in my social media places.

Now it’s your turn to kick waste’s ass. Affordably and sustainably.


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