Thursday, March 8, 2018

Save Money: 25 Disposables You Can Replace

I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to realize I didn’t have to keep buying stupid disposable stuff like brown paper lunch bags, air fresheners, and furnace filters every month if I switched to using a washable and reusable version.

The light bulb went off over my head when I gave up storing blocks of cheese and leftovers in disposable zipper baggies to keep  the army of reusable food storage containers crammed in my kitchen in check. The amount of trash in my trash can went down and it added a bit of extra money back into my budget.

Everyone knows about swapping out disposable coffee cups, water bottles, and paper plates for the reusable version. I though I’d share with you some ideas on what unusual reusable items are available to make low cost and low waste living an easy switch.

How to Save Money the Zero Waste Way!



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Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post for your convenience.

1. Car Clip Air Freshener (learn more here)– Add your favorite scent or essential oil to the included pads and your car will smell great!


2. Furnace filters – Husband bought an allergy blocking reusable furnace filter because we had to keep changing our disposable furnace filter so often because of my allergies. Now we clean it the first of every month (in theory.)


3.  Dental floss – I used a Waterpick Water Flosser as a teen because I couldn’t use floss when I had braces. I should revisit this.




4. Wrapping paper – I made cloth reusable gift bags (learn how to make my gift bags here) to save my sanity and clear some of my fabric stash.  I use wrapping paper if I have to ship something but most of the time I use a reusable gift bag.

How to make reusable cloth gift bags


5. Razors and shaving cream – I use an electric razor instead of a disposable or nicking my legs all to hell with a safety razor. Yep they have women's electric razors too. I have a wet/dry electric razor which works great if I need a leg touch up in the middle of the day when changing from pants to a skirt or to shorts for a workout.

Several readers asked about my woman's shaver. I bought the Panasonic Close Curves Wet/Dry Ladies Shaver from Amazon.(The bikini trimmer works great for underarms.) Not shaving at all would be even cheaper but that is. Never. Going. To. Happen. Ever.


 6. Rechargeable batteries and charger – I got sick and tired of buying AA and AAA batteries for our remote controls, flashlights, and every other little thing that chooses to have a dead battery the minute I want to use it. I keep one set of batteries in use and a second set charged up in a drawer for easy swap out.


7. Tattler Reusable Canning Lids – You can use these indefinitely reusable canning lids with a pressure canner or for  water bath (boiling water) canning. They are BPA free too!


8. Coffee filters, K cups, and Nespresso pods – I use a reusable coffee filter. It’s supposed to make a better cup of coffee. I don’t know about that because I never used the disposables so I can’t compare. There are both cone and basket style reusable coffee filters and they even have reusable K cup cups and Nespresso capsules  too.


9. Nontoxic reusable plug in wall air freshener – I use a plug in ceramic wax warmer similar to this one in my bathrooms as a nontoxic air freshener. Sometimes I put locally made wax melts made with essential oils in it. Other times, I use wax from the bottom of a dead jar candle I always intend on remelting into a new candle but don’t.

10.  Reusable cloth napkins don’t have to only be for fancy holiday dinners or expensive. I ordered a case of 24 bandanas from the dollar store to use as cloth napkins for everyday and for parties. Yep, you can order stuff rom Dollar Tree online and get  FREE SHIPPING when you choose to have your order shipped to your local Dollar Tree store for pickup!

11. Laundry Detergent – I learned about the reusable Eco Egg laundry detergent from my readers in the UK (thanks friends!) The Eco Egg is filled with natural cleaning pellets and lasts up to 210 loads of laundry – a full year’s worth!

12. Reusable fabric softener sheets -  I use tennis balls in my dryer instead of disposable softener sheets for static cling and fluffy towels with great success and no damage to my dryer. If that’s not your speed, you can use wool dryer balls or if you aren’t into animal products, these cute little hedgehog dryer balls.


13. Replace paper towels with designed wash clothes, sponges, etc. I color code my kitchen sponges – one color for counters and one color for dishes. I wash them in the dishwasher to prolong their life. For bigger messes I cut and hemmed old bath towels to the size of a paper towel.  I keep them under the kitchen sink. I use them once and pop them in the laundry hamper. When I run out, I don’t run to the store I do laundry. I have a roll of emergency paper towels for anything involving bodily fluids because I’m squeamish. I have had the same roll for almost three years.


How to easily replace disposable paper towels


14. Reusable juice boxes and drink pouches – Finally a healthier lunch box option to surgery juice box drinks (if you choose!) that is easy to clean! Use the funnel to fill the Non-Toxic, BPA & Phthalate Free drinking bag with the hot or cold beverage of your choice and zip the bag closed. easy!



15. Replace cotton balls and disposable face cleaning wipes with a set of washable cotton rounds or go old school with a stack of designated wash cloths.


16. Reusable Popsicle molds are way cheaper and taste better than those disposable plastic popsicle tubes.


17. Sandwiches and snacks dry out in reusable cloth snack bags. I though I was stuck with the sometimes inconvenient reusable food containers, until I tried a reusable silicone zipper sandwich baggie.  Silicone snack bags are also spill proof and are much easier to stuff in a pocket or bag when empty on the go.


zero waste reusable lunch zipper sandwich bags the best!
You can learn more about the reusable silicone zipper snack bags I use here.  In theory, I could put one in my purse to use as a reusable take out food container but I never think that far ahead when I go to a restaurant.


18. As a dog mom, it was a game changer when I found out I can replace my disposable sheet sticky lint rollers with a reusable sticky lint roller!  All you have to do is wash it after you use it. Once it dries it will be sticky again. It is a game changer for pet parents everywhere!


19. Consider filling reusable squeeze food pouches instead of using disposable food pouches when on the go.  Not only do you save money and reduce waste, but you also get to control the ingredients!


20. Replacing disposable paper or plastic drinking straws with reusable stainless steel straws will quickly pay for themselves. Or make it fun since you won’t be buying straws again with reusable crazy curly straws.

21. Never run out of paper cupcake liners again by switching to silicone cupcake baking cups.  There are a ton of hacks for silicone baking cups besides using them for baking!


22. Consider replacing some or all of your disposable paper tissues with soft, flannel handkerchiefs. Personally I bounce back and forth between the two types of tissues when I’m sick. I don't have a chapped nose for the first time in forever! Not to mention, the flannel hankies don't disintegrate after using a neti pot like the paper tissues do. (Ew.)

 reusable and washable flannel handkerchiefs
I have a small laundry basket on the dryer for dirty handkerchiefs and cleaning towels in the laundry room and pour the contents into the washer when they need a wash.


23. There are washable and reusable pee pads for potty training your dog instead of using the disposable pads that will never decompose in a landfill next to baby diapers. Who knew?

24. If you pack a daily lunch, consider a reusable lunch bag over a brown paper bag. Check out the grown up options in my posts 15 Clever Lunch Bags for Men and Boys and 11 Best Lunch Bags for Girls, Teens, and Women


11 cute lunch bag ideas for girls, teens, and women


25 Giving up plastic wrap for these cheap zero waste options was easy for me because I hate how wasteful plastic wrap never sticks to anything except itself on the roll. The best part about this suggestion is that you might already have many of the these options already!


nine easy and cheap ways to replace plastic wrap


I've been switching over bit by bit and the small investments in reusable options  quickly pay for themselves.

What are your favorite way to replace disposables with reusable?

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