Lazy Budget Chef: 25 Green Living Items You Can Buy at the Dollar Store to Save Money

Monday, April 16, 2018

25 Green Living Items You Can Buy at the Dollar Store to Save Money

Recently I was helping a family change their habits toward green living and at one point the frustrated mom said,”why is eco friendly living so expensive? I think this plastic free, zero waste, and organic stuff is only for rich people.”

In one way she’s right. I know quite a few green bloggers who refuse to mention how they are also saving money doing what they do and look down their nose at those who do. I guess because otherwise your green living heart isn’t pure if you admit to also being being motivate by living within your means?

I don’t think that’s true.

I’ve bought expensive made from eco friendly material high waste stuff at a spendy hippie store and zero waste items at the 99 cents store. It all depends upon what your green living focus is and how you want to go about meeting your goal.


25 Green Living Items You Should Be Buying From the Dollar Store


Not everything sold at the dollar and 99 cents store is a bargain and not everything sold will be the perfect eco friendly product made perfect eco friendly ingredients.  But with careful shopping, you should be able to buy reusable items that reduce waste from your local dollar store.




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I realize bottled water is not generally considered eco friendly. I bought it in lower waste gallon jugs due to the city shutting off our water daily for a week to work on a water main.
 
A few things first:
 
  • Many eco friendly things will clash with other eco-friendly concerns, practices, desires, or budget. In my experience, there aren’t any 100% perfect green solutions. So doing what you can or not because you don’t like to do is perfectly fine in Lazy Budget Chef Land.
  • No Guilt. This isn’t a list of green or frugal absolutes to make you feel bad. If you don’t like or want to do something – don’t. Every deep dark blogger I know (including myself) has some non-green things they use and do. It’s OK if you do too. Really.
  • Everyone and their situation is different and there is more than one way to do things. Some things we do are one time only, some are seasonal, some depend upon where we are in life. This is a list of options, not absolutes.


1. Herb and vegetable seeds –  if you like to garden (and there is no green living law that says you have to) a dollar for an envelope of seeds is a bargain. You may not find specialty heirloom or organic plants but personally I’d rather my family eat conventionally grown vegetables than no vegetables at all.

2. Gardening gloves and tools, plant pots, potting soilmaybe. Most of the gardening tools look like they will break easily but if budget is the thing keeping you from trying gardening or an indoor herb garden as a new hobby don’t let this stop you.

3. Reusable water bottles, tumblers with lids,  and travel to go coffee mugs – I’ve seen all of these made from BPA free plastic, glass, and most recently stainless steel! For example, Dollar Tree just put stainless travel coffee mugs up on their website you only need a minimal on line order of 4 mugs! I have not seen them in stores, so your best bet is to probably order them online and get free shipping by having them sent to your local Dollar Tree store (learn more about it here.)



You can also decorate them to sell at craft show or to give as gifts.
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3. Ceramic or glass plates, bowls, and coffee cups - I bought a case of each from Dollar Tree online specifically to replace disposable paper plates and dinner products when we host my Husband’s large side of the family. It helps if you have a dishwasher and extra room to store them.

4. Drinking glasses to replace disposable cups – Again, I’ve seen glass and BPA free (I think) drinking glasses. Also wine glasses and again, you could buy them and decorate them to sell at craft show as a side hustle or to give as gifts. Or in my case, I bought a case of glass drinking glasses from Dollar Tree so I always have replacements when I accidentally break a glass, which happens more than you know.

5. Wooden and stainless steel cooking spoons and serving tools – I recommend wood and stainless steel because they last forever. The plastic spatulas, spoons, etc. are usually made from nylon and break and melt too easily to be worth a dollar.

6. Natural loofah sponges Plant based loofahs have so many uses beyond using them in the bathroom to replace bathroom net scrubby poofs. You can cut them to size and use them to replace plastic dish scrubbers, synthetic cleaning sponges, and of course as bath scrubbies.

7. Bar soap packaged in a cardboard box (this brand of bar soap is my favorite because the bars are large and last forever, it is made in the USA with natural and certified sustainable sourced ingredients,  and is certified vegan and curelty free. Oh yeah, and it smells divine!)   Check the ingredients to see if you are comfortable with using it first.

Every zero waste tip says to use bar soap instead of body wash in a plastic bottle. If you are unlucky and have your soap dish perfectly placed to guarantee bar soap quickly turns into a puddle of goo in the shower (although I have seen bar soap savers in 99 cent sores) they often have liquid soap in a recyclable bottle. Aveda stores will take the hard plastic caps for recycling making it an alternative zero waste option.

8. Dried beans, pasta, rice and other ingredient type food Maybe. Check the unit price because it may be cheaper in a conventional  grocery store. In the case of kidney beans I know what I'm buying because Dollar Tree sells the same brand for less than when I buy it at the Mexican grocery store.  If the plastic bags are too small to reuse for doggy duty, I recycle them in the plastic bag bin at the conventional grocery store.

9. Glass and metal mixing bowls

10. Bandanas  – I bought a box to use as cloth napkins for parties.  You can also use bandannas as place mats to replace a disposable tablecloth.

11. Reusable paper gift bags – You can save and reusable paper gift bags from one year to the next. One family I know has some paper gift bags they’ve been reusing for so long they are practically family heirlooms!

12. Oxygen bleach powder and liquid oxygen bleach – is hydrogen peroxide based and is considered a safer alternative to chlorine bleach. I use it to clean almost everything in my house and laundry.

13. CFL and LED Light Bulbs – As light bulbs I switched them over to dollar store CFL lightbulbs and now we’re doing the same with LEDs, which we like a lot better because they are much brighter and use less electricity. Dollar Tree can’t keep their $1 LED light bulbs (learn more about them here) in stock in the store, so I buy them from Dollar Tree on line save money on shipping by picking my order up at my local store. 

14. Dish towels to use as cleaning rags and to replace paper towels - they are too thin and suck to use as bath or dish towels but are fine for cleaning and wiping up spills.

15. Clothes line and clothes pins – if you are in a situation where you want to line dry your laundry.

16. Cleaning vinegar – In all honest there is a thing being repackaged and labeled “cleaning vinegar” instead of using the same thing labeled “vinegar” from the grocery aisle. Check the unit price because you might find it cheaper at a conventional grocery store

17.  Candle powered essential oil diffuser (similar to this one) – You need to supply your own tea light (usually cheaper everywhere except a dollar store)  to use them and they work well as long as you don’t burn it unattended. Be cautious about diffusing essential oils around pets and very young children. (end of PSA)

18. Natural jute twine

19. Spray bottles –- If you want to make your own cleaners, buy a big refill and need spray bottles to use it, or in my case thing you’re all fancy reusing empty cleaner bottles for you DIY cleaning spray and the pump finally gives out and you don’t have replacements because you make your own spray cleaners.

20. Food savers, food carriers, and storage containers (like these)– to replace plastic wrap. Again, I’ve seen BPA free plastic and glass containers with a lid. I’ve also bought recyclable foil pans with a compostable cardboard lid to deliver food to friends. I’m a Midwesterner and that’s what we do. When someone is having a hard time, we bring food.

21. Tote bags -  to use as reusable shopping bags

22. Metal pot scouring scrubber sponges – to replace plastic scouring scrubbers

23 Shammy cloths – to use instead of paper towels

24. Paper plates to replace foam plates – Paper plates are a lower waste option if you compost. If nothing else, paper plates will decompose unlike disposable foam picnic plates. Consider using reusable paper plate holders like these to make them sturdy or doubling paper plates up to get the same functionality as foam plates.

25  Scrub brushes to replace synthetic sponges – Often the brushes are made from plastic but they will last much longer than a plastic cleaning sponge.


What are your favorite reusable products to buy from dollar stores?

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