Stop throwing money away

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There is no question about it that disposable items can be very convenient at times. If you stop and think about it, though, they are not all they are made out to be.

While it might be quicker to throw something into the rubbish when you are done using it rather than washing it and putting it away, you do have to have to spend time going to the store and buying the same products all over again, and that again and again and the costs for for doing this can really add up in terms of pounds, shillings and pence.

Also, you are not just throwing away your hard earned money, you are also disposing of the resources used to make the throwaway products and unnecessarily sending things to the landfill.

I am not suggesting that you stop using disposable things altogether; just that you give a little more thought to it.

Some disposables may indeed hard to live without for some (such as diapers), but other items, some of which I will list below will be barely noticeable once you change a few habits. You will, however, need to spend a little money up front to save quite a bit down the line.

It is reckoned that a family of four can save about 2,000 Pounds a year by cutting back on or eliminating the items that have been mentioned below.

Of course, the final savings ultimately depends on what you use now, how much you cut back, and local prices. Regardless of the exact total, it may be less it may be more, wouldn't you rather be spend that money on something for your family, for your home or even simply for yourself rather than spending it on disposable junk?

Paper napkins (Who needs them?)

Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Concerned about the amount of extra washing that may create? Assign a napkin to each family member – with his or her name embroidered or by using different colors or sewing on a colored tag. The idea here is that if the same person uses the same napkin at every meal, and reuses it for a while, you can wash napkins less often., and thus also save on laundry cost.

Whatever the monetary savings may be you will be saving around 4,368 paper napkins from going to the landfill each year. Impressive, eh?

Paper towels

Wipe up spills with cloth towels. Use rags for cleaning. You can make your own by cutting up old sheets, T-shirts, towels, etc., or buy microfiber towels. For windows try crumpling up old newspapers.

If you really must use paper for mopping up something, and sometimes this is unavoidable, then use toilet paper instead. It is cheaper than kitchen towel from the roll and you can throw it into the compost as well. Then again you can do that with paper towels too.

When it comes to buying and using toilet paper try too buy the cheapest ones, such as, in Britain, Sainsbury's Basics toilet rolls, or other “basics” range ones from other outlets.

Resealable, plastic storage bags (and at times you get those with produce too)

Reuse them by washing them out and letting air dry. It is not a good idea, however, to reuse bags that were used to store raw meat. The risk of infection if far too great and outweighs the potential savings.

Such reusable bags for the use as sandwich wraps and for keeping snacks in are available from a variety of outlets and makers.

Store leftovers in plastic or glass reusable containers.

For this purpose keep glass jars from produce as well as plastic containers that can be thus reused for keeping leftovers or partly used contents of tin cans. Never store that in the tin can itself.

It always amazes me time and again that people will go and buy plastic and/or glass storage containers in which to keep their leftovers or store whatever else while they will toss the glass jar or plastic container from some product into the recycling bin without even glancing at it once as to whether it has a potential reuse.

Paper coffee filters

Get a reusable coffee filter – they are now available and fit most if not even all makes of filters, even the ones you stick on top of a coffee pot, or make coffee in a French press, which does not require a filter.

Bottled water (and other such drinks)

Get a reusable stainless-steel bottle to carry water and other drinks when you are on the go, and this for every member of your family.

This adds up to a real great saving if you and your family tend to consume even only one bottle of beverage a day. Why anyone would pay for water in a bottle, I must say, still beats me.

It is true that a stainless steel bottle initially costs a few quid they are worth it in the end considering that all you have to do is fill them up again at the tap for a penny or so at a time.

Single-use batteries

Use rechargeable batteries instead and it is much easier to use rechargeable batteries than you think. Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and chargers are now widely available and even cheaply at times at stores such a Lidl and Aldi. Grab them when they are on offer. I sure do. An added bonus: You don't have to run to the store when your device runs out of juice. Just recharge the batteries and you're good to go.

One point of advice though: Do not put those into flashlight that you keep only for emergency use of the “just-in-case” variety.. Rechargeable batteries discharge when not in use even and you may find that the flashlight has no power when you need it most. On the other hand, even ordinary batteries, stored in a light (or other appliance) for long will (1) discharge and (2) corrode and often, when doing the latter, ruin the device.

Store flashlight and ordinary batteries for emergency use separate.

Using rechargeable batteries, however, for all other uses not only saves you money – and even more so when you can get them from places such as Lidl every now and then at the ridiculous low cost that they are are – but also is good for the Planet, as you are not sending any dangerous batteries to the landfill.

Plastic disposable razors and razor blades

Instead of – if you want to shave wet and some people do not only by choice but have to for reasons that they cannot use an electric shaver on their skin – using disposable plastic razors get one that takes replaceable heads. Other alternative: use a safety razor with metal blades. Those are steel and can be recycled.

If you can, however, I advise that you use an electric shaver instead of razors that need their blades replaced every so often. You could, obviously, also grow a beard.

Newspapers and magazines

Who still buys a newspaper today? I don't and I also do not pay for anything of this nature online – if I can help it.

Often you can read your favorite newspapers and magazines online instead of letting the paper pile up at home. You will find a lot of interesting content for free online, but even if you have to pay to read articles you'll still come out ahead.


Nowadays many books are available as E-books and sometimes, though not all times, they come in cheaper than their printed versions. There are also times when E-books are offered at very reduced rates or even free.

Personally I do find it a drag to read long publications on the computer screen it is a saving to the environment to go for E-books even if, like I do at times when feasible, print the books and bind them myself, using the computer printer. This may come at a price in ink and paper it is an option and still cuts out the shipping, as in actual costs and the environmental cost.

Paper handkerchiefs

Those, in my opinion, are a total utter waste, unless one has a serious cold or flu and they are used as a means of disposing of germs in a more hygienic manner. In all other cases I suggest the good ol' cloth hankie of childhood days.

You don't even have to buy those. They can be easily made from some old sheets or T-shirt or such like.

Being a serious hayfever sufferer I cannot be without a handkerchief and paper ones just would not do. Hence I have made my own and they also can serve, as and when the need arises and no dryer or towels to be found in washrooms, as a personal hand towel.

Those here are just a few ideas of many that should make you stop throwing money out of the window, if not literally than proverbially. This list could be added to nigh on ad inifintum.

Changing just a few little things and ways can save you money and is also good for the environment.

© 2010