10 Ways To Reduce Your Waste And Save Money. (#3 Might Gross You Out)

If you talk to your grandparents (or great grandparents if they’re living) you would probably find that the practice of things like cloth diapers, composting and reusable grocery bags were a normal part of their everyday lives.

Everyone is talking about Zero Waste living right now like it’s some innovative concept but it’s not. I love intentionally choosing ways to cut down on waste. I think it’s important to be conscious of excess but I have to be honest in that I’ll never be a Zero Waster. I believe that waste is unavoidable.

The answer is more complex than this though because things like monetary status, economics, and personal beliefs are going to individually impact the way we all view a zero waste lifestyle. What I’m learning is to do what I can with what I have.

So on my journey to cut down on our waste as a family, I’ve found Low Waste Living to be a much more practical approach. It’s not so extreme as much as it’s a thoughtful and intentional approach to reducing waste.

Here are 10 ways we are currently working on low waste living, in our home:

  • Cloth Diapers. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you know I cloth diaper about 90% of the time. The boys are in cloth diapers excluding nighttime and weekends. This has significantly reduced our garbage while saving us money! Something that really helps is that the city actually limits how much garbage each household can have. We’re allowed 2 large garage bags per family twice a month. We don’t have garbage pickup every week so that has really motivated us to use less disposable diapers. I don’t really enjoy having garbage bags full of stinky diapers sitting around for 2 weeks. Yuck! You can read more about my use of cloth diapers here.

  • Cloth Wipes. Along with cloth diapers, I try to use cloth wipes as much as possible for a few reasons. Our garbage is less when we use cloth wipes. I also find that they work 20x better than disposable wipes when it comes to cleaning baby bums. I use these baby wash cloths as cloth wipes. Check back here for an easy, non toxic baby bum wash that I’ll be sharing!

  • Family Cloth (reusable toilet paper). This is the most recent change we’ve made in our home. When I asked my husband if he wanted to switch to reusable toilet paper he surprised me by saying YES! Without going into great detail, I’ll just say that reusable toilet paper is 100x better at keeping things clean than disposable. Once we’ve spent a little more time using it, I’ll write a solid review! I’m no stranger to trying weird things.
  • Reusable Hygiene Products: I use cloth pads and a diva cup. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and can’t imagine going back! You can read more about that here.
  • No Plastic Shopping Bags: Using my own shopping bags (and produce bags) has become second nature. I just started taking my own containers to our local bulk bin store for things like honey, oats, pasta and more! It’s amazing how easy the switch can be with an adjusted mindset. My mother in law made me some reusable produce bags from repurposed sheer curtains, similar to these! I’m hoping to eventually sew my own snack bags, like these. If you’re handy with a sewing machine put your skills to use!

  • Unpaper Towels and Cloth Napkins. We now use microfibre cloths in place of paper towels. My initial reason for switching wasn’t actually motivated by wanting to reduce our waste. It was because I found these microfibre cloths to be much better at cleaning up messes. Since this pack comes with 3 different colours, it’s easy to assign a specific colour to a job. I use these for everything from wiping down household surfaces to wiping down babies faces. I also like these cloth napkins. I’m still figuring out to wash them and keep them nice but they get the job done, regardless.
  • Eating Leftovers, Smaller Portion Sizes and Composting. THIS is a tough one because it’s easy to justify throwing out moldy food. What I’m working on is cooking smaller portion sizes and having us eat leftovers a few times a week. When that isn’t possible, we compost. Invest in some reusable freezer storage bags to cut down on plastic bag waste.
  • Clothesline and rack drying: My husband strung up a simple clothesline for me between two trees in our backyard. I also have something similar to this drying rack.
  • Buying Second Hand: As much as possible we try to thrift items in our home. We also work on purging once a month and donating what we don’t use back to local second hand stores. Our garage is a work in progress. It’s easy to keep junk when you don’t see it! Check out my post here for tips on buying second hand clothing.
  • Refillable Water Cooler: So, I’m kinda weird about how my water tastes. A few years ago we asked for a water cool for Christmas from our family and it’s been one of my favourite gifts we’ve ever received. It’s similar to this one. About every week or so my husband goes to our local water refill station and for about $8 he fills 3 huge (reusable) jugs (I don’t know how big they are honestly) and brings them home. Our water from the refill station is free from nasty things like fluoride, so that’s a bonus too.

There are so many great ways to practically reduce your family’s waste output. These are just some of the things we are currently practicing. You can save money and simplify your things by implementing a low waste lifestyle. What are some ways you reduce your waste? I’d love to hear from you!

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Cloth Diapers On A Budget

Once upon a time, long Ago sweet little babies crawled around, their squishy bums covered in cloth.

Actually, not too long ago cloth diapers were the norm in society and not the trendy luxury that everyone seems to think they are today. In 1948 Johnson and Johnson introduced the first mask-marketed disposable diaper in the U.S. (source)

So less than 80 years ago the majority of babies were wearing cloth and only cloth.

By the year 2006 American babies were wearing 3.6 million TONS of disposable diapers, making of 2.6% of municipal waste. (source)

Typically when cloth diapering comes up in conversation the first thing someone will say to me is, “Wow! I wanted to cloth diaper but I just couldn’t commit to it.” Cost and laundry are usually the top two reasons why most mamas feel overwhelmed by cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers don’t have to break the bank! Don’t believe me? Let me walk you through it.

When I decided to cloth diaper I only knew what little I had been exposed to. You can read more about that here. When I shared that I wanted to cloth diaper with other people, I was met with skepticism. I was told it was expensive and would only add unnecessary work to my already overwhelming role as a new mom.

I didn’t set out to prove anyone wrong. But I knew I had to be smart about the cost part of it and the work part of it, well I wasn’t afraid of a little extra work. Which by the way is A HUGE misconception when it comes to cloth diapers. By the time I was pregnant we were a one income family, living in a 600 square foot basement apartment. We didn’t have extra money to throw around. How was I going to afford a bundle of cloth for my sweet baby?????

  • Buy Used (Secondhand). Buying used DIAPERS? Gross! Actually, it’s not. Most cloth mamas treat their cloth diapers like another child, especially if they bought them brand new. You can find SCADS of secondhand diapers at a fraction of the cost literally all over the Internet. Facebook marketplace is great place to start. If you live in Canada, Kijiji is also a great resource for finding secondhand diapers. If you are looking for the most budget friendly secondhand cloth diapers, FB Marketplace and Kijiji are your best bet. You can usually haggle with people who are trying to sell of parts of a stash. Sometimes a mama will even be selling wet bags, diaper pail and sprayer as part of her stash!

Cloth Diaper Trader is a HUGE resource for finding consigned cloth diapers.

Nicki’s Diapers has really great standards as far as what they sell. Check them out!

  • Shop Deals and Promotions. I recently (and for the first time) purchased new Kawaii Baby diapers through this deal on Amazon. I now receive monthly emails about discounts, deals and promotions that this brand is offering. Brands will also discontinue different styles and put them on clearance. If you keep tabs on your favourite brands, you might be able to snag a deal when something goes on sale!
  • Become a Brand Ambassador. While I’ve never done this during my cloth diaper journey, I’ve seen plenty of moms across the internet who have. A brand ambassador is someone that a company will send diapers to, to try out and review. This usually means that you can get diapers for free or at a major discount. The downside to being a brand ambassador means that you need a website or blog with high traffic. The whole point is that the company is getting free advertising in exchange for letting you try out their diapers.
  • Put cloth diapers on your baby registry! I WISH I had thought of this but it never occurred to me until after the fact. You can score almost everything you need by registering for your stash before you even have your baby.
  • Inherit diapers. My sister gave me a garbage bag full of cloth diapers and it really boosted my stash! If you know a friend or family member who isn’t going to resell or has had used diapers for a long time and wants to just get them gone-try asking. You might be surprised!

Cost Breakdown: New VS Used.

If you are new to cloth, you might be asking yourself how could they possibly cost so much? That all depends on how you go about it. If you MUST have high end, brand new, organic diapers you are going to spend anywhere from $500 to $900 for a stash. For example:

The Charlie Banana brand of diapers sells 3 brand new diapers with 6 organic inserts at the price of $112 CAD. If you are diapering from birth, you’ll need at LEAST 12 diapers a day (and be washing every night) to have enough. That’s a cost of about $350 for 12 diapers (with inserts) or over $37 per diaper. If you go with a budget friendly brand like Kawaii Baby (my FAV!) you are looking at $7 to $12 CAD per diaper with or without inserts, depending on the style. That’s an incredibly GREAT deal at $84 CAD for 12 diapers. But even $84 can feel like a lot when you are on a really tight budget.

When I first started my stash I spent a total of about $180 on everything. I had about 30 pocket diapers with 2 inserts, cloth wipes (given to me for free), 2 brand new wet bags at $15 for both, $50 diaper sprayer, $2 gloves, and 2 buckets ($5) for dirty diapers. If you break down the cost, I spent about $3.60 per diaper including inserts.

I was given more diapers from my sister after she didn’t need them anymore. I’ve resold almost ALL the secondhand diapers I started out with. This enabled me to purchase BRAND NEW diapers this past Christmas. YAY! I now have a total 24 pocket diapers with 2 inserts each, for my boys. I typically wash twice a week. We use cloth Monday through Friday, during the day. We use disposables nights and weekends.

Budget Friendly New Cloth Diapers:

If you aren’t keen on secondhand diapers you can still purchase brand new diapers that are budget friendly. You are still going to spend more than if you bought secondhand but these are the two most affordable brands I’ve seen that I can reccommend.

In conclusion, I’m PRO secondhand diapers all the way. Why? Because it’s the most affordable option when you are starting out. You can also try so many different styles of diapers when you buy secondhand because the cost gives you more freedom. That is how I figured out what brand, style and fit I liked the most and why I eventually purchased brand-new from this company. Cloth diapers don’t have to be a luxury thing. It’s the same way I think about unmedicated birth, midwives, doulas and home birth. Women have been doing these things for ages!

Do you cloth diaper and have you ever tried doing it on a tight budget? I’d love to hear your best tips and tricks!