We live in a disposable society, one enamored with mass production and overconsumption. It’s interesting to note that the average American produces nearly 5lbs of trash per day and carries over $90,000 worth of consumer debt.
This raises the question as to how much waste is actually necessary. Why are so many people spending money they don’t have on things that will be soon tossed aside or replaced?
Our throw-away culture has become so normalized that it has infiltrated our bank accounts, households, workplaces, and let’s not forget, taxes.
As Brian and I considered our own circumstances, we decided to trade in costly, wasteful habits for better ones.
Although we have both carried a saving mindset for a while, the pandemic has made us more intentional. Brian and I talked through our compromises to determine what we plan to reduce or eliminate.
We had a terrible habit of buying case after case of bottled water. Terrible! We even have a Brita Water Filter Pitcher, but that didn’t stop our constant supply. Finally, we decided to have ONE case on hand for emergencies only. We also picked up a second Brita Water Filter Pitcher to use when we travel, saving even more money!
With meat shortages and prices on the rise, Brian and I switched to a predominantly plant-based diet. We were spending about $15 per meat-based meal versus $5 per plant-based meal. The only time we treat ourselves to meat is when there is a BOGO deal and we are craving it.
Our alcohol consumption has greatly decreased since January. Brian and I used to enjoy a few drinks at home throughout the week. Now, we find that we don’t enjoy it the same way. Our tolerance is no longer what it was. Limiting alcohol intake has helped us sleep better, feel better, and have more money in our pockets.
From clothing and furniture to appliances and tools, we try to secure second-hand options before considering a new purchase. Even better, I scour the Free sections of different neighborhood platforms to keep an eye out for anything we need.
Car Insurance Adjustments
As with all insurances, one should always shop around for the best rates. Once secured, don’t forget to check every so often for additional discounts. Brian and I did just that when we updated our car insurance coverage with our low mileage adjustment and qualified for discounted rates.
Scenic drives are no longer part of our downtime. We save on gas and money by eliminating unnecessary trips out and about.
Our Google Nest Thermostat has learned our schedule to detect and enhance energy efficiency. We’ve adjusted our air conditioners to the most energy efficient settings. Though it can feel toasty at times (a cozy 78°F), it isn’t uncomfortable enough for us to give up our savings.
We haven’t purchased a book in ages. With patience (and luck!), we manage to stumble across newly released bestsellers through our public library or the little free libraries around town. Our public library also grants access to free downloadable audiobooks, mobile wireless hotspots, and tickets to local attractions.
Benefits of Reducing Waste
Reducing waste reduces clutter. When there is less clutter, there’s more freedom! Not only have Brian and I cut down our use and dependency on physical items, but we’ve also cut down our expenses. With these savings, we are able to fund the things we want: travel, DIY projects, investments, and more.
More Ways to Save
Looking for other ways to reduce waste and save money? Check out the list below!
- Plan your meals: Shop sales and pre-plan your meals to avoid food waste.
- Buy reusable, not disposable: Microfiber cloths, cloth napkins, washable diapers, tableware, etc.
- Sign up for paperless billing: Less paper waste and some services even offer an additional discount.
- Brew your own coffee: Avoid the cafe convenience upcharge.
- Barter: Create connections and barter with family, friends, and neighbors.
- Bike or walk instead of drive: Save on a vehicle and enjoy some exercise.
- Re-evaluate services: Review and adjust insurance plans or monthly subscription services.
- Maintain and repair instead of replace: Proper care and maintenance of your things go a long way.
What ways have you tried to reduce or eliminate waste? Has it saved you money?