Frugal Living Tip: Ditch the Disposables

Rumor has it that some rock stars only wear their clothes once before throwing them away. Throwing out clothes after a single use sounds ridiculous. It isn’t just tough on the environment, [but] it’s also a massive waste of money.

[Y]et [an] article at makes the case that many of us practice the same economically foolish habits on a much smaller scale when we buy disposable paper towels, pack our lunch in paper bags or toss ordinary batteries into the trash.

Instead, we could use a washable cloth to clean up kitchen messes, carry our lunches in reusable tote bags and choose rechargeable batteries.

You may have to spend a little more upfront, but choosing reusable over disposables (at least some of the time) can definitely save you money in the long term.

In fact, you can apply the same logic to other areas of your life and your business. Too often, we only look at the price tag when making a purchase decision, but sometimes the cheapest piece of furniture or equipment turns out to be much more expensive in the long run if it breaks easily or requires constant maintenance to keep running.

[According to an article from], a company using 200 cups a day could save more than $2,500 per year by switching from disposable to reusable cups. The more cups the company uses, the greater the annual savings it can realize by moving away from disposables.

Of course, reusable products also have some environmental advantages over their disposable counterparts. The sidebar at the Green Starbucks blog quotes an internal Starbucks document to make the point that if 50 customers in every Starbucks store bought coffee for their own refillable mugs, Starbucks would save paper equivalent to 300,000 trees per year (using 2007’s worldwide store count).

If you want to get really clever—and save money in the process—keep an eye out for ways to reuse products that were designed to be disposable. Rather that throwing out plastic bags after you’ve carried your purchases home from the store, try reusing those bags to line your trash cans. If you’re crafty, you can even turn a plastic water bottle into a miniature greenhouse for plant seedlings, as shown on the blog, “Pop Cloche.”

Once you start rethinking the disposable mindset, you just might find opportunities to reuse almost everything, saving money and reducing waste at the same time!

What do you think? Have you found ways to save money with reusable products? Or do you prefer the convenience (and lower upfront costs) of disposable products?

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