Making the switch from single-use items to reusable products comes with an up-front investment. But environmentally friendly products like water bottles and lunch containers ultimately save you money, says consumer expert Trae Bodge.
"Look for ways to reuse items, instead of throwing them away," she says.
Here are four eco-friendly products that can keep more trash out of landfills — and more money in your pocket.
"So many plastic water bottles are discarded anywhere and never are recycled," says Victoria Fillet, a certified financial planner at Roosevelt Wealth Management in New York City.
You can help cut down on plastic filling landfills by investing in a reusable water bottle. Bodge suggests a BPA-free plastic water bottle with a replaceable carbon filter so you can fill your bottle at any tap without worrying about drinking water that has a strange taste or order. You can pick up a reusable bottle for less than $10.
A 24-pack of 16.9-ounce Poland Spring water bottles costs $4.39 at Target, or $0.18 per bottle. Meanwhile, an 18.5-ounce Bobble bottle costs $8.99, and uses a filter that lasts long enough to fill up 300 16.9-ounce bottles. It'll pay for itself after roughly 50 bottles' worth of use.
A single coffee run likely isn't breaking your budget, but over time, that daily caffeine fix can add up. "Getting coffee is a huge money waster because it's very easy to make at home," says Bodge. She recommends taking your coffee on-the-go with a reusable mug, which can cost anywhere from $25 to $37.
On average, Americans pay $2.99 for a basic takeout cup of coffee. Making your own coffee at home would cost you about $1.28 per cup, saving you $1.71 a day, according to a coffee calculator from certified financial planner Doug Boneparth. So if you bought a $27 Zojirushi mug, it would pay for itself after roughly 16 cups of homemade coffee.
Even if you'd rather buy your coffee instead of making it, there's still a benefit to swapping in a reusable mug: You can often get discounts for doing so at popular chains such as Dunkin' or Starbucks, and local coffee shops.
Not only can you save money by bringing your lunch to the office, you can also save by packing it in a reusable container instead of plastic baggies or takeout containers. Bodge recommends looking for BPA-free, freezer and microwave-safe collapsible silicone food containers, which can cost roughly $20 for a pack of four. Silicone lasts longer than plastic and has a lower chance of releasing chemicals into stored food, according to Recyclebank.com.
"Your reusable packaging will cut down on the amount of recycled items that end up in the landfill, and of course it will save you lots of money," says Fillet.
A 145-count of Ziploc plastic sandwich baggies cost $7.42 on Amazon, or $0.05 per bag. Meanwhile, a 3-pack of washable and reusable silicone food storage bags cost $6.99 on Amazon. If you use one bag daily for a sandwich in your packed lunch, swapping in reusable silicone bags will pay off after 140 uses.
On average, synthetic kitchen sponges last four to six weeks, and experts say they can be harmful to the environment because they contain chemicals. Bodge suggests investing in reusable dish cloths, which can cost between $6 and $24 and are typically washable and dishwasher safe. Those, she says, can last for years.
A 3-pack of Scotch-Brite sponges cost $4.49 at Staples, or $1.50 per month if you swap out your sponge monthly. At that rate, washable and reusable European dish cloths by Grove Collective, which cost $5.95 for a set of two, would pay off in four months.
Changing your daily habits in an effort to go green can be challenging, says Bodge. She suggests taking note of everything you throw away each day over the course of a week, to understand how much waste you produce. Then you can figure out which disposable items you might swap out for reusable goods.
"Start easy," says Fillet. "Try to do one thing each week that will save the environment and also save you dollars. If you start small and work up to it, it will become your daily habit."
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