12 Nov Why a zero waste lifestyle is cheaper – a calculation
Let´s talk about money. Most people think an eco-friendly, sustainable, low-waste lifestyle is very expensive and only for the wealthy. That is simply not true. If you make some calculations, you will find that you can actually save some good money with the right products. Of course, the break-even point, the moment when the reusable product pays off, is different from product to product. Here are just a few examples (calculation based on cheapest items we could find):
Reusable zero waste products
Reusable products may be a bit more expensive to buy, but after a short while, they will pay off. Whereas single used items are cheaper but the lifespan is lower and that adds up over time. Here are three reusable zero-waste products that are more cost effective in the long run:
Safety razors instead of disposable razors:
Safety Razor R145 vs. R10 per single used razor. Many razors for women also cost more, just because they are pink. You could therefore buy 14 single used razors for the price of a safety razor. A single used razor can be used for about two weeks until you´ll have to replace it. That adds up to only 7 months until you would break even, after that you save money. A safety razor can be used for years. You only have to replace the blades for a few Rand.
Menstruation cup instead of tampon
Menstrual Cup R 250 vs. R1.5 per tampon. You will use 15 Tampons per Menstruation. That adds up to R 23. Therefore, it takes 10-11 months to break even. You can use a menstrual cup up to 8 years!
Make-up removal pads instead of throwaway cotton pads
Make-up removal pads will cost you R80 whereas one single use cotton round is about R0.25. If you use just 2 per day, you will break even after 5 Months. Cotton round can be used over and over again and will last you longer than a year.
Beeswax wraps instead of clingwraps
You get three different sizes of our Beeswax wraps for R120. Three 30 m-cling wrap rolls for R40 will add up to the same price. The beeswax wraps pack has a total length of 0.75 m, if you would use every day this amount of clingwrap your three rolls would be empty after 4 months. The wax wraps will last at least 9 months.
There are probably many more products that you need to buy only once and use it for many months or years instead of throwing them away after a single use. By saving money with these products there is more money left for high quality natural products like cosmetics.
But also, consumer goods are cheaper at times, because they last longer. Here some examples:
- A 200 ml bottle of shampoo lasts 1 months for R55 – A Zero Bar shampoo bar lasts 3 months for R75.
- Toothpaste with activated charcoal costs you R55 and lasts about a months – The Activated Charcoal Refill Bits last 2 months for R80.
- A deodorant is R34 and lasts a bit more than a month. A natural yogi deodorant 50 ml is R79 but it lasts some months (using it 2 times per day).
Some things to think about
In general, we can say that less consumption is more sustainable. Be clear about what is important to you and spend your money on this. Rather buy less, but more specific. Find your priorities. For us, for instance, it is important to eat good and healthy and give our bodies what it needs like high quality natural products, enough sleep, nature and exercise. Therefore, we are willing to spend a little more money on things like memberships for fitness and yoga, on vegetables and traveling. Also, be clear about what you want to support. If we think that a business has to be supported, we buy from them instead of from discounters and franchises.
The mindset that helps me to make a decision when the price I see hurts is “What is the true cost of plastic? It might be cheap now, but it ends up costing the earth.” Our rivers, forests and shores are flooded with containers and single-used plastic items. With that comes micro-plastics entering the food chain and contaminating the earth, costing our health and the health of eco-systems. In case the environmental cost of plastic wasn’t enough, there is also an economic cost for the planet. I can´t imagine what dealing with the waste resulting from approximately 350 million tons of plastic manufactured each year and potentially doubling by 2025 (Greenpeace USA) will cost.
There is reason why products in plastic are cheaper. Depending on the type of plastic, a kg of virgin raw material costs cents and it’s much cheaper to produce new products than recycling old ones. That´s why manufacturers use it. Plastic is economical, but comes at a big price….If we include the other factors in the mix we can see the real cost of plastic.
In addition, cheap cosmetic products for example have cheap ingredients, often chemical and not very good for our bodies. Quality has its price – for good reason.