Cut waste, save money: avoid disposable products
HOME & GARDEN | January 31, 2012

Cut waste, save money: avoid disposable products

Taking a few simple steps to avoid throw-away items not only makes sense for the environment; you could also be well over £500 a year better off!

I know I've been tempted by the apparently cheapness of disposable products against reusable when compared side-by-side on a shop shelf. However, though they may be cheaper initially, when the sums are totted up at the end of the year the greener, reusable choice nearly always turns out to be the money-savvy one.  

Read on for some great savings to be made through swapping reusable and green for a few key disposable items. Just think of what you could do with an extra £500...


Choose rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are more expensive initially and you'll have to buy the battery charger too, but the savings start adding up as soon as you have recharged and used the batteries a few times, especially when used in 'high-drain' gadgets such as cameras and toys.

A couple of extra tips: 1) Consumer testing group 'Which?' has advised against buying the chargers that claim to recharge disposable alkaline batteries. 2) Keep your charged rechargeable batteries in a sealed box at the back of the fridge. It helps the charge 'keep' longer!

Savings: A set of 8 'AA' rechargeable batteries would save you approx. £500 over 100 charges. (Which?) 


Take a travel mug

Often grab a latte on the way to work? Were you aware that many of the disposable coffee cups that the big chains use are non-recyclable because of the waxy coating used on the cardboard? Switch to a reusable travel mug instead and you'll be helping to save many thousands of trees from the chop each year.

Even if you don't want to brew at home, you can still save. If you go to certain coffee chains with your own mug you can get a discount on your drink.

Savings: Make own coffee, save more than £500 a year. Buy from coffee chain with own mug, save more than £50 a year. (  


Go natural for air freshener

Naming no names, every time you switch on the TV there seems to be a new plastic air freshener 'ornament' design with its expensive refill system and energy wasting plug. It's unnecessary wastage when there's a super cheap, super safe odour killer you can use instead - bicarbonate of soda.

Just fill a decorative dish with half a cup of bicarb, place it anywhere you want to remove smells and hey presto, it simply absorbs odour, leaving rooms fresh! If you want to scent a room, an essential oil burner produces waves of safe, chemical free perfume.


Savings: £19.29 a year. (Name brand electrical air freshener, based on 45 days usage per refill, £31.32, v. bicarbonate of soda based on replacement every 6 months, £1.88 (Sainsbury's), oil burner £6.00, tea lights, £2.65, essential oil, £1.50 (Amazon).)


Water filtration, without the plastic!

A very few companies, such as Brita, now accept their plastic water filters back for recycling - find your local recycling point here.  Unfortunately, most others don't.

Never fear, however, since I have an alternative solution that means you may never need to buy another plastic water filter again. Simply buy bamboo charcoal. It's made in Japan specifically for water filtration - and now it's available over here. Pop the pieces in the bottom of any jug and fill for clear, great tasting water for up to 2 months and none of the plastic waste!

You can use your bamboo charcoal after water filtration to regulate moisture, reduces odour, inhibit mould and keep food fresh. Once it's dry, tuck it in your stored shoes, in your salad crisper or in a damp corner of the bathroom or kitchen. After a year of this work, you can crush it and add it to the garden, where it will help to aerate soil!

Savings: £16.30 a year. (Name brand plastic water filter jug, £20, plus 12 plastic water filters, £48, based on replacement every month (Sainsbury's) versus glass jug with lid, £8.50 (Amazon) and bamboo charcoal, £43.20, based on replacement of four pieces every two months (Charcoal People).)

All prices correct at time of publication.

>> Got junk? Make cash!


What non-disposable items do you choose over disposable? Does it save you money in the long run? Post your thoughts below, or join us on Twitter and Facebook!