Last updated on May 8th, 2019
When I was a kid my dad was always complaining about how wasteful our family was.
He was constantly telling us to turn out the lights when we left a room, to not take more food than we can eat, and to stop wasting so many damn paper towels and napkins!
At the time he seemed like a cranky old miser, but now that I’m a dad myself and I have the responsibility of paying the bills each month I realize he was on to something.
In an effort to reduce our debt to more manageable levels we’ve been on a campaign of sorts to cut expenses and save money in any way we can.
Our current target: disposable products like plastic cups, and paper towels and plates.
Disposable products like these can be a huge time saver. It’s a lot easier to simply toss a plastic cup in the trash rather than having to wash it.
And paper towels come in awfully handy for quick spills that happen almost constantly when you have young children bouncing around the house.
But you’ll pay a steep price for that convenience. Just take a walk through the disposable products aisle of your local supermarket and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
That stuff ain’t cheap!
A Real Life Example
Let me use our household as an example so you can see how much you will save by ditching disposable products.
With kids and pets in the house we used to go through paper towels like crazy. Before we began making a conscious effort to skip disposable products we reached for the paper towels every time there was even the smallest spill or mess to clean up.
These days we’re much more likely to reach for a washable towel or dish rag instead.
By making just a tiny effort to use re-usable cloth towels instead of paper towels, we managed to cut back our paper towel usage dramatically.
We went from using a roll of paper towels every two days to using the same amount in 2 weeks!
At a roll every two days over the course of a full year we would have used about 183 rolls. But at a roll every two weeks we’ll only use 26 rolls! That’s a difference of 157 rolls of paper towels!
That sounds like a lot. But how much does it actually save us?
We only buy our paper towels at Costco because they are very inexpensive and we actually like the quality better than some name brands.
At Costco, we buy a 12-pack of Kirkland Signature brand paper towels for $15.69. That means each roll costs about $1.31.
By cutting 157 rolls of paper towels from our budget we will save $205.28 this year!
This is a perfect example of how you can save money by substituting what you buy now for something that works the same or better for less money.
I still can’t believe we were spending that much money on something so stupid all this time.
It just goes to show you the importance of tracking your spending with a budget and always looking for new ways to save money.
Super Simple Tips To Break Your Addiction To Disposable Products
Paper towels were the main offender in our household but we actually managed to save money by cutting back on other disposable products as well.
Here are the steps we’ve taken so far to minimize our use of disposable products and reduce our grocery bills.
1. Our cat Jasmine eats 1 can of food each day. She gets half in the morning and the other half in the evening (assuming the dog doesn’t sneak in and steal it). During the day we had been using a plastic zip lock bag to store the half can of food that was left after her morning feeding.
We did away with the wasteful bags and picked up a small, re-usable Tupperware container for 79 cents. It saves us money every day by eliminating the use of disposable bags.
2. Paper plates are awfully convenient, especially if you’re like me and despise doing dishes. But they aren’t cheap and a family of five can go through them like crazy.
We still use paper plates occasionally but by making an effort to bypass the paper and go with the real dishes instead we’ve been able to make them last a lot longer and limit the number we have to buy.
3. Those big red plastic cups are great for parties and I also like to use them when I’m working in the yard or the garage so I don’t have to worry about breaking a glass. But there’s no reason to throw them out. We just wash them with the rest of our dishes and stack them neatly in the cabinet where they take up almost no room at all.
4. I still catch myself going for the paper towels when I spill some coffee on the counter or one of the kids knocks their drink over. But most times I catch myself and whip out a dish towel instead. Then I just toss the towel in the laundry room to be washed.
We also picked up some professional grade bar towels for just a few bucks at Amazon. Those towels will clean up hundreds of messes and save us loads of hard-earned cash.
Think about some other ways you can limit or eliminate your use of disposable products. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll also be helping to save the Earth by living a greener lifestyle.
Mike Collins has been working in the financial industry since 2002 and is a self-proclaimed money nerd. He’s written for numerous personal finance websites and been featured on sites such as MarketWatch, Fortune, and Business Insider. Mike created Wealthy Turtle to give readers the tools and knowledge to manage their money like a rock star.