Is It Expensive to Go Zero Waste?

Written by
Iryna Komazova
June 27, 2022

If you’re asking us for the short answer, we’d say going zero waste is more budget-friendly in the long run, while certain zero waste products can work out more expensive. But if you’re enjoying our articles with more detailed explanations, read on for our full response.

Think Beyond Buying Eco-friendly Alternatives

As we said in one of our previous articles, buying up the entire contents of a zero waste store after deciding to delve into the zero waste lifestyle is a mistake. In doing so, you risk spending more money than you need to, and failing in your zero waste mission. Lots of the zero waste swaps on offer you’d hardly ever use, as they won’t all fit your lifestyle. Sustainable low-waste living is not ultimately about buying eco items instead of disposable ones, but rather about shifting your priorities.

A zero waste philosophy is all about the “re”. Along with “refuse, reuse, recycle”, you also repurpose your money. By thinking carefully about what your money supports, you stop putting your money towards things that:

  • are single-use;
  • are plastic-packaged;
  • have fuel-based ingredients;

You also refuse to order products just because somebody (marketing, fashion trends, your social circle, etc.) convinced you that life without them is impossible.

Instead, you opt to spend your money on high-quality items that:

  • you really need;
  • are reusable;
  • are long-lasting;
  • harm neither nature nor you.

Sometimes more sustainable products cost more, and this is to be expected. But by cutting a lot of other expenses out of your life, you won’t see any increase on your pre-zero waste budget, or may even save money. Your spending will be balanced if you adopt the zero waste approach in the right way.

When we start buying more expensive things due to their nature-friendly benefits, the higher price tag changes our attitude to waste production. When you buy pricier products you start using them more effectively. For example, you’ll use every last drop of that natural face cream, because you’re more conscious of the cost. On the contrary, we tend to treat cheap things more carelessly.

Besides, when you spend more time choosing the right thing, there are fewer impulsive purchases in your life, so less money gets frittered away.

Girl with singleuse and reusable bottles
Reusables stand guard over your budget

No Need to Choose between Saving Nature and Saving Money

While frugality is not the first reason people go zero waste, it’s a logical consequence of producing less waste. With these environmentally-friendly tips, your budget won’t suffer:

  • Make things yourself! If you can’t afford an eco-alternative, try making your own. For example, you can sew small bags for grocery shopping from old fabric, make a beeswax wrap, or try homemade toothpaste.
  • Take care of your stuff. Prolong the lifetime of the things you own by repairing them, following the instructions, servicing them regularly, etc. Then you won’t need to buy a new one so often. 
  • Buy second hand clothes and other consumer goods.
  • Swap with friends, share with family or rent things you only need from time to time.
  • Reuse things you already have. Instead of buying a stainless steel lunchbox, reuse a plastic food container..
  • Plan your meals so you eat every last crumb and don’t create food waste.
  • Buy reusables: rechargeable batteries, a refillable water bottle, washable cloth towels and napkins, washable menstrual products, etc. They cost significantly more than disposables, but you buy them once, so the expense will pay off quickly.
  • Take coffee and food from home to work or on an outing.

Moreover, a zero waste lifestyle can even motivate you to earn money! Sell the things you don’t need anymore. More cash, no trash. Sounds like a win-win strategy for both you and the environment, doesn’t it?

Girls swapping clothes
Swap, don’t shop!


As you can see, in most cases a zero waste lifestyle actually saves money. But how is it for you? We would love to hear your story of how you’re saving (or not saving) money while trying to live sustainably. Tag us in your post or story!

Is it affordable to go zero waste? Can you produce less waste if you’re on a budget? Find the answers in our article!
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