When reusables are discussed it is usually to explain how they can help with our environment and this is often the main reason why people begin to use them in the first place, but having been an advocate for more of us to begin living an eco-friendly lifestyle for a number of years I have seen firsthand how switching to reusables can also save you money. Here are just some examples that may make you consider items that you could swap within your own daily routine.
Reusable Coffee/Tea Cups
Did you know that the cost of the average takeaway coffee is around £3.40? And that can quickly mount up over the course of a year. How many cups of coffee would you purchase per week do you think? Even if it was 5 this could be costing you around £17 or more depending on your tastes. Throw in the disposable cups and things get a little more uncomfortable. It is reported that in the UK alone we throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups every single year! Most of these are not recyclable and those that say they are biodegradable or compostable quite often don’t have a system to ensure this happens so that’s an awful lot of waste going to landfill. One great way of saving money and helping the environment is by using your own reusable coffee or tea cups. If you have time, you could completely cut costs by filling your cup up before you leave the house and taking it with you. You could also start using a flask in order to still have your hot beverage on the go. If this isn’t possible, make sure you choose a coffee shop or cafe that rewards customers who bring in their own reusable. Some will give discounts on each sale which could quickly add up over time making it a far better solution for both your wallet and our waste problem.
The development of disposable wipes for the home really took off during the late ’90s and early 00’s but what many of us didn’t realise is how much these would end up costing us over the years. Just take a moment to think about every wipe you have ever used – I mean with there being a wipe for the surfaces, the car, the windows, the bathroom, the baby, those costs can quickly add up! And where do they end up? Yep, in the bin. Disposable products have been designed to do one thing for the companies… To make them money and to keep you spending. Instead, switch to reusable cloths/wipes where it is possible to do so. These don’t even have to be fancy ones, a cut up towel, an old flannel, an old piece of clothing can all easily be made into a home cleaning cloth which can then be washed whenever it needs to be and reused time and time again.
Let’s take baby wipes as a cost example here. Using one pack of disposable baby wipes per week at the average cost of £2.49 in the first two years of your baby’s life comes to a staggering £258.96. If you chose to purchase a pack of reusable wipes which can range anywhere from around £8-£40 depending on the brand you choose, you can already see how much you would be saving. Considering most parents continue to use baby wipes even after the potty training stage for quick clean ups, hands, surfaces and so on, disposable wipes will continue to leave you out of pocket. Reusable wipes are easy to use, can be washed, used for multiple purposes and could end up saving you hundreds over the years. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that they are plastic-free, perfume-free, better for skin health and for our waterways (wipes cause 97% of blockages in pipes so you can imagine how many end up in the rivers and seas).
Did you know that reusable nappies could end up saving you over £1000 compared to disposable ones? I bet that may be quite surprising to some of you because we are often led to believe that reusables are more expensive. Yes, reusables come with upfront costs but once you have purchased all you need, that’s that, you don’t have to keep spending. To make reusable nappies even more affordable you can shop secondhand (there’s a large market for these), shop the sales/offers, ask for them as gifts for birthdays or baby showers and see if any friends or family could pass theirs on once they have finished using them. You certainly do not need to build up your reusable nappy collection all at once and in fact, most cloth nappy parents take their time and buy what they need over the course of a few months. This gives them time to save or wait for offers, to spread the cost and to also get to grips with using this type of nappy. Once you have enough you will be able to use these until your child is potty trained then store them away ready to use on your next child/children or you could sell them on to make some of your money back. They really are a great choice for your bank balance.
Money Advice Service say:
“The number of nappies you need will vary as every baby is different. Based on an average of two and a half years’ worth of nappies, which comes to about 4000 nappy changes, and £100 of laundry costs:
Average overall cost for own brand disposable nappies: £1875
Average overall cost for reusable nappies: £400
Average overall saving: £1475
All in, including the cost of water and electricity for washing them, they still work out cheaper than disposable nappies.”
Reusable Menstrual Products
Another cost that may be very surprising to hear about are the overall costs of your period products:
“A study, commissioned by Menstrual cup brand Intimina, found a person spends £10.24 per month on menstrual products adding up to £4,916 during an average reproductive lifetime – 12 to 52″
On top of this, in the US alone it is estimated that 5.8 billion tampons get sent to landfill every single year… Imagine adding in your sanitary pads and the rest of the world. I dread to think!
Reusable menstrual products have boomed in the last few years with people reporting more comfortable periods, less pain, shorter cycles and of course, money saving! Products now available include reusable cloth sanitary pads (CSP), period pants and the menstrual cup all of which can be used, washed and reused for years. If we look at the savings, The Period Lady has this all covered and tells her readers:
Swapping to cloth pads over 5 years will save you £491
Swapping to a Menstrual cup will save you an astounding £1177 over 10 years
Swapping to period pants will save you £257 over 3 years
You can read more from her and see her cost breakdown here.
Reusable Water Bottle
Grabbing a bottle of water from the corner shop for your lunch break may seem like a cheap option but do this daily for a year and it could well be costing you around £260! Just like the other disposables I have mentioned that initially come across as the budget choice when you actually delve into those costs a little further, it is clear these are not doing anything for your bank balance. Switching to a reusable water bottle that can be filled from home, filled at work and even filled for free in a cafe or from one of the many refill stations that are now popping up in towns and cities is a sure-fire way of keeping your money in your pocket for the more important things in your life.
Other Reusables to Consider
There are so many reusable options on the market these days, we really are spoilt for choice and even though I can’t cover all of them in this article I just wanted to give a quick mention to beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm which could save you up to £12 a year, stasher bags instead of freezer bags could also save you up to £12 a year, reusable breastpads can be bought for as little as £1 for a pack of 3 yet disposable packs start at around £1.50, reusable water balloons will allow you to never have to purchase the disposable ones again (savings will depend on how much you use them of course) and reusable bags will last you for years and save your money going onto single-use plastic ones.
When it comes to saving money as well as the environment, reusables are the sensible and positive answer. Which ones will you consider?
Emma Reed is a Mother and Blogger who lives in Hampshire with her 2 children, Jake (8) and William (4), and her husband, Rob. She began her parenting blog back in 2016 when she self-published a book on baby teething. Her blog is inevitably what led her to begin living a more eco-friendly lifestyle and she now uses her platforms to show others how they can also adapt their own lives to incorporate these changes. You can read her blog over at www.emmareed.net or follow her on Instagram over at @emmareed_writes