Zero Waste Challenge

Zero Waste Challenge Update – 13 Simple Changes that are Saving us Over $25 a Month – Week 8


Before we get into the content, here is a quick recap if you want a refresher, or if you are new (hi and welcome!) the previous posts of the challenge.

Week 1 – An introduction to the challenge!

Week 2 – Our first weigh in

Week 3 – 3 Easy Ways to Start your Own Challenge (or just start weighing your trash)

Week 4 – Our favorite zero-waste products so far

Week 5 – 12 Resources for things you can do in 5 minutes or less to reduce waste + 2 free printables

Week 6– 5 easy ways to reduce gift wrap waste

Week 7 – Our introduction to composting


Small changes, big results.


That has been our mantra so far on our zero waste journey. As I talked about in the week 5 update (12 zero waste resources you can do in 5 minutes or less), the most hard-pressed advice we were given for the zero waste challenge was to set yourself up for success. Great advice, right? Right. Except when you walk into the grocery store expecting to just magically find alternative ‘zero waste friendly’ options for anything and everything you normally buy, and then get discouraged and overwhelmed when you can’t find ANY ‘zero waste friendly’ alternatives. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…


After the ‘hypothetical’ grocery store experience, I really took the ‘success’ advice to heart. I realized that we were going to have to start with very small changes in order to eventually see big results. And you know what? That is OK because we want to be successful at this and it is just not plausible with our lifestyle right now to make huge changes quickly (due to having a 2-year old, time constraints, resource constraints, etc. etc).


Here are our results from the past week:

I am excited to see our recycling and food waste/organic recycle numbers increase (or stay the same in terms of recycling). The trash number has increased a little bit as we continue to use up our ‘pre-zero waste’ products (see more below on this) and also because Little E has stopped showing interest in potty training and therefore we are going through more diapers again.


Using up our ‘pre-zero waste products’

As we are still in the process of using up some of our ‘pre-zero waste’ items, we have found it is an easier way to review our products and purchases. By looking at one or two items at a time, we can really stop and be mindful about how we move forward to replace them. What we have found during the past few weeks of the challenge is that not only do many of these changes contribute to less waste, they are also budget friendly as well!



Below are some specific ‘small change, big result’ changes we have implemented into our routine. One important note: where I was able, I added in the cost savings towards these changes as well (these are approximate cost savings). This is in no way an exact science; I just wanted to give a general idea of the monetary results we have noticed as well as reduced waste numbers. I also added in the approximate expense of each item to show that it really doesn’t cost that much more (if at all) to make these changes!


  • French press: We use a french press versus a normal coffee maker. While coffee filters are compostable, we don’t have that added expense.
    • Expense: $4 for french press a at thrift store
    • Cost savings: Approximately $1 a month for coffee filters




  • Tea ballWe use a tea ball for tea. Some tea bags are compostable, but others that are more of a plastic-type material aren’t. This also allows us to buy tea in bulk from a local tea shop.
    • Expense: $6 for tea ball
    • Cost savings: Varies


  • DIY floor cleaner: We started making our own floor cleaner when we moved into our house.  We have old hardwood floors, and we were having trouble finding a cleaner that was safe to use. The cleaner has worked great and lasts us a couple months per bottle! It is a simple mixture of water (4 cups), vinegar (⅛ cup) and a couple drops of essential oils (for scent). You can skip the essential oils if you don’t have any or want to use them.
    • Expense: Refillable spray bottle $1, Vinegar – $0.89 per bottle (I can get about 10 rounds of cleaner out of a bottle of vinegar)
    • Cost savings: Approximately $6.00 on a bottle of floor cleaner ($3 per month)


  • DIY chicken/vegetable stock: I like to make vegetable stock (or chicken stock if I have chicken bones) in my crockpot with leftover veggie scraps. I save my vegetable scraps after meal prepping, and either make the stock at the end of the week or freeze the scraps until later. When you’re ready to make the stock, throw the scraps in a crockpot or stockpot, add water and salt, and cook!
    • Expense: None
    • Cost Savings: Varies depending on stock purchased ($0.89 from a can – $2.50 from a carton)


  • Indoor compost storage: Instead of spending money to buy a bin for our compost inside (until we take it out), we have started storing the compost in leftover containers, oatmeal canisters, and any other type of container. So far, it has worked well!
    • Expense: None
    • Cost savings: Varies




  • Swiffer mop pad replacement: This past week we ran out of our Swiffer mop pads. Without thinking, I started to write that item on our shopping list, but then stopped myself and brainstormed what else we could use as a replacement. Together, Mr. Blographer and I decided we would try to use old socks and shirts instead. Hopefully, that works! 
    • Expense: None
    • Cost Savings: $14 Swiffer mop pads (approximately $3.50 a month)


  • Poop bag replacement: This is one that I feel silly we didn’t do before. We had been purchasing the ‘poop’ bags and using those to clean up our dog waste in the backyard. Since we started the challenge, we have been saving any type of plastic bag (I mean ANY) to use instead. It has worked great! I keep a bin by our door where we let our dog out and just keep adding to that bin. We haven’t had to buy the ‘poop’ bags since we started the challenge!
    • Expense: None
    • Cost Savings: $7 a month


  • ‘Eat me now’ area in the fridge – We created an area in our fridge where we only put leftovers or produce that needs to be eaten right away. This has really helped us reduce our food waste and helped us save money on eating out for breakfast or lunch because we can see and find the leftover food we have. I talk a little more about how reorganizing your fridge can help prevent food waste in this post.
    • Expense: None
    • Cost Savings: Varies


  • Meal planning: While we are on the topic of food, meal planning has also really helped us reduce food waste, and thus, save money. Before I sit down and plan out our meals (I do two weeks at a time), I do a quick, visual inventory of our pantry, our produce, and freezer. That way I know what items we need to use up, and I plan our meals around those items. Many people also plan their meals around grocery store sales. That works too!
    • Expense: Nonmonetary, just time
    • Cost Savings: Varies



  • Organic recycling in the bathroom: We added a clean yogurt container into our bathroom for trash, and now use our trash can for organic recycling. Our trash audit results yielded that most of our bathroom waste was facial tissue or toilet paper. Both of these items are compostable! Adding this container makes it really easy to compost these items!
    • Expense: None
    • Cost savings: None, but a great zero waste reduction!


  • Buying in bulk: We have slowly started to buy in bulk at the store when we can. A couple of examples we have traded so far are cheese (buying in larger packages, or buying blocks instead of individual snack sticks), and applesauce in a large, plastic container versus individual snack packs. 
    • Expense: None
    • Cost savings: Varies


  • Reusable bamboo ‘paper’ towels: I know I have talked about these before in this post, but we seriously love them! We have been using them for three months already, and have no desire to go back to disposable paper towels.
    • Expense: $8
    • Cost savings: $10 a month


  • Reusable napkins: We have two sets that we rotate between for our family. For guests, we are still using up our disposable napkins we had already purchased, or napkins that we got from ordering takeout. But eventually, we will purchase a set just for guest use.
    • Expense: $12 (we love these)
    • Cost Savings: Approximately $2 a month




The savings with JUST these 13 small steps is about $25 a month for our family, and that doesn’t even include the money we save from the changes where the costs vary (since I didn’t add those in). 

The expenses only add up to about $32 dollars TOTAL, so we are definitely ahead!


As I hope you can see, these changes are pretty simple steps you can take to reduce waste, and the bonus is that they save money. If you have a reluctant spouse, you can mention the monetary benefits to try and get them on board!


In addition to a couple of the products mentioned above (I was purposefully trying not to make this a product post), you can view our other favorite zero waste products here.


What small changes have you made to help save money, move towards a zero waste life, or just to be more environmentally friendly?


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18 Comments on "Zero Waste Challenge Update – 13 Simple Changes that are Saving us Over $25 a Month – Week 8"

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Wendy Tomlinson
Love this post. I was quite traumatised this week. I held a family Halloween party. It was a bit of a last minute thing and ended up with a load of cakes left over. The next couple of days were super hectic and I had every intention of handing out the cakes to my neighbours but when I looked at the use by date it was yesterday. Whilst I would happily eat them, I didn’t feel I could give them out to other people, so, unfortunately, they’ve gone in the bin. I so hate doing this. Better planning needed next… Read more »

I’m adamant about not wasting food! I’ve been even going through our pantry to make sure that we are using things that have been there for too long and once I’ve emptied a lot of it out, I’m going to be careful about buying as we need!!

Stephanie Joseph

Wow! This is seriously awesome and inspiring! I don’t know if I am ready to go the whole zero waste, but maybe get rid of paper towels?

Herlina Kwee

Great tips. Even though the saving in terms of $ is not much, but the impact to the environment is great. If every household adopts this, it can make a huge difference to the amount of trash we generate. Thanks for sharing. I hope the old socks/tshirt for the mop works too! 🙂


Love this zero waste motto! Going to start using some of these in our household!

Laura | The Yellow Birdhouse

These are some great ideas! We’ve been using cloth napkins for years, but guests often turn up their noses at them, haha! I really should switch to loose tea, I go through a lot of tea bags!

Faith Lord

Great article. Some of these we do and some are new, thanks!!


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