Why reusable? Expensive zero waste purchases justified

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Many people perceive the cost of switching to zero waste and reusable products to be quite high.

I’m guessing you think this too, and you’re struggling with justifying these expensive purchases. And who can blame you?

On the face of it, spending $30 or more on a single roll of reusable paper towels versus a couple of dollars for a disposable roll is an obvious choice.

But is it? Below, I outline the reasons why spending more upfront can be more than worth it in the long run.


Don’t compare with the cost of disposables

First of all, you have to dispose of (ha ha) the idea that reusables are the same as disposables.

Let’s keep on with the paper towel example. Whilst in name they’re pretty much the same, in nature they’re not even close.

The paper version comes in disposable plastic packaging every time you buy a roll, and each individual towel is used once and then generally is sent to landfill.

The other can be bought without packaging, can be washed, and used again.

It’s like buying paper shirts! Why would you when you can wash the one you just wore and wear it again? And imagine the money you’d save by washing!

So, basically, you can’t compare the prices of the two options because they’re entirely different products. If you’re interested, there’s a lot of options for reusable paper towels on Etsy.


Remind yourself that it’s for your and your kids’ futures

At the end of the day, everything you do, including the choices you make as a consumer, impact your future and the future of others.

Do you want your kids, and your kids’ kids, to grow up on a dry, barren wasteland of a planet? Do you want to grow old knowing that you’re contributing to the extinction of many different species when you could be doing something about it?

Are you considering not having children because of the CURRENT state of the world? It’s only going to get worse if you do nothing.

If you don’t care at all about the futures of others, consider this: what sort of world would you want to be born into? Why not work towards giving others that chance?

Answering these questions should make the decision easy for you.


Consider full cost pricing

Not many people are familiar with the concept of full cost pricing.

It is a system whereby each and every product’s price is not based only on the monetary cost to produce it, i.e. buying materials from a supplier and paying workers and overheads in a factory.

Rather, it incorporates all of these elements with the addition of one important cost: the cost to the environment.

Whilst this is hard to calculate, it can be done and shopping would be very different if it was applied universally.

There are a number of proponents of this pricing system, but while big business is in control, the switch will never be made. But understanding the system can help you to see that there are costs other than the immediately obvious ones.

Disposables probably wouldn’t exist because they’d be priced a lot higher than reusable products and companies wouldn’t make money from them.

Likewise, local products would be much more affordable than something shipped from China. A crazy thought, I know, but it’s true! This is thanks to the environmental cost of shipping a product across the globe, of producing the raw materials that go into the product, and of manufacturing or otherwise producing or processing the product.


Reduced cost of living

The reduced cost of living is likely the most convincing argument for the switch.

Reusable substitutes tend to pay themselves off in a relatively short period of time, and last a lot longer than the payoff period. So, you don’t have to worry about buying them again for ages and ages.

This means that once you get back their value, your cost of living goes down.

Think about how much you spend on cling wrap, paper towels and napkins, aluminium foil, baking paper, paper plates and plastic cups, even menstrual items, and how often you have to buy them.

Once you look at disposables as a whole, it begins to add up. If there was a way you could save the money that you usually spend on these items, why wouldn’t you?

I hope this post has helped you come to terms with spending a little more for a better future. For zero waste options on a lot of products, check out Biome, and Flora and Fauna.

For some easy ways to save money on zero waste products, check out my post on the topic here.

Image credit: Marisa Harris on Unsplash

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