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Frugal Tip - Avoid Disposable Items

Updated on August 10, 2019

Are you wanting to save money? Most of us are. Not many of us have money to spare. That means, most of us are looking for ways to save money. That come in a variety of forms and from more resources than you can imagine. Did you know that disposable items can be costing you money?

Disposable items are hidden money stealers that make sense to have yet rob you blind.

The Ease of Disposable

Disposable items are popular becuase they make our lives easier. We don't have to wash the items, or they can be lost of trashed without us losing a ton of money. Glass storage containers or expensive plastic ones are guarded heavily due to their cost to replace. Disposable items cost pennies in comparison.

Instead of washing dishes after a gathering, we can toss the paper plates and the plastic utensils in the garbage. We aren't spending time slaving in the kitchen. We can socialize.

Disposable items make our lives so much easier and less stressful.

Desire for Convience

Our lives are driven for convience. We want anything that makes every step of each day easier to get through. We don't have to wash so many dishes. We spend more time out of house and more time having fun. A new appliance comes out to make cooking faster. We snatch it up. A new item helps us shower faster. We buy it as fast as they can make it.

We look for it. We actively search for it. Convience is worshiped by us which is why it is easy to steal money from us so easily.

Results of Tossing Disposables

Having all these disposable things makes our lives easy which is good, right? Yes, but it comes at a cost. The convience doesn't come free.

Waste - Disposable items are filling up our landfills. We use the items once to make our lives easier and then toss them in the garbage where they end up in a landfill. Once there, they take decades to decompose if not longer. The cost here is in pollution.

Money - Disposable items have to be bought time and time again. Yes, three dollars for the stack of paperplates is much cheaper than real first. After awhile, you could have bought a few of the cheap real plates at the local dollar store. Over and over, you are purchasing these disposable items.

The cost is high no matter how you look at it. The "in the moment" convinence costs you a lot in the long run. Let's look at even more hidden disposable costs.

The Hidden Cost in Take Out

I found this wonderful article about the real cost of your take out or to go items that we seem to buy all the time. You are not just paying for that pizza and the labor to make it. You are paying for the box.

The article noted that take out food costs include the actual items to make the food, the labor, and the "plates, napkins, food containers, plastic flatware, condiments, cups, lids, etc." (

You are purchasing dinner to make your life easier, but you are paying for more than food and labor. You are paying for items that you will turn around and throw away.

Now to look at how you can save money by avoiding disposable items.

Disposable versus Reusable

Paper plates versus hard plastic plates. To many, they are both disposable, but in reality one is disposable and the other is meant to be reusable.

Yes, I know the hard plastic plates take forever to break down in landfills, but you aren't meant to send them there as they can be used over and over just like real, breakable plates. It comes down to purpose.

Let's use the example of a picnic. Paper plates are meant to be tossed as soon as they are used. The hard plastic ones need to be washed, but they will not break like real plates do. You won't have to worry about the little ones or the accident prone spouses knocking them to the ground to see them shatter. You wash them and use them again without breakage.

Plastic storage containers are meant to be reused. Don't toss them after one use. You want to be able to save money without fear of losing or breaking the items and how much replacing the good stuff will cost you.


  • Paper Plates - We have touched on this item already, but I wanted to make sure it was on the list in case you reference this again and just look at this section for a reminder. Choose hard plastic plates that can be reused. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Storage Containers - Instead of using sandwich bags, use storage containers. I know a lot of sites push the bags as a way to save money, but the vast majority of people just toss them. They are less likely to toss storage containers. Choose plastic ones in case they are lost or knocked to the floor or choose glass ones that are more durable and last longer.
  • Coffee Cups - We are always grabbing coffee on the go. That means disposable cups. Why not use a travel mug you can use over and over? Many coffee shops will fill your own mug for you instead of using their paper cups. Also, you can make coffee at home and take it with you on the way to work in that same travel mug. That saves you money all the way around.
  • Paper Towels - Most of us don't think of how we could save money by avoiding paper towels. We probably think that is imposslbe. But why should we use paper towels and not cloth towels? All you have to do is toss the towel in the wash and reuse it later. There are no more items for the landfill and you don't have to keep buying them.
  • Coffee Filters - Whether you are using a standard coffee maker or the K-cups, you can reuse filters to save you money. There are reusable ones that can be easily washed and used again. You save money and waste in the landfill.
  • Straws - This one has been on the news a lot lately. In fact, many stores are now serving their to go drinks with sipping cups. Take your own travel glass instead with your own metal or hard plastic straw or with a sipping top.
  • Water Bottles - While most water bottles in bulk are cheap, they add up in the landfill and in removing cash from our wallet. Use your own reusable bottles. There are several that only cost the same as a case of water at the store. One time purchase that saves you lots of money each money.
  • Grocery Bags - Do you use plastic bags at the grocery store? What do you do with them afterwards? Most toss them. That's more in the landfill and the cost of those bags are found in the cost of the groceries you buy. As more shoppers use their own cloth bags that can be used over and over, there will be less plastic bag cost added to the groceries.
  • Prepackaged Food - When you purchase cauliflower cut up at the store? You end up throwing away the packaging material. You pay $4 or more for the cut up vegetables, but buying the whole head of caulifower and doing it yourself would only be $2.50. You are paying for the ease of having it done for you. Food prepared for you typically costs more than if you did it yourself.
  • Plastic Utensils - We use plastic utensils so big gatherings are easier to clean up. Okay, using them once a year for a family reunion is one thing, but using them on a regular basis costs you money. Why not use a real utensil and just wash it? One time purchase saves you cash.

The Art of Recycling

If you do use disposable items, look at how you can recycle them so they aren't a full waste. The act might not save you money at the moment, but it helps you and the environment in the long run. If you partner with someone, you might save money on products and services.

Coffee filters - Find someone who has a worm farm or grows mushrooms. They can use coffee grounds and paper filters in their hobby or business. Some gardners might enjoy the pieces as well.

Plastic bags - Give them to recycling centers. Reuse them to carry lunches or dispose of pet waste.

Talk to your local recylcing center or check out the links below to help you find ways to recycle your disposable items.


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    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      2 years ago from North Carolina

      Very good tips! Thank you for sharing!

    • anidae profile image

      Anita Adams 

      2 years ago from Tennessee

      This is a good article that shows how we can save money. I really like to use glass storage containers with snap on lids instead of using the plastic ones. I do wash and reuse the plastic freezer bags unless I have put raw meat in it -- those I throw away. Thank you for an interesting article.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We are big believers in recycling as much as possible and cutting down on waste. Your article is a good one!


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