Saving the planet doesn’t always come cheap.
Many of the disposable products we use and love are easy to buy at lower prices than their reusable counterparts.
But the convenience of disposable products often comes at a steep cost to the environment. Plastic bags and straws pollute the ocean and end up being ingested by sea animals. Disposable diapers take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills.
Reusable products often cost more up front, but you may be surprised to find out how soon they end up paying for themselves since you can use them again and again instead of buying more of the disposable versions.
9 Reusable Products That Will Save You Money Over Time
We took nine household products, searched for both reusable and disposable versions on Amazon and compared the costs. Here’s how they stacked up.
Editor’s note: The prices in this post are valid as of Sept. 23, 2019.
Diaper prices can vary widely. For example, cheap (read: leaky) store-brand diapers cost just a few cents each, while Pampers can set you back $40 a week. The same is true of cloth diapers.
For this comparison, take a cloth diaper costing $4.50 and 16 disposable diapers at 28 cents each, and the cloth diaper has paid for itself after 16 diaper changes.
Multiply that over two years of a child’s life before potty training, and there are major savings to be had by reusing cloth diapers — many of which have different settings that adjust to your baby’s growth.
If you’ve never heard of dryer balls, they’re little wool balls about the size of a tennis ball that you throw in your dryer with your wet laundry in place of fabric-softening dryer sheets. Because the wool can absorb some moisture from your clothes, manufacturers claim they cut down on energy use and drying time.
They can also save you some pennies. A set of six reusable wool dryer balls costs $7.97, while a box of 240 disposable dryer sheets costs — wait for it — a buck more. This one’s a no-brainer.
Listen up, gal pals. We’re here to tell you that you are not — we repeat, NOT — doomed to pay an exorbitant monthly fee for tampons and liners and pads (not to mention Midol) simply for the privilege of being female.
With a box of 40 tampons costing $6.47 and 38 pads ringing in at $6.97 times every month of your adult life, it’s … a lot. So consider this: One pair of Thinx period underwear is $23, and a Diva cup is $24.48.
Did you even know there was a reusable alternative to those little pods of delectable, life-giving coffee? There totally is!
While a box of 40 Starbucks K-Cups will set you back $28.36 (OUCH), a set of four reusable pods that you just refill with your favorite ground coffee runs $9.95.
Razors are synonymous with disposable. A box of 100 of the plastic ones: $17.90. A single chrome reusable safety razor (that will make you feel like Don Draper): $12.66.
You do have to replace the blade on the reusable one. Don’t worry, they’re cheap. A box of 100 is about $7.
A stainless steel straw costing $.75, or $5.99 for a set of eight, is equal to the cost of about 19 disposable straws at 4 cents each. That means that after 19 uses, the reusable straw has essentially paid for itself — plus you’ve got seven more left over.
This set of six reusable sandwich bags costs $9.99, while a box of 280 Ziploc bags runs about $8.38.
Think about it this way: The first time you replace that box of disposable bags, you’ve nearly bought another whole set of the ones you could be reusing.
Translation: Refill your bottle 72 times and then you’re done paying for water entirely.
That’s a considerable up-front cost, but these products — and really all reusable replacements — are all about long-term savings.
Not to mention tossing a little less waste in the landfill.
Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Senior editor Molly Moorhead contributed to this report.