The most asked question I had during the Plastic Free July Challenge was ‘Is it expensive to live without single-use plastic?’ Well, the answer depends on the cost of food and other products where you live and how much you were spending to begin with. So let’s take a look at why my answer is that it is not expensive to live plastic free. In fact, I save a significant amount of money.
According to Central West Gippsland PrimaryCare Partnership, the average family in Baw Baw Shire with 2 adults and 2 children spends $600+ on food alone per week. This includes all your takeaways, snacks, eating out, and so on. So for one month this would equate to $2640.
Before I began living plastic free the cost of my groceries, takeaways, snacks, toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning products, and anything else that goes into running a house was $2020. It seems I was already spending less than average for my area, especially if we remember my costs include more than food.
During Plastic Free July my spend was $1416 – I saved $604!
UPDATE: Twelve months after writing this post I reviewed my household expenditure again and there was only a few dollars difference ($1437). I am still saving a significant amount money.
Initially, the savings were surprising because it felt like I was spending more money. Partly because I bought some things in bulk and more organic things than usual, but also because when we switch products we become really concerned with the cost, whereas we don’t really think about it any longer for our regular purchases. Some of the food I buy now is more expensive than my old choices but I can afford to make those choices because of all the savings in other areas like personal care and household cleaning products.
In addition to this saving I still have supplies that will add to the saving over time. For example I have a year’s supply of toothbrushes, 50 rolls of toilet paper, plenty of cleaning supplies, kilograms of nuts, oats, flours, and so on. Imagine the results when I’m growing more of my own food!
So there you go. As well as saving money the benefits have been eating healthier, being friendlier to the environment, and all the spinoffs that come from those three main things. Personally the mental health benefits that come from being the change I want to see and living in a way that matches my values is the best! It’s a feeling of freedom, of being outside the madness looking in – knowing that I don’t have to live feeling like I have no choice.