To cut waste and save money you can reuse more at home than you might think. Kimberly Dawson rounds up everyday items which can be reused or substituted over and over.

Zip lock bags

Convenient little things, the zip lock bag was the brain child of Steven Ausnit who fled communist Russia to America in 1947. Most people use and throw this single-use item, but you can also wash and reuse these over and over, extending the life of one box for up to a year (don’t forget to recycle used bags in RedCycle bins at Coles or Woolies once they are no longer useable).

Hot tip: wash the bags in warm soapy water then stick to your kitchen window. Once dry they will fall down by themselves. Alternately, wash and peg on the line until dry.

Savings: $73 yearly

Silicone bags/pouches

If you are ready to take the next step, consider purchasing a product like Stasher Bags which can be infinitely re-used, diverting waste from landfill. The initial investment is around $12 – $20 per bag so gradually acquiring over a few years would be within the means of most families.

Cleaning wipes

If you’re throwing out your kitchen and cleaning cloths every week or two then you are as good as throwing money down the drain. Kitchen cloths such as Chux Superwipes can be washed and used over and over again. Better yet, use old rags for cleaning and wash without purchasing kitchen cloths at all.

Hot tip: keep a separate bin or container in the laundry for tossing cloths in once used. You can then wash all once full and return them for reuse.

Saving: $109.50 yearly

Cling wrap

Unfortunately, you can’t wash and reuse cling wrap (unless you want to send yourself loopy trying to get it to restick!) but there are a range of options to help you give up this single-use nasty:

  • Give it up: use containers, bowl covers or beeswax wraps.
  • Substitute: Agreena Wraps make a reusable and recyclable 3-in-1 wrap which replaces cling wrap, aluminium foil and baking paper.

Saving: $12 – $50 depending on use per year

Baking paper

Baking paper is a staple of any modern kitchen. You could of course do without it altogether and just grease the trays like the ‘good old days’, but we know it’s hard to let go of the convenience.

Rather than the throw away type of baking paper, invest in a good quality silicone baking sheet which can be washed and reused indefinitely. If you’re keen to eliminate both plastic wrap and baking paper, you can invest in the Agreena wraps mentioned above which replace baking paper, cling wrap and aluminium foil. These wraps are more flexible and can be used to line loaf tins and wrap around dough while you are leaving it to rest.

Saving: $12 – $30 depending on use per year

Bin bags

This might make us unpopular, but you can do without bin bags altogether. How, you ask?

By separating wet and dry waste.

Dry waste can go into the bin by itself. If you compost, you won’t have a lot of ‘wet’ waste. Put any meat scraps or ‘uncompostables’ into an old bread bag in the freezer to throw out on bin day.

If you’re not composting and you have a large amount of food waste, things can get a bit trickier. Wrap any food scraps in old newspaper before placing in the bin. Freeze meat scraps in a bread bag and dispose of on bin day. Then simply hose out your bin at the end of the week.

If you’re not ready to give up bin bags altogether you can:

  • Learn how to make a paper bin bag in this video by Boomerang Bags
  • Reuse the same plastic liner over by tipping the bin contents into your big black bin
  • Purchase a washable, reusable bin liner: such as the Planet Wise Pail Liner which was designed with baby nappies in mind.

Want to learn how to compost food waste? Check out the Live for Less article on composting here.

Savings: $30 – $50 per year