Save Money on Paper Goods and Household Disposable Items

Paper Goods/ Disposables - Money Savings Tips

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Learn a bunch of tricks from frugal friends for saving money on stuff around your house. If you have a secret way to save that’s not listed on this page, please leave it in the comments and we’ll include it.

1. Reuse Zippered Bag and Save

Wash out your plastic zip lock bags and use them over and over again instead of throwing them away after using them only once. They last a really long time.  
Sandy L. – Phoenix, AZ

2. Trash Bags Stashed Nearby

A black trash can full of crumpled yellow paper.

Save time by storing a roll of plastic kitchen trash bags in your garbage can under the trash bag that is currently being used.  When the bag is full, take it out and tie it up. Then just reach down into the plastic can and take out your next bag. No wandering around the house looking for trash bags. Keep an air freshener down there with your roll of bags and even your trash will smell better.   Peter Meola – New River, AZ

3. Disposable Cutting Mats for Free

I salvage clean plastic / waxed paper bags from cereal boxes when they are empty. They are great for use as a disposable cutting mat for chopping veggies and easy to discard.   Beverly Maynard – Mesa, AZ

4. Plastic Grocery Bags Recycled

I’ve found a few of great uses for all of those plastic grocery bags that I’ve accumulated.

1) Use them to line small wastebaskets. It makes them very easy to empty.
2) Use them to collect “garbage” when cooking or baking. Place egg shells, wrappers, discarded fat, etc, in the bag while cooking, tie closed, and toss it in the trash.
3) Take them to my local park and put them in the dispenser for dog lovers to use when they pick up their doggie waste.   Jennifer D. – Bayard, IA

Editors’ Note: Many kitchen scraps such as egg shells and veggie trimmings can be added to a compost pile.

5. Reusable Party Plasticware

A Donald Duck coffee cup with plasticware stacked in it.

I like to “re-use” plastic ware for parties primarily “kids birthdays” & other casual events.
Although some may think it a bit odd – we wash and reuse plastic knives, forks, and spoons. I like having these on hand – even for picnics etc. I don’t want to store a large quantity, so re-using cuts down on what I need to keep on hand. Plus I’m not “re-spending” each time I need these items. Bonnie H. – Phoenix, AZ

6. Paper Items Recycled

I use cloth napkins for everyday use. I use paper napkins for casual small group gatherings, which saves on the amount of laundry I need to do.
Pauly Heller – Phoenix, AZ

Related Article: How to get blood out of sheets and clothes.

I also save the little notepads that come with charity requests. those become little enclosures/ notes if I mail an item to someone. Donna Burham – Salem, MA

7. Save Old Business Cards for Dinners

Old business cards make great place tags for dinner guests.

We use old business cards and kid’s theater tickets for place cards during the holidays. Just flip them over and fold them in half lengthwise to make a tent. Then write your guests’ names on the side that faces everyone so they can find their seats. This works great when entertaining, even if it’s not a holiday but you want to have a fancy dinner. Annette Economides – Scottsdale, AZ

8. Re-using Paper Towels?

A wadded up, used white paper towel. Save money - reuse old paper towels

I have tried to use really inexpensive paper towels but always come back to Bounty’s “Select-a-Size.”  My smart daughter-in-law does something I have now copied. Next to her sink, she has a decorative ceramic container that she puts lightly used paper towels in — i.e. those used in zippered bags with veggies and fruit. They are crumpled up and dry quickly.

Later, when there is a pot or dish that needs to have grease or sticky residue wiped out or a mess on the counter, sink, or floor to clean up, these are the paper towels she uses. My husband and I do this now, and I notice that our rolls of paper towels last much longer. Sally Jones, Boerne, TX

We reuse paper towels that have been used to absorb water from freshly washed vegetables. We simply leave them out for a day and they’re dry and ready to use.
Rick and Jane Schell Eagle, ID

9. Cut Your Paper Towels in Half

Cutting a paper towel roll in half with an electric knife.

I was reminded of this while reading a recent newsletter and tip about paper towels.

We use paper towels sparingly. The sheet size on most brands we’ve found is just too large for most of our uses. Here’s our simple solution: when we open a roll of paper towels my son gets out the electric bread knife and cuts the roll in half. The roll lasts twice as long and we waste less paper. We do the same with fabric softener sheets, just cut them in half with the bread knife. Jody Sanders – Fort Myers, FL

10. Phone Books Help with Kitchen Clean Up

Instead of throwing out the out-of-date phone books,  keep them and tear out several pages at a time. Store them in a big plastic cup under your sink. Use these sheets instead of paper towels when you peel vegetables, etc. You won’t buy paper towels nearly as often. S. Cooper -Palm Springs, CA

11. Plastic Containers & Care Packages

Save your empty margarine tubs and other plastic containers so when you send leftovers home with friends and family you don’t have to worry about getting “Aunt Tillie’s” antique casserole back. Beverly Clarke – Pembroke Pines, FL

12. Wash Your Hands at Work – Save Paper Towels

Save paper towels from washing your hands. Reuse at home. Save money

When you wash your hands at work, dry them with a paper towel. Afterward, save the paper towel. I did this for a year and have a couple of shoe boxes full of “clean” paper towels that we use in the kitchen for spills and in the workshop for cleaning up greasy items. Steve Economides – Scottsdale, AZ

For more savings at the grocery store, check out our Shelf Items Page.

If you have a tip for saving money on Paper Goods and other Disposable items please mention it in the comment section below.

Please check out our Pinterest Page for lots more Money Saving Tips Around the Home

4 thoughts on “Save Money on Paper Goods and Household Disposable Items

  1. Ruth


    I started looking for these alternatives mostly because I was tired of purchasing the items month after month but it’s rewarding to know that what’s cheapest for me is also helping the environment.

    Google is a really rich source of ideas. I found lots of articles on how to reduce single use items. By gradually implementing the ideas that we found, our household item budget reduced. We’re a family of 5 and we can currently get by with about $25 of consumable household items per month. Previously, we spent a minimum of about $50-75 per month.

  2. Ruth

    My favorite way to save money on disposable items is to eliminate as many of them as possible. Most of them are unnecessary.
    We use cloth napkins, cleaning rags, and cloth towels, instead of paper napkins and paper towels.
    Instead of ziplock bags, we use reusable sandwich containers. They work better than ziplock bags (no more smashed sandwiches), and are easily washed and reused.
    Plastic wrap can be eliminated by purchasing bowls and containers with snap on lids. A metal pan like a cookie sheet can be used instead of aluminum foil.

    Feminine products can be replaced with modern washable options such as the Diva Cup. They work better and are safer than traditional products and can be reused for about 10 years.

    Instead of paper plates, we just wash dishes. Plastic picnic plates work well for picnics and can be washed when you get home.

    The purchase of garbage bags can be reduced or eliminated by not generating as much garbage and by carefully separating garbage types.

    We try to reduce packaging and we compost, burn, and recycle. The few pieces of trash that don’t fit in any of those categories aren’t messy and therefore can be trashed without buying bags for that purpose. We use about 2 garbage bags per month, because our recycling method requires garbage bags. Previously we used multiple bags per week.

    Vinegar, baking soda, and water all work great for household cleaners and are cheap and non-toxic.

    These tips and others, have cut our consumable household purchases down to 50% of their prior level.

    1. Steve Economides

      Ruth, You guys are phenomenal conservers and recyclers. We especially love how you went from multiple garbage bags per week to a couple per month – the landfills are going to be much happier because of your efforts.
      Keep leading the way to better conservation!!!

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