Disposables are convenient, but if you are trying to scale back on your spending and really pinch your pennies replacing disposables with reusable alternatives can really save some big bucks over the course of a year!
Here are a few ways we’ve replaced disposables with reusable alternatives…
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones. My kids use one cloth napkin for several meals before it is soiled enough to have to wash. I like the idea of having napkin rings for each family member so that each person knows which napkin is theirs as they use them until they’re ready to be washed. Be on the lookout at second hand stores for these if you don’t know how to sew your own. I prefer cotton to linen for best absorbancy.
- Replace tissues with handkerchiefs. Just like grandpa’s.
- Use old rags or cut up cotton t-shirts instead of paper towels to do your cleaning. Don’t forget that newspaper is a wonderful, lint-free material for cleaning glass!
- Store mealtime leftovers in sealable containers (preferably glass) instead of using ziploc bags or plastic wrap. Canning jars are a great multi-functional container for such a purpose. Whenever I have something like soup or chili leftover, I pour it into a canning jar and stick it in the fridge for my husband to take to work with him the next day. I also wash and save spaghetti sauce and applesauce jars to store leftovers.
- Use cloth diapers instead of disposables.
- Make your own baby wipes (recipe here) from cotton t-shirts or baby washcloths.
- Try using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.
- Use Wool Dryer Balls, or a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener sheets.
- Washable Menstrual Pads aren’t nearly as bad as you might think. The charcoal cloth ones are my absolute favorite. There are some really cute ones for sale online, or you can find many tutorials for making your own online. A Diva Cup is also a great alternative to tampons. (It takes a little time getting used to fitting it right, but once you figure it you’ll forget it’s even there!)
- Stop buying disposable baby products! I’m talking about tossables like spoons, cups, bibs, placemats, etc. Just bring something washable with you if you’re going out, along with a wet bag to store it in until you can wash it.
- If you are in the habit of buying paper plates for your family to eat off of, for heaven’s sakes use your dishes!!
- Sometimes you simply have to buy plastic cups and utensils for large gatherings like potlucks or birthday parties. There’s nothing wrong with washing these items to save for another get-together, so don’t be ashamed to have your guests save their cups and forks! Many of these are even dishwasher safe, so no excuses for not re-using the goods.
- The same goes for ziploc bags. Sometimes they are just nice to have. Especially for freezer meals. If you just can’t live without them, at least wash them to use again!! I’ve used the same bags for multiple items before they wear a hole in them. I’d caution against re-using bags which have stored meat in them, but other than that they’re perfectly reusable.
- Instead of spreading aluminum foil over baked dishes, I simply invert a cookie sheet over any casseroles that require covering while cooking. Works like a charm.
Just think of how this stuff adds up! We are such a wasteful culture, aren’t we? If you are in the habit of buying disposable products for convenience sake, it’s time to step back and re-think how you can make better use of reusable alternatives.
I’m sure I’ve missed some things, so help me out! What are some ways that you replace disposables with permanents in your home?