Monday, January 25, 2010

The High Price of Convenience

When we lived in the camper while building the house we used lots of disposable products for convenience's sake. Not only are disposable items expensive but then you have to deal with the trash. Living in the country you don't have city trash service so you have to figure out how to get rid of it. It's a lot easier to reduce the amount of "stuff" that comes into the household than it is to get rid of it once you're done with it.

I've been trying to whittle down the amount of disposable items we consume in our household. We've eliminated paper towels for the most part (every now and then Marc buys some cause he likes them). I use only dish cloths, cloth kitchen towels, cloth napkins. I wash them all separately in hot water so I know they're clean. I have lots of them so I always have fresh ones.

I love using the Swiffer Sweeper but I was cleaning yesterday and didn't have any of the mop refills... what to do? I figured I could make some reusable ones out of old towels. I had some towels destined to become rags (some would say they've been rags for a long time) so I measured, cut and serged them up into cleaning cloths which fit the Swiffer Sweeper perfectly.

To make your own, measure and cut old towels into pieces 8 inches by 10 inches. Be sure to cut off the selvedges and hems. Serge the edges. Either tie off the threads or apply Fray Chek (which is what I used).
Other ways to reduce your consumption of disposable items include:
  • using old-fashioned glass refrigerator dishes (Pyrex, Corning Ware) and jars (canning jars or repurposed mayo jars, etc.) instead of plastic baggies and plastic wrap. I have a turquoise Pyrex refrigerator dish of Mom's that must be at least 40+ years old and still going strong
  • sew or buy cloth or recycled plastic grocery bags to eliminate those plastic or paper grocery bags from the store
  • get a "commuter mug" for coffee or other drinks such as water
  • OK, if you're squeamish or a guy don't read this one - cloth "pads". After all, what do you think women used 50 years ago??
  • cloth diapers (see Stephanie's by clicking on her blog link above) and baby wipes. Stephanie made wipes using 8x8 inch squares of cotton velour, serged the edges together using a complimentary thread color. Not only do cloth diapers save tons of money but the amount of waste in the landfill is staggering.
  • A friend gave me a hand-knitted cotton dish cloth. It's almost too pretty to use, but it really works well. She also gave me crocheted pads that look a lot like Brillo Pads - they're crocheted out of tulle or net. Hard to believe that they're hand made and they go in the washer (but not the dryer) and they don't scratch.

Got any good ideas? Please post them!

1 comment:

  1. I love that you're using renewable resources instead of all the disposable stuff! I've been trying to reduce my use of that for awhile now. Not having a car is a major step and one that I'm lucky enough to be able to take. The amount of waste Americans create is staggering. I love reading about your country life adventures (yes, killing a pig is quite the adventure for us city folk!). I will definitely use the swiffer idea - I do love my swiffer! Take care, Kathy Oh, and the baby is darling.