You would not believe how much money we throw away in the trash. Today, while dashing into that big superstore for a new dog collar, I thought I’d see exactly how much money I save by not purchasing paper products. The answer—a lot! You can find ways to save money too.
In fact, if I bought every paper product I could think of to make my life a tad easier, I would spend another $36.60 per month. With that much money, I could sponsor another child with Compassion International.
How To Live without Paper Products
So you can get a better look at how I live without paper products, let’s look at what I don’t buy, and what I use instead!
1. Paper plates
Bottom line: my boys know how to wash dishes.
2. Paper towels
A large family always has a bag of clothes to pass on. But before any clothes go out the door, I pull out stained or faded T-shirts, old socks, and anything else made of absorbent material and cut out the flat sections. I cut the socks down their length to flatten. I have a deep drawer in the kitchen designated as the “rag drawer” that I store them in. I use these rags in place of paper towels to clean up spills and messes throughout the house. And unless they are covered in grease or something else I’d rather not have in my washing machine, I rinse them out and throw them in with the towels. I also recycle bath towels, wash cloths, and old sheets this way.
3. Paper napkins
I like to keep a cotton table cloth on my dining room table. When I quit using paper products, I replaced paper napkins with cloth ones. But before purchasing new ones, I repurposed my stained table cloths by cutting them into napkin-sized squares and zig-zagging the edges. If you do not have table cloths to recycle you can always purchase fabric to make your napkins, and still save in the long run. That’s also a good idea if you want to have a set for company. Napkins too soiled to continue using go into the rag drawer.
4. Swiffer mop/broom sheets and duster covers
I own a broom, a dustpan, a good Pro-Twist yarn mop by O’Cedar and a few micro-fiber towels. My boys know how to use these, too. Enough said.
5. Facial tissues
We use toilet paper. I keep a roll in the kitchen, too; not just for wiping noses, but for wiping out greasy pans.
6. Disinfecting wipes
I keep a cellulose sponge and a spray bottle of vinegar solution in the bathroom. Each morning the vanity and toilet get a spritz and wipe. The sponge is washed out with hot soapy water and set out to dry.
7. Cloth diapers
One more way I encourage young parents to save is to use cloth diapers. All six of my babies enjoyed the feeling of cotton on their bums and I enjoyed the savings in my bank account. Today, a package of quality disposable diapers costs almost $10. According to my sources (because I can’t remember back that far) that package would last almost a week. So by using cloth diapers, a young family could save about $50 a month—if they only had one in diapers.
I could never use cloth diapers and continue using disposable baby wipes with a clear conscience. To replace baby wipes I bought several bundles of low-quality wash cloths at that superstore. I simply tossed the used cloth into the pail with the diapers. Also, if you don’t use baby wipes you don’t need to buy a baby wipe warmer for another $25—because every baby deserves a warm changing experience. Like everything else we wear out around our place, diapers and wipes that need to be replaced go into the rag drawer for cleaning up spills.
That about sums it up. We have an adage around here: use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
I’d love to hear of ways you are doing that in your home; or additional ways you live without paper products. What are some things you don’t buy or for which you don’t pay full price? Feel free to share in the comments.