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Topic: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones (Read 178 times) previous topic - next topic

Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
So, I thought that it would be fun to have a thread where we share product ideas that help in making the switch from disposable to reusable products. As I've continued to cut back on single use products, I've continued to dig up information and I love to talk and share with others, on what works the best and where to find alternative products.

My initial goal in eliminating disposable products as much as possible was to save money. Replacing disposable products with reusable items definitely is saving me money, but I'm also experiencing other benefits as well.

We used to produce several bags of trash per week, which necessitated frequent hauling (with permission from the company, we dispose of trash at my husband's work, rather than with a garbage service). Now I take out the trash maybe once every few weeks and it's only a few items. Between incineration (we just got a burn barrel), recycling, and composting, plus not using a lot of common items to begin with, there really isn't very much to haul away.

I've become very aware of things and am re-evaluating things. For example, cabin air filters in vehicles. Recently when I got an oil change, I was told that my air filter needed to be changed. Traditionally, that means throwing away the old air filter and replacing it with a new one.

 I just found out that it's possible to get a reusable air filter and avoid the expense and waste that comes with changing the air filter.

I also found out about reusable produce bags. I hate plastic bags, so I'm all for taking reusable produce bags to the store when shopping. One less item to have to figure out what to do with!

I'm thinking about ordering these:

I also decided on no more plastic grocery bags. I cleaned out the drawer and bundled up a bunch for my husband to take back to the store for recycling and will not be getting any more. I have reusable grocery bags and will be using those. The plastic bags just take up space in my house and then I have to figure out what to do with them. I'd rather have the drawer space for something else.

Awhile back, I realized the cost of ziplock sandwich bags. I pack my husband's lunch most days. They are expensive and if you use 4 or 5 of them in a single packed lunch, the cost quickly adds up. But I was never a fan of washing and reusing ziplock bags. I discovered Sistema sandwich containers. They are very easy  to wash and very effective and eliminated the recurring expense of ziplock bags.

I pack sandwiches in them and other items as well. I have a set of 4 and that seems to work well since my husband is the only one who regularly takes a packed lunch.

I also discovered Snapware at Meijer's. (bowls and containers with snap down lids) That has eliminated the need for plastic wrap and is much more spill proof for travel.  I have a variety of Snapware containers and they are much more convenient for traveling and church dinners than plastic wrap. No more spills in the car!

For napkins, I have a basket in the middle of my table with cloth napkins. People can take one if they feel that they need a napkin and I don't set them out with the place setting.

In my kitchen, I have a variety of kitchen towels, rather than paper towels. I have a basket on my counter with my kitchen towels.

On the dryer, I have a basket with a variety of cleaning rags. I like microfiber rags and cotton rags the best.

For feminine products, I use the Diva Cup, paired with cloth pads. I switched over to a menstrual cup in 2003, so I haven't regularly used disposable feminine products for over 13 years. My primary motivation to switch was the fact that I disliked conventional products and found them expensive and uncomfortable. The environmental benefit was a nice bonus.
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #1
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #2
I think this is an interesting topic and is very good if you have easy access to running water and washing machine to keep reusable things clean.  Many disposable things can be made from fabric: diapers and covers, wipes, and as you said cloth napkins and kitchen towels. For us it is better to just get the disposable things for now, as we haul our water. If you had a solar system for power and water from a well that you didn't have to pay for water, then investing in those things would save money. In my mind though, I must consider whether the time I will spend in cleaning the "reusable" things and the cost of cleaning is worth the cost. I'd rather spend $3-4 per month on some paper napkins than wash two loads worth of napkins per month. I would save bread bags, grocery sacks to use as lunch bags or for stinky diapers or for trash liners so those things don't go to waste for me. Cloth diapers would be awesome but until my hubby gets the water hooked up and a washing machine, it would be difficult to keep things clean enough. Eventually though I may switch to them especially to help the older ones get trained to use the toilet. Containers from berries or baked goods can be used for lunches as well. Peanut butter and spaghetti sauce jars (or any jar with a good lid) can be used for storing dry goods or for canning if the lid seals.

I think all the ideas you have shared are good. I have a diva cup too but haven't used it yet. Reusable lunch containers can be a very practical way to reduce waste. 😀

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #3
I think that circumstances definitely play a part in decisions made. For us, water is very abundant (we use a well and therefore don't have a water bill) and our income is modest.  I did cloth diapers when my children were in diapers and it did save us a lot.

I've also noticed that my monthly household supply costs have dropped dramatically and that's worth doing a little more laundry to me but I might make a different choice if I had no running water or clothes washer.

Everyone has a different situation, for sure.

Not all ideas will work for everyone but it's fun to gain inspiration from others. :D
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #4
Yes! I look forward to the time when some things are more accessible to me but to us we would rather sacrifice a little and be in our own place than to rent from someone else. 8 1/2 years ago our equity was just $7600. Now it's multiplied about 26x just by developing a property and making a little profit. We've done that a few times and the Lord has blessed. As  soon as we get a few rentals going we will have a self-sustaining monthly income and once we finish a couple properties we are working on we will be able to get into the house we want to with minimal debt. Then my focus will be to become as fully self sustaining as possible--reusing things, growing my own's a valid discussion in our country because SOOO much is wasted here. We should think about how to stretch the dollar in our given circumstances. I believe it honors God to be good stewards. Keep up the good work Ruthie!

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #5
Also in the times in which we live it is good to learn how to be as self sustaining as possible. We never know when the economy might crash or some disaster happen that will limit the availability of food and supplies.

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #6
Good for you! It sounds like you guys really have a well thought out plan to get into a good house.

We're looking forward to home ownership as well. Every bit of money saved is one step closer to our goals of finishing our full emergency fund and ultimately getting our down payment together for our home in the country.
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #7
One item that's easy to get reusable is muffin liners. Rather than buying paper ones, we use silicone baking cups. They work really well and can be washed and reused.
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #8
Yes I have some of those. They are an essential for gluten free baking!

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #9
I made apple cinnamon muffins this morning! Yum! And super easy too! I like how easily the muffins come out of the cups.
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #10
Yummy! 😀

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #11
I've started saving my containers from the store such as peanut butter jars, berry containers, tomato containers, glass jars, etc. There is a store near us that sells lots of bulk items and allows you to bring your own containers.

So that could be a great way to avoid waste, just skip the packaging altogether and bring your own repurposed packaging from home!

They have a machine that grinds nut butter on the spot and you can bring your own jar. They have beans, grains, and nuts in bulk dispensers. They have a machine that mills oats right on the spot too!

They have a dispenser that dispenses local raw honey. I'll be bringing Mason jars for that.

I like the idea of just avoiding new packaging to begin with. It seems more efficient than recycling.

I get non-dairy butter spread in sticks now and keep it in a glass butter dish. That prevents having to recycle plastic tubs.
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

Re: Replacing disposable items with reusable ones
Reply #12
I found some washable cloth sandwich bags at a Whole Foods store. These will be great for packing oldest DD's lunch for her hikes!

Amazon has cloth sandwich bags too.

It's amazing how little I need to spend on consumable household supplies. We don't have to buy garbage bags, ziplock bags, paper plates, aluminum foil, paper towels, napkins, etc.

My consumable household supply purchasing mostly revolves around stuff like soap.
~Ruth, wife to Tim since 11/6/05 and WAHM to Hannah (11), Micah (8), and Abigail (5)

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