Many of us use disposable products. Sure, they can make life easier, but the cost and associated waste can really add up! And in an emergency, there may be no way to resupply those items. Save yourself some money, reduce waste, plus be ready for an emergency with these twelve simple alternatives to common household disposable products!
1. Napkins. Make your own cloth napkins. Lovely. Plus you can pick your own patterns! Or buy cloth napkins in the kitchen department of most stores. You don’t have to save them for special occasions.
2. Paper towels. Use kitchen towels or dish rags. But if you want to get really crafty, there are some great tutorials here on making your own un-paper towels that actually fit on and dispense from a paper towel holder. You can even purchase them from various sellers on etsy.
3. Paper plates. Just use real plates and wash them. If you want something that can take more abuse than ceramic, try a melamine plate like this cool camo set. Or stock up on wood or metal plates available from reenacting suppliers like Jas. Townsend, or occasionally found in thrift stores or at yard sales.
4. Tampons. Holy cow. One girl can use a lot of these in a month! Replace them with a menstrual cup like the Diva Cup.
5. Maxi pads. Ditto above on using a bunch of these in a month. You can replace pads by making your own. Here is a great video tutorial that also shows how you can sew them by hand if you don’t have a machine. Cloth pads can also be purchased from companies like Glad Rags.
6. Diapers. There are tons of patterns and resources for making your own cloth diapers at diapersewing.com. You can also purchase cloth diapers from various manufacturers like BumGenius and Charlie Banana.
7. Baby wipes. Super easy to make, plus you can make use of all the extra flannel receiving blankets! Again, if you don’t want to sew, you can also purchase cloth wipes.
8. Toilet paper. Okay, this isn’t one I’m dying to jump into replacing on a regular basis, but for an emergency it’s good to have a back up. One alternative is to use cloth “family wipes”–similar to the cloth baby wipes. Keep a lidded bucket of vinegar water next to the toilet to put the wipes in while they’re waiting for their turn to be washed. You can also rinse off like a bidet using a perineal irrigation bottle (those who have given birth will probably recognize this one).
9. Swiffer style duster or mop cover. Here is a crafty cover my mom knitted with a link to patterns for knitting and crocheting your own duster covers. Or go back to a regular broom and mop for cleaning your floors.
10. Cleaning wipes. I honestly knew a family once that did not own any wash rags. They just used wipes. Wipes for cleaning the children, themselves, and the surfaces in their home. To replace all those cleaning wipes, use wash rags or make rags from old cotton clothing like t-shirts and socks. Knit or crochet yourself some dusting mitts. Again, this is my crafty mom making this stuff, although I have learned to knit a square, like this fish dish rag that could also work for a cleaning rag.
11. Grocery bags. Let’s go to the store, shall we? I’m sure you’ve seen the reusable shopping bags most grocery and variety stores are encouraging their customers to use. You can also bring your own bag of any kind to put your stuff into once you’ve bought it. Or make a shopping bag from about 70 (or more) plastic shopping bags. Yes, mom made one of these as well. Here are some instructions for making your own.
12. Produce bags. You know, the plastic bags that you pull from the roll in the produce department? You can make your own bags to replace them. You want to use lightweight fabric that the checker can see through to know what you bought. Or purchase reusable produce bags.
What about you? Do you have any disposables you’ve replaced with more sustainable options? Share in the comments!
Keep preparing! Angela
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Thank you for posting this. I can see the valor of having sustainable, reusable disposables for long-term and everyday use. But in a dire emergency, the idea of paper plates and disposable wipes is priceless! It’s what gets you through those times!
Very true. As long as you have a supply of them, for short term emergencies disposables are super convenient!
Most people I know already do this. Start saving containers you get when buy items like baby wipes tubs, bakeries goods, ice cream tubs, butter tubs, deli food, soft drinks bottles, shoe boxes, dairy products, produce boxes,etc., will help save you money from having to buy containers to store items in.
Laura Jeanne says
I’m new to your blog, and I look forward to becoming a regular reader – you have a lot of good information here. :)
As for alternatives to disposables – I have used the Diva cup combined with cloth menstrual pads for many years. I will never go back to disposable pads, as cloth is much more comfortable and definitely cheaper. I bought a fairly large collection of organic cotton Luna Pads probably 4 or 5 years ago and I am still using them. It’s even cheaper if you make them yourself. I love pads made using cotton flannel, which you can get in all kinds of cute prints.
The diva cup is awesome too – very convenient for when you want to go out but are not having a nice day in that way, if you know what I mean. :)
I also use cloth toilet wipes for #1 only. This cuts down on toilet paper considerably.
I also have used cloth diapers in the past, and made cloth napkins. I admit I do use paper towels a lot, because my kids are spilling things constantly and paper towels allows them to clean up their own messes without much help from me (no need to use the sink).
Cam Stapel says
Reusing coffee filters: Put in new filter. Cut a I” band off the top of a cool whip container. Cut the lenght to what ever you need to have a way to snap the band in so it will stay. My reservoir has a ridged area to strengthen the handle, works great! After Brewing your coffee, flush the filter clean. Dump ALL the grounds down the drain (good for the sewer). The filter should remain in the reservoir ready for the next brew. I change filters once a week.
I guess I will be tacky here as was the term used in the south where I was raised–instead of these small cloths that are waaaay overpriced, why not use the washcloths in my closet that I have stored? DG, 18 cloths for $4! Still that price as I saw them last month.
Cam, hush your mouth….:-) those grounds go on the garden!!! LOL!!
Now, to regain a little respect here. Every now and then, I set aside a little time to cut old, used clothing into strips. Years ago this would have gone in the land fill, so I feel good about what I am doing. Yes, girls, I love my paper towels and tp–but I know there will be a time when we won’t have that regardless of the stacks and stacks I have in storage bought on sale.
A huge box in the attic that holds them and gets added to every now and then.
Soft cloth, like old towels, old washcloths, and outgrown soft shirts, t-shirts, etc. For those rough fabrics, they are rags for harder surfaces!!! :-)
Note: regarding above post; be sure to get a good set of pinking shears to cut those cloths.
To be honest, the ‘cloth pad’ sent me into an hour long ‘started out confused went on curious, ended satisfied and piqued’ chase on youtube on this girls channel which tells you everything you need to know about them. I don’t know why I didn’t know about them earlier, but I’m tempted to maybe give it a try?