Frugal Idea #1. - Eliminate as many paper consumables as you are comfortable with.
Notice I did not say as possible, because there are a few paper consumables that are possible to eliminate that I am just not comfortable with yet. *Though I make it a point to never say never anymore - Because I have previously and adamantly said no to most of the things on my current list.*
WARNING: I am about to get very personal here. You are probably going to find out things about me, that you may never have wanted to know. Also, I know this list is not going to be for everyone. We all do different things to cut costs, and that is what makes sharing our adventures so much fun!
I looked for a list of paper consumables on the internet, but was unsuccessful, so I will just let you know what we have replaced around here.
|These diapers were made as a gift and aren't made out of t-shirts or receiving blankets.|
The first thing I replaced was disposable diapers. This was something that terrified me for years. I would research and then chicken out. It seemed like a good deal, but just too gross to tackle. Then there was the upfront cost. Since I was starting this with my 4th child and not my 1st it was hard to see purchasing diapers as a real long term investment. But after some encouragement from a friend we took the plunge. It's not for everyone, and it's certainly not glamorous, but it has worked really well for us. I ended up making all, but a couple of our diapers out of t-shirts and receiving blankets, so our investment was minimal. We still purchased a diaper sprayer and covers. I also had to buy things like elastic, PUL and snaps to make the diapers.
#2. BABY WIPES-
If you are using cloth diapers it's actually easier to use cloth wipes. You can just wipe their little bums and then throw the wipes in with your diapers. I tried to continue to use disposable wipes for a while, but it wasn't very practical. I always found myself wandering around with a befouled wipe in my hand looking for an appropriate trash receptacle to throw it away.
#3 PAPER TOWELS-
The cloth "paper towels" at our house are just squares of cut up receiving blanket. I had quite a few blankets from my own kids and then had some graciously donated by Sarah when she found out I was turning them into other things. I use the cloth towels just like you would a paper towel. If the spill in question it too gross for me to consider washing and reusing - I just throw it away. I know that that is not super "green" of me, but I'm doing this for the savings first.
With all the other changes, napkins just seemed like the logical next step. I used receiving blankets for everyday, and then "real" cloth napkins, from when we got married, for company. Just yesterday I made some new everyday napkins that the girls and I are going to embroider during "Pioneer Days." Those are the ones in the picture.
In case any of you are wondering, after using the cloth towels
and napkins, I throw them in a tiny lidded trash can in the kitchen.
When it is full I wash them with a load of towels.
#5 ok...now...deep breath....MENSTRUAL PADS-
I seriously considered not putting this one on here. Now I feel like when I see some of you face to face, you are going to be wondering "Is she wearing one right now-ewwwwww!?" But I'm trying to keep it real, and part of being real is being vulnerable. This one was my biggest mental hurdle. Fact is, I didn't even like pads, much less reusable ones. And though I could handle the washing out of poo because, after potty training 3 kids, it was already something I had experienced. Washing out blood, not something I ever wanted to experience. Yet here I am. I could probably write an entire post on this subject alone, but I am going to spare you the details and just give you a few quick reasons that I use them.
a. Cost savings
b. Shorter periods
c. Minimal to no cramps
d. I'm stark raving mad.
|In case you are curious, here is what they look like. |
I have never actually tried purchased cloth pads,
but my homemade ones work just fine.
|Folded up and ready for travel.|
Now these are the things we are doing. The next one that I will probably add to my list is cloth kleenex. I am ridiculously uncomfortable with snot, so a hanky is out of the question, but cloth kleenex I just might be able to deal with.
Now I know some of you are probably thinking, "How much does a person actually spend on Kleenex, paper towels, napkins...?" or "How much would I actually save by doing any of this?" The answer - I have no idea. All I know is that if I'm not buying something I'm saving money, even if it's only $5 a month by foregoing paper towel purchases.
Also Sarah mentioned in the comments earlier that some friends of hers had to discontinue using cloth diapers because of their water bill. This really peaked my interest. I certainly didn't want to be saving money in one area only to be losing in another, especially when poo is involved. So I checked our water bill. Our water bill went up $3.00 a month when we started doing cloth diapers. It has gone up another $4.00 since this summer. I'm not sure what changed in the summer, but there you have it. I wash the other cloth things with loads I would have been doing anyway, and I don't think they make too much of an impact. So, for us, the water cost doesn't outweigh what we are saving, but that is something that you would need to examine for yourself. In case it makes a difference, we just have a regular old washing machine - it is not high efficiency. Now as far as the impact the water usage has on the environment vs. less waste in the landfill - I have no idea. This is just what is working for us right now. In the future, who knows?
If nothing else I hope you enjoyed a tiny peek into my world. I know I am always curious how other people do things in their homes.