Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reusables to Use

The idea of reusables is great! I love it, it sounds like the way I want to live my life. I've noticed that once I move from disposables to reusables it tends to stick, but making the jump can be a longer process than I like.

We've converted to cloth napkins, they work well for us. We fold them up and put them in our old Mickey Mouse napkin holder and have a basket for used ones. We wash zip locks that didn't have meat in them, especially for bread, snacks, desserts that are frozen. I'd like to build a drying rack for them, but that's for another day. I've switched from disposable feminine products to reusable, some I purchased, some I was able to sew. These all work well and help keep the expenses down and don't add to the growing garbage.

The one thing we still have in the kitchen that I feel a little lame about? Paper towels. They are made to be turned into trash, they cost a lot and are not a needed item, I just want them (I think it might be a comfort and ease thing, again).

Part of my struggle is finding something to use in its place and having the whole start to finish cycle planned. If I don't have it mapped out, it will not succeed, training will be required with my family and friends of our family. So, why do we use them? How do we replace or meet the need?

Messy spills = Good bin to put used ones, absorbency
Covers in microwave = Napkins
Taking food on the go = reusable container
Availability = 20 per week, easily recognized

So my plan will be to make at least 20 cloth replacement paper towels. I think I will edge them the same so no matter what fabric I use it will be easy to know they are our paper towels. What reusables have you found that are simple and work for you?


  1. I am with you on paper towels. For me personally I can take them or leave them but for hubby they are a necessity. For now, we use paper towels but my plan is once we get 'the house' to switch over to reusables (hubby agreed to this as long as what we switch too works well). I love your idea of edging them the same. One other item that I am interested in but hubby has said "NO WAY" is family cloth. hehe. Maybe in the future.

  2. I'm excited to see that you're thinking along the same lines as I: what to do about paper towels? Because I use a lot of them as I cook, mainly to wipe my hands of grease, quickly dry my hands after washing, etc. Just last week I'm trying something new: I bought some towel-size microfiber cloths (from Walmart, in the automotive section). They are SO absorbent that I can very quickly dry my hands with them. I am turning my hand-towels into rags (they were ready anyway)and am going to use the microfiber instead. I'll be interested to see how your new idea works out.

  3. I've got half made, about a half dozen in terry cloth that I zigzag the edges and about a half dozen in cotton and flannel. So far so good, I have a bin to put the used ones in, but no permanent place to put the clean ones. I need to get the rest made this week, hopefully. So far they are working well.

  4. Mostly I use tea towels (cloth kitchen towels) for almost everything. I RARELY use paper towels (one roll every 2 or 3 months), only to line the indoor compost bin when I don't have any newspaper or to wipe up a oil or grease spill (I'd rather use old newspaper but I don't buy them so only have a few freebies). I've gone to cloth hankies and napkins as well. The only disposable paper products we use are tissues for my husband and toliet paper for the household.
    I replaced things gradually. The cloth napkins I bought on ebay (people's unwanted gifts) and my cleaning cloths are old bath towels torn down. That way if I'm cleaning something particularly nasty, I don't feel guilty in throwing it away. And they compost as well since they are cotton. One lady I know uses old undies as dusters as they are so soft (to the embarassment of her family...)