Frugal Family

Could you live without disposable items?

Many of the products we use daily are disposable. We don’t think twice before we reach for the kitchen roll or the pack of baby wipes, and just throw them into the bin after use. But what in your home could be replaced with a reusable product? There are many alternatives to nappies, baby wipes, make-up wipes and even toilet roll. But would you be willing to turn completely eco-savvy and take the plunge removing all disposable products from your life?

The list of things that we throw away seems endless. Just think what ends up in your black bin bag daily. How much of that waste could be avoided? Money is being thrown away, and our landfills are filling up fast. Soon our planet, as well as our wallets will be a nasty mess- of misery.

Since the UK carrier bag tax came into effect in October 2015, many people found themselves plunged into the world of reusable carrier bags, and actually scratching their heads at how reliable we have become on these little disposable plastic sacks. Again, it is only a modern convenience that became a necessity. If you have not bought yourself a ‘Bag For Life’ yet, consider making yourself a shoulder bag from an old pillow case, or even ripping apart that old tatty knitted jumper and using the wool to knit yourself a new bag. It won’t take you long, and you may even learn a new skill along the way.

Many people have been caught out at the shops since the new law came into place, with an armful of shopping, and no where to put it, and begrudging that 5p spend for another bag. A pretty cloth bag can be rolled up and stuffed into your hand bag, used again and again, and is washable! If it gets a hole, sew it up, or patch it with an old patch from your punk-rocker days.

cloth nappy week 2015 pretty nappies

The popularity of using cloth nappies has boomed in the last few years, with tricky to fold towelling squares becoming a forgotten thing. They have been replaced by beautifully pattered, easy to wash and use copies of their disposable partners. The internet is now full of cloth nappies with budgets to suit all. And no nappy change is complete without baby wipes. Baby wipes are a relatively new invention starting out in the 1950’s, and not much has changed from their design since then. The napkin sized wipes are often scented and alcohol based. With cleanliness and nice smells, comes a price.

Baby wipes contain a cocktail of chemicals that can irritate soft sensitive skin. We are advised to use cotton wool and plain boiled water on the delicate skin of a new born, but cotton wool is still a disposable item. Instead take the switch to using cotton wipes. I started my cloth wipes journey using Cheeky Wipes, check them out if you don’t fancy having a go at making your own. Making your own however is inexpensive by creating them yourself by cutting up old pillowcases, t-shirts or towels. These cotton wipes will last you years before replacements are needed. I have not bought baby wipes in 3 years. Relying on my trusty cotton wipes, and a quick dampen under the tap before use.

Many ladies menstruate and with sanitary pads and tampons being considered a luxury item by the tax man, women are getting out of pocket each month by around a fiver. There are now many options for women to explore which can mean that she will cut out buying these monthly luxuries, from cloth sanitary towels, to menstrual cups, and even crocheted tampons. Once you open your eyes to alternative’s you discover a whole world of options that you may never have known existed. A menstrual cup will cost you around £20. Which shall last you around 10 years. You most certainly would have spent more than £20 in 10 years if you were still buying disposable sanitary items. No more irritating plastic pads, laced with chemicals and bleaches that can slowly poison you, instead make the switch to soft cotton, that’s easy to wash and has cute colourful patterns!

We throw away 350,000 tonnes of clothing every year. These clothes could otherwise be used to make other items for daily use. Such as the baby wipes I mentioned above, or cut up and sewn into new bed quilts, patchwork table cloths or dish rags. And if you really have not got the heart to cut up your old work Christmas party dress from the year 2000, donate it charity. There will always be someone who would appreciate a superb dress for next to nothing.

girly cloth wipes

One final disposable item that we can really live without is toilet paper. Yup. You use it every day, several times a day and you pay quite a lot of money for it, yet you literally just flush it down the drain! The idea of washing ones own toilet paper does turn noses up at the thought, but is it really easy and after a couple of days, you really won’t miss that scratchy old paper. Your bottom will be blessed with soft cotton, and a quick wash in the machine, its ready to be used again and again. OK, it’s not for everyone, but it’s worth considering if you really want to save some money, and the planet… one wee at a time.

As you can see, there are lots of little changes that you can simply make to your day to day living that will soon save you some big pennies. You start to eliminate more chemicals from your life, your health improves and you start to view life a little bit differently. For the better.

And that money that you saved from not buying loo roll, treat yourself to something special with it instead.

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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