Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thriftology Thursday--Dispose Of Disposables

March 7, 2013

Welcome to Thriftology Thursday. Today I wanna talk about one of the biggest wasters of a household's funds--


You know--paper towels, trash bags, diapers, paper plates and cups, even toilet paper, are all things that you buy only to throw away. As a result, the household budget is maimed.

Hopefully, I will give ya'll a few pointers to get ya started, and then I KNOW ya'll are smart enough to take it further and figure out a bunch of other ways to cut down on disposables in your life.

First--paper plates, cups, and napkins. While I believe that for really large events these products are okay to use--to use them every day just because you don't like to wash dishes is DUMB. It doesn't take more then a few minutes to do the dishes from a meal.

The cost of individual plastic utensils, cups, plates and paper napkins may seem nominal. However, if you look online and do the math, even a cheap set of disposable dinnerware (and seriously--who wants to use the really cheap stuff? It falls apart and you end up with food in your lap), can run about a buck per place settin'. Say you have a family of four or more folks. That's at least four bucks per meal, with three meals a day, 12 bucks per day, and add in snacks that can happen any number of times per day...

You are spendin' over $20 a day on dinnerware. After a month...?

See? D-U-M-B.

Even when we go campin', I use real dinnerware, includin' cloth napkins, stuff bought at yard sales extremely cheap, and if broken, they are easy to replace. I take two plastc basins and wash the dishes after meals. I'm hopin' to invest in a few actual 'mess kits' like we had in the military. These sets include a canteen, metal cup, utenstils, and a plate that can also be used as a skillet.

Movin' on to one of my pet peeves--paper towels.

Advertisers have convinced folks that paper towels are the only thing that can be used to clean with, and MUST be used to drain foods on.


I use old t-shirts that have been cut up to clean with. They are soft, lint free (so they are good for windows and mirrors), and they do a good job of cleanin' when used with a simple all purpose cleaner. Just toss them into the wash, dry 'em and you are ready to start over.

As for drainin' greasy foods--when I was in Korea many years ago I saw street vendors use many different types of paper products to drain fried foods on. I saw a LOT of computer printout paper used to drain foods and to make cones to hold said foods.

I use the Sunday paper to drain fried foods on, just like my granny and other older relatives did. Don't use the colored inserts--they don't absorb as well, but the black and white pages work great. About once a month or so, I spend around $2 for a Sunday paper--and when they run a special, I get TWO for the price of one. I read it, I cut out coupons, do the crossword, etc, and then I pile the paper on a counter off to the side to store until I need it. A typical Sunday paper lasts me at least a month. I don't fry a lot of foods, but I do some craftin' that requires papers on the table to make cleanup easier.

And NO--I have never gotten sick from usin' this method.

As for diapers--yes, my son is long past the age when we used diapers, but I recall how expensive the disposables were, and how easy it was to use and care for cloth diapers.

I did a search, and there are so many sites out there that can help you figure out which diapers are best for your child, how to wash them, and how to even make travelin' while usin' cloth diapers easy.
I understand that if you have your child in a daycare or church nursery, you may be required to use disposables. If you save  money by usin' the cloth ones at home daily, then the costs of disposables for the occasional use can be offset by quite a bit.

Now--here is where a lot of ya'll are gonna freak out on me.

A few years ago, I found Angela Coffman at the GROCERY SHRINK ( She had a lot of great ideas, and when you join her email list, you get a great set of recipes for homemade cleaners (try the citrus cleaner--you will LOVE e'm!).

One of the meails Angela sent out had her story of how her family got out of debt. In the email, she mentioned 'washable toilet paper'.

Okay, I thought THIS I gotta ask her about. The reply I got was simple. She just cut decent sized squares of flannel cloth, kept them in a basket by the toilet, and when they were used, they were dropped into a small plastic trash can used specifically for that purpose. when there were enough, the cloths were poured into the washin' machine and then dried and placed back into the baasket. She never touched the cloths, and her family saved a  lot of money each month.

It made sense, so I asked the Redneck about tryin' it. He said fine, but he would opt out. So I went to work.

I didn't use flannel, since I didn't have any, but Ihad a ton of t-shirts that had been given to me. I cut the squares, polpped 'em into a basket in the bathroom, and placed a small plastic bucket with a lid (sort of like a diaper pail) on the floor.

I haven't  looked back since. Now, the Redneck still uses regular paper, but since niether I nor my son do--our costs have gone way down. There is no smell, the cloths are sturdier than the paper, and I think they actually work better for cleansin'.

Okay--if you are still with are, right?

Trash bags. Is there anything MORE insane than buying something for the specific purpose of THROWIN' IT AWAY? Just toss that cash into the garbage--it's gonna end up there anyway.

First--try to cut down on your trash by buyin' fewer packaged foods. Recycle whatever you can--cans, bottles, plastic and paper. Compost your peels and other vegetable matter, or donate it to a community garden that composts. Get off junk mail lists. Use a shredder to cut up your documents, then use the shreds for cat litter, compost, or paper mache (heck, go on YOUTUBE and learn how to make handmade paper for craftin').

When you DO need a trash bag--use empty feed bags for your cat or dog (I use empty horse feed bags), grocery sacks, pottin' soil sacks, etc. I even made a washable trash bag for small trach cans once--just stitched a small t-shirt across under the arms, cut off the excess, and placed it in the little trash cans by the bed or desk. when they are full, pour the contents into the household trash, and replace. If they get soiled, pop 'em into the wash with the towels.

As for feminine sanitary products--there are many different products out there that are safe and easy to use. Luna Pads, Glad Rags, and patterns for makin' your own washable pads are all over the internet. If you prefer something even simpler--look up the Diva Cup.

Hopefully, I have given ya'll a new perspective on disposable products, and you are even now figurin' out ways to replace them with brilliant ideas. Please, share these ideas in the reply section.

Well, I got chores. Later ya'll.
© 2013 by Evelyn Edgett


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