Ditch the Disposables!

Paper napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels…the cost of all those disposable conveniences really add up! Do you really need to use all those paper goods? Let’s ditch the disposables!

Alternatives to disposables

Cloth Napkins

I must have at least 50 cloth napkins – assorted colours and prints to match my dinnerware patterns, and to switch around for the seasons. There’s also the sets of white linen napkins – probably 2 dozen that were my mom’s, and get used for formal dinners. The everyday napkins just get tossed in with the rest of the laundry, and get hung out on the clothesline most of the year, or on the drying rack in the winter. It’s no extra work to wash and dry them! And once they become stained or tattered, they become…

Rags to replace paper towels

A package of 6 rolls paper towels lasts me almost a year, and I use the kind where you can rip off a half-sheet. The only time I use them is for draining bacon, and washing windows or mirrors. I tried using newspaper, but a.) I don’t get the newspaper anymore and b.) the ink left black marks on the white vinyl around the windows. Old cloth napkins, face cloths, hand towels and tea towels all get recycled into rags for dusting, cleaning, gardening and washing the cars. I will do a small, separate load of laundry if I have a bunch of rags that still have some life in them. When they are beyond hope, they get tossed.

Real plates and cups

It’s been years since I bought paper plates and throw-away plastic cups too. Once in a while, paper plates are handy when bringing food to a party or as a palette when I am mixing fabric paint, but otherwise I use the real thing. Everything (except the vintage Blue Heaven dinnerware pictured above and the bone china) goes into the dishwasher. Most dinnerware, cups and mugs are dishwasher safe – just be sure to check the label.

Metal and/or heavy duty plastic utensils

instead of flimsy, disposable plastic. I do have some heavy plastic utensils which I had gotten a long time ago. When I did use them for bringing lunch to work, they came home in my lunch bag to be run through the dishwasher with the rest of the load. For dining on the patio, I have heavy duty plastic plates, bowls, tumblers and wine glasses that match the heavy plastic utensils – all of which are dishwasher safe. So far, the set has lasted over 15 years, and shows no sign of wear. For all other meals, the real stuff comes out!

Cloth bags

to replace plastic and paper bags from the store. This isn’t necessarily a money saver, but I really hate plastic bags! I keep a dozen cloth grocery bags (that I made myself from “rescued fabric”) in the trunk of the car and another dozen in the pickup truck. I’ve gotten into the habit of using them every time I go grocery shopping. Some towns – like the town I used to work in – have banned stores from using plastic bags. They use paper bags, but the cloth ones are so much better!

What disposables have you eliminated from daily use?