Recently, we talked about the benefits of going paper free and why it’s a great idea to opt for reusable options. However, that doesn’t help you in the practical sense. If you are like me then you want to know HOW to go paper free. Preferably in a nice easy to read, list form.
Because I want you know not just know the benefits of going paper free but I want you to actually be able to make that switch, I’ve come up with a few ways to go paper free. You can either dive right in and replace all your paper products at once or you can take things slowly and change them one by one to give yourself some time to adjust to this reusable way of living.
Paper Free Kitchen
Cloth Napkins instead of Paper Napkins
Personally, we like to keep a drawer full of washcloths and use those to wash the kids’ hands and faces after meal times. The adults just tend to wait till it’s time to do the dishes and clean up then. However, guests will most likely need some sort of napkin solution and therefore it’s good to have cloth napkins on hand for them at the very least, although having cloth napkins for the family is always nice as well.
Towels or Unpaper Towels instead of Paper Towels
You can go the lazy way and just use kitchen towels instead of paper towels like my family does or you can go the unpaper towel route. Unpaper towels are really like large cloth wipes but often times they snap together so that you can store them on a paper towel holder. They also tend to look prettier than just a bunch of rags. You can buy unpaper towels from many places such as etsy but if you are the DIY type you can also make them yourself. In the same vein as paper towels… when you need something to clean up grease or something else that you know will just likely never come clean afterwards, you can use old t-shirts that you’ve cut up. You’ll still throw these away but you won’t be creating new waste as those old t-shirts were likely to end up in the trash anyway.
Real Dishware instead of Paper Plates
I won’t deny that there are still times in my life that paper plates are just the logical choice… camping, road trips, etc. However, for the day to day life there is really no reason that you need paper plates. Choose real dishware instead. You might have to do a bit more washing but it’s cheaper than buying paper plates and you’ll create less trash.
Coffee Filters – Reusable Filters or French Press
This is one paper product that I completely forget about as I am not a coffee drinker. However, just like everything else in the world there is a reusable alternative to the paper version. Just check out these cloth coffee filters! Are you more of a less muss and fuss person? They go with a french press, making coffee is a breeze and there is zero waste involved.
Tea Bags – Reusable Tea Bags or Tea Infuser
I drink a lot of tea so I understand this problem. Tea bags are convenient but they also create waste…they also add up in the cost department. As a reusable option, I recommend buying loose leaf tea (which is much cheaper than bagged tea) and going with cloth tea bags or a tea infuser.
Paper Free Bathroom
Menstrual Cups instead of Tampons
Men, there’s no need for you to bother with this product! Women, you are definitely going to want to check menstrual cups out! I went a decade and then some on tampons and now I am kicking myself for not switching to a menstrual cup sooner! If you are interested in learning more about why you’d want to make the switch then I recommend checking out my post on how to have a more natural period.
Mama Cloth instead of Pantyliners
Mama cloth or cloth pads are the reusable option to pads or pantyliners. Now I know that might seem gross to you but it’s really not. Washing them will sanitize them and their health benefits will have you ignoring any gross factor. I’ve got a great post on all the reasons why you’d want to use mama cloth and how to go about making that change.
Family Cloth/Toilet Cloth instead of Toilet Paper
Okay, I’ll be honest family cloth (or more aptly named toilet cloth) is probably the hardest paper alternative for people to think about. Family cloth is the cloth version of toilet paper. I have no idea why it’s called family cloth as that seems to conjure up images of the family all using the same piece of cloth (ew!) but in reality toilet cloth is the better term as all it is just a bunch of pieces of cloth that are used instead of toilet paper. You use it once and toss it in a dirty bin where it waits till it’s washed and sanitized. If you are looking to buy some family cloth, these ones have always been on my cloth wishlist.
Cloth Diapers instead of Disposable Diapers
Babies spend a lot of time in diapers. This means that they are also sitting in chemicals for 24 hours a day for the first few years of their life. As a parent, you also spend a pretty penny on all those disposable diapers that you just end up tossing into the trash. Cloth diapers are the affordable way to go and they are safer for baby and the environment. I have a lot of posts on cloth diapers and my post on why you’d want to cloth diaper is a great place to start.
Cloth Wipes instead of Disposable Wipes
Much like cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers, cloth wipes are the better option instead of disposable wipes. You’ll limit the amount of yucky ingredients that baby is exposed to and you’ll save a bit of money in the process. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Handy Tip: Hang your used towels somewhere to dry before tossing into the laundry basket. This way they do not mold or mildew before wash day.