13 Easy Ways to Make the Switch from Disposable to Reusable
One of the great things about using cloth nappies is it tends to encourage the journey into more reusable items. Over our time of using cloth, which was probably the only serious reusable item in our home 13 years ago, we’ve made the switch in dozens of other areas and I want to share some of them with you today.
If you’re already doing all of these – go you! Let us know in the comments what we could add to this list. But perhaps you’re not too far into your reusable journey yet. Well, it’s Plastic Free July and a fab time to start! Pick one today and make it happen. #plasticfreejuly
Sounds really simple, right? Cloth nappies = cloth wipes. But when I first started using cloth nappies, I was using disposable wipes with them. Then my mum suggested using a face washer instead. I asked her what I would do if I needed to go out and she told me to just dampen the cloth and keep it in a plastic sandwich bag.
You’ve probably guessed what came next…
Reusable bags might be all the rage now, with entire businesses dedicated to producing a wide variety of sizes and styles, but it wasn’t something my mum had heard of, and was only just on the peripheral of the cloth nappy industry at that time as well. It didn’t take long though to make the switch from that plastic sandwich bag to a mini wet bag. The rest, as they say, is history, and our family now uses reusable bags for all manner of purposes, including groceries, toiletries, a first aid kit, library books and gym gear.
Liners are another item I started out with in the single-use form, but quickly made the switch to fleece, as it was just as effective and they could be used over and over again without continual cost. If you’re curious about the cost breakdown of reusable v disposable liners, you can check out our blog post HERE.
Cloth pads were an early switch for me, and I’ve never looked back. I started by making my own and have used a number of brands over the years, all of which have been excellent. I love that cloth pads are largely produced my hand-makers.
This was another quick change for me, after the disposable kind became sweaty and sticky and stuck very uncomfortably to sore and cracked nipples. When I first started using cloth nursing pads, it felt like a much more luxurious choice than single-use and again, there was no going back.
By the time my first baby was needing training pants, I knew enough about reusable products to never even contemplate the disposable kind.
Our first baby was in a Pavlik harness for 6 months, so swimming wasn’t possible for a while there, but once it was we somehow stumbled on a reusable swim nappy that wasn’t amazing in terms of design or functionality, but it did the job so we never had to purchase disposable swim pants. In addition, the swim centre where I took our first children for lessons explicitly requested that we not use single-use swim nappies, so we went on to find (actually, create!) a better option for our other babes.
The changes in our parenting led to changes in other areas of the house and before long, we were using un-paper towel in the kitchen. I love sewing, so I made my first batch using a tutorial which I can no longer find online, but THIS is another good one. You can also just use rags, old nappy inserts or tea towels, but if you love to sew, making your own can definitely add a little luxury to your kitchen.
I haven’t purchased a roll of baking paper in more than 8 years! These days, I have a couple of reusable baking sheets, but I also keep my butter wraps which are a great alternative to single-use baking paper and work well inside loaf or cake tins.
10 years ago, we made the switch to washable kitchen cloths which I wash every day with whatever is going through the machine. I find this much more hygienic than the kind that sit on your bench for a couple of weeks before being thrown away, and far cheaper in the long run.
We tend to purchase meat in bulk as it ends up being a lot cheaper for our big family, so instead of purchasing dedicated freezer bags to split it all up into, I keep my bread bags and use these instead. It’s not a multiple-use reusable switch, but it does give a throw-away item just one more useful purpose.
There’s something really delightful about using a cloth serviette. We have several sets which I’ve made from some of my favourite fabrics and they’re simply thrown in with the regular washing each day.
Keep Cups and Water Bottles
If you’re thinking about items that you can switch around the house, take-away coffee cups and water bottles are a really simple starting place. Our car doesn’t leave the driveway without at least half a dozen full reusable drink bottles and it’s saved us hundreds of dollars on bottled water over the years.
So there you go. 13 really easy ways to extend your reusable journey into other areas of the home. Let us know in the comments: what would you add to this list or where will you start?