Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Paperless, and less paper

Every once in a while, it's worthwhile to remember the basics of what I don't spend money on.  Tomorrow I'm going to write about some paper that I actually paid for, on purpose.  Paper I spent real money for, and am glad I did.  But for much of what happens in my family life, the question "paper or plastic?" translates into "neither, thanks".  Keep the wallet fat and the trash can empty.

This is nothing new.  This is a review.

Shopping bags.  Cloth and canvas bags follow me on my shopping expeditions, whether to market, to yard sales, or even to our CSA pick-up site.  (My husband brings home plastic bags, however.)  My hands-down favorite bags are our t-shirt bags; they're sturdy, they hold a lot, and they're not as bulky as canvas bags.

Napkins.  We use cloth napkins.  Every family member has his or her own special napkin ring, so we only wash napkins every once in a while, when they actually get dirty.

Paper towels.  Not.  We use rags, stored discretely in decorative baskets around the home.  By now, even my husband is a convert.

See those paper tissues nearby?  Cloth tissues work well, too (I think they feel even nicer), and throwing a used cloth tissue in the laundry hamper is no harder than throwing a used paper tissue in the trash.  Most people in my family use paper, but some of us (okay, just me) uses cloth at times.

Paper plates, plastic cups, plastic tableware . . . if you have to ask, you don't know me at all.  We've got a well-stocked, if motley, collection of thrift-shop tableware and mugs we haul out for parties.

Note pads, fancy shopping lists, telephone pads . . .  another "not".  I keep a box near the telephone of "pre-cycled" paper, meaning paper that snuck into my home that has ink only on one side.  We use the blank sides, of course.  Some of these pieces of paper I cut into fourths for grocery lists and telephone messages.  Others, I fold in half and staple together to make "books" my kids can write in.  And other large sheets get used for homework help, for leaving notes, for just about anything, really.

Saran wrap, aluminum foil . . . just putting a plate on top of a bowl is often good enough.

Ziplock bags . . . we use some of those for freezing food (although fewer, now that I know to can).  But saved cereal bags and other re-purposed plastic bags often do a good enough job, especially for food not headed for the freezer.   For lettuce, a damp towel is even better for preserving the green than a plastic bag.

For most paper products that sit on the store shelves, my response is no, thank you.  I'm indisposed to disposables.


  1. I just made my own supply of cloth tissues yesterday. I'm strangely excited over little cloths to blow my nose on, but the thought of not needing to buy/throw away tissues makes me happy. My mother thinks I'm insane, but oh well.

  2. Wow, great minds think alike! I do have a supply of paper plates and such, but those are more for emergencies than regular use. By emergency, I mean like the time our well's water pump broke and we were without running water for five days. Dirty dishes stack up and stink and draw bugs, etc. Paper is lovely at times like that. I just inherited my mother's huge supply of lovely handkerchiefs. I asked all the other girls in the family and nobody wanted them. I use them all the time and love cloth, so much easier on the skin, especially when I have a cold. Great idea using the T-shirts for bags! I have used cloth and canvas bags for a long time for lots of things. Keep up the good work.