I started this blog over a week ago, and I’m already getting lots of inquiries on how I’ve reduced my garbage. So, I thought I’d intersperse my more serious posts with some practical posts as well.
Let me first start by saying, that there are only two of us in the household, myself and my daughter who is seven. Regardless, if there were another adult, I don’t think it would make a huge difference in terms of garbage because I’ve made sure to replace most things disposable with reusable.
The first change I made was with napkins, facial tissue and paper towel. Growing up, my parents were frugal to the point of splicing up folded paper napkins into single layers to make them last longer, we never used paper towel, and my Dad would berate me if it took more than one tissue to blow my nose. Needless to say, I grew up with a keen awareness of wastefulness.
One day I was browsing on Etsy, which is a great place for finding eco-conscious people making hand-made reusable items, and I came across people selling really cute cotton napkins. A light went off in my head, and I dug through my fabric stash for leftover ends of my favourite fabrics. Not only was making napkins something I could do easily, it gave me something to make out of my favourite scraps that I could enjoy everyday, yippee!
The napkins I made weren’t the full-sized 16-inch napkins for your formal dinner table. That would be too big for everyday use, and would add up to a lot of laundry. I simply took a metre of fabric which already comes folded in half, and folded it in half lengthwise again so you end up with one long length of folded fabric. Then taking a squared up edge, I just cut the fabric up into squares by folding triangles and cutting along the edge – like cutting a square out of a rectangular piece of paper. Quick and easy, no measuring, and it should give you 12 to 16 napkins about the size of facial tissue, which is big enough. Then simply hem up the edges and you are done!
Well, you might be asking, does it make for much laundry? Heck no. If I throw the napkins in with the weekly load, it barely adds up to a t-shirt. I also find, if you aren’t eating messy meals, you might use the same napkin for the whole day before tossing it in the laundry basket, so it’ll be even less. No garbage, barely any laundry. It feels good!
And of course, you don’t have to stop at napkins. You can do this for your facial tissue (otherwise known as hankies!), and for your paper towels. Find a really soft fabric for your hankies, and old clothes and sheets make great towels to have handy for wiping. Make sure all fabrics for your projects are 100% natural, and organic is great too if you can. You can also choose from knits, flannel and terry as well. I like to make a set of dark colours and a set of light colours for everything, so that I’m always washing no matter which load of laundry I am doing (I only do laundry once a week).
But here’s the real unexpected benefit to using your own hand-made reusable stuff, and it isn’t just in the feel-good about eliminating most of your paper-based garbage, the trees you are saving, or the money you are saving by skipping the tissue/napkin/paper towel aisle at the store….
How often have you gone out to buy disposable paper products and had fun??? Did you oooh and ahhh over the colours and patterns, feel them for softness, discuss their absorbency and tell your friends how excited you are about your next purchase? Did you plan a trip to the store just to buy the exact colours to suit your mood or style? When you got them home, did you show them off to your spouse, express how excited you were and how you couldn’t wait to use them? And every time you did reach out to use one, did you have warm, fuzzy feelings inside?
Making your own stuff brings you pleasure that buying manufactured disposable products don”t. Disposable products, meant to create convenience, kill creativity, excitement and enjoyment. Making your own stuff, or buying hand-made if you don’t sew, brings that back to all the little things you do. At least, that is what I am finding.