Thursday, January 23, 2014

What kind of disposables do you use?

Good morning, dear readers. I have a question for you.

My next article for Backwoods Home Magazine will be on the subject of replacing everyday disposable items with their reusable counterparts. The idea is that if we wean ourselves off disposables and start incorporating reusable versions now, not only will this save money and reduce our garbage output, but it will be useful for if and when the bleep hits the fan because we'll already have our reusable items on hand.

So what I'd like to do is get your ideas for what kinds of disposable items you use on a regular basis. A short list might include:

• Paper napkins
• Paper plates
• Plastic cutlery
• Plastic wrap (Saran Wrap, etc.)
• Toilet paper
• Disposable razors
• Feminine hygiene
• Paper towels
• Disposable diapers
• Facial tissue

What else can you suggest? And if you have a reusable alternative for your item, please let me know that as well. This way we can all contribute to the article!

Many thanks for your input.


  1. - Plastic zip bags (freezer, other storage, snack bags)
    - plastic containers for leftovers (glass would be better)
    - waxed paper
    - aluminum foil
    - parchment paper
    - cotton balls (could use washable/reusable fabric patches or pads)
    - Swiffer cloths (I just use warm water with vinegar and a bit of scented oil in a squirt bottle, and use old rags on my Swiffer mop)

    Other disposable items people use:
    - disposable 1-use dust cloths
    - disposable 1-use window cleaner cloths
    - disposable "wet ones" hand wipes
    - disposable disinfecting wipes

  2. I can add to the list.

    garbage bags
    aluminum foil
    plastic cups
    paper/foam coffee cups
    vacuum bags
    coffee filter
    shopping bags
    wipes of all kinds, for the face and counters
    dish scrubber brushes
    sponges of any kind

  3. canning lids (for those who haven't bought enough Tattlers)
    ziplock bags
    writing paper
    disposable pens
    disposable "Bic" lighters

    1. Ammunition? Are you referring to new ammo? Most serious shooters already reload.

  4. Ziploc bags, coffee filters, paper/plastic cups, baby wipes

  5. We use toilet paper, feminine hygenie, disposable razors, paper towels sparingly, plastic wrap for raw meat/fish/poultry. In addition we do the following: notebooks both big and small - use backs of printer/junk paper & cardboard boxes lightweight such as cereal boxes to make yourself; envelopes - turn used ones inside out or make from old maps, etc. & use a label if necessary; purchased plastic garbage bags - there are tons of bags to use for garbage; newspapers and magazines - many are available on line for a fraction of the cost or at the local library for free;

  6. I have been doing some of these things for years and have saved well over 1000 dollars. The only things I have a problem with is getting my family off paper towels.
    Here is another alternative:
    laundry soap
    straws (I use metal ones and someday hope to get a glass one)
    garbage disposal cleaner (I use lemon rind)

    I reuse and many things find a second life in my house as my craft room can attest to. I even save things thinking maybe I find something on Pinterest to use this or that. I have also found that the less pre made food I buy the less trash I have. I don't buy cookies I just make them.
    Thanks for sharing this post hope you get lots of ideas.

    1. our family was going through paper towels rapidly, I switched over to using white wash clothes, lay them on the counter to use for everything, from drying hands, to cleanups, to anything we use to use paper towels for, when done with it, it's put into the wash with the other laundry. I bought 3-18 packs for $4-5 at WalMart.

  7. The other lists are really good - most of what I would mention has already been listed and I've gotten some great ideas of things myself. We've already eliminated a lot of disposables in our house, but another would be the one-use pie pans and casserole pans. If you know you bake for other folks a lot, keeping a stock of Pyrex purchased cheaply at a thrift store might be a good thing. Some folks will return the dish, but others might need it and re-use it, or gift it to someone else. (You could even include a little note telling them to keep it or fill it with something yummy and bless someone else with it!)

    1. Sharing an idea: If you want to be sure to receive the Pyrex back, you can purchase an etching creme at the craft store and stencil your last name in the glass. The etching creme is reusable, so one jar will do for all one's needs. Nice gift idea, too.

    2. I have tried to etch Pyrex. It just doesn't work. :(

    3. I received a gift of a 9 x 13 clear glass pyrex dish with my name etched in it. It does work on clear pyrex.

    4. My daughter's MIL was teaching etching at a church craft class. They ran out of time, so she asked her husband to take the dishes home & she would etch them later. He is a contractor, so he took them home, laid them out on the lawn, used his sandblaster (the dishes were already prepped to use etching cream), & took them back half an hour later. Unique way of achieving the same objective, I thought.

  8. Cast iron in lieu of the teflon coated cookware.

  9. Aluminum pie pans and casserole dishes - if you know you'll be baking/cooking for others a lot, stocking up on Pyrex at a thrift store might be handy. When you take someone a meal or treat, include a note that says they are welcome to keep the dish, return it, or even better, fill it with something yummy and bless someone else with it!

  10. Batteries, where rechargeables aren't available (like watch batteries) or practical (if a gizmo will run more than a few months on a battery-like a clock or a remote, I use primary-disposable-batteries. You could substitute a memory capacitor (lotta farads in a small space) blocking diode/ tiny solar panel for batteries in some instances-like clocks. Or you could charge the capacitor from any external power source-just don't exceed the voltage rating of the gizmo, or the capacitor.
    For items like clocks that consume very little current, you could build a battery for it-you've seen those "tater clocks"-that's all they are-two different metals, and an electrolyte (the tater). Water will work, too-you may have to add a bit of salt or vinegar. A bit of heavy copper wire, some scrap zinc from a dead battery (or a heavily galvanized nail). Three or four wired in series will power a basic clock, but not the alarm or light features.

  11. Our list would look something like:

    toilet paper
    feminine products
    disposable razors
    garbage bags
    cotton balls
    cotton swabs
    ziploc bags
    aluminum foil
    parchment paper
    plastic wrap
    paper towels
    egg cartons/milk containers
    *Plastic spray bottles (that contain cleaners)
    *Plastic squirt bottles (that contain condiments)

    *I'm always aghast at the amount of waste when I go through and clean out/consolidate those things, particularly since it would be more economical both cost and waste wise to make our own. I sometimes think the packaging surely cost more than the actual product to produce. Catsup, mayo, salad dressing, bbq sauce, etc - all easy enough to make at home, and with much better flavor and nutritional profiles. Mustard might be harder, only because my husband has his "brand" and I've never done it. Home cleaning products recipes abound on this gift of the internet, it's really laziness on my part that I don't use them consistently.

    Many paper things can be composted, too, and I haven't been diligent about doing that.

  12. I use zip lock bags, food saver bags, trash bags (required by my trash service), paper towels (1 small roll a week), cotton balls,and toilet paper on a regular basis. I would find these things hard to give up.
    I rarely use paper plates or napkins, I use baby wipes only if I find a really nasty mess.
    I am in the process of making some feminine pads, so I hope to switch to those sooner rather than later.
    I also use one-use canning lids, but just bought my first batch of tattlers, so hopefully that will change.

  13. Disposable contacts. (I do have a pair of glasses...and multiple backups.)

    1. Same here! Disposable contacts, but multiple glasses back-ups!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Besides what is listed, sterile band aids. I won't give those up until I have to, I suppose gauze sterilized with boiling water would have to be a substitute.

  15. We inherited a (defenseless and useless) declawed indoor cat.
    Litter and litter box liners.

    1. we use pine litter. it can be composted if you are careful. we don't do it as we have no land of our own and we live in town.
      also it isn't as heavy as clay litter.
      deb h

  16. 1. toilet tissue - I don't like to even think of alternative to that :)
    2. kleenex sometimes - husband uses, I use hankies, but I am working on him.
    3. paper towel - rarely, for things like cat vomit or extreme mess. But I suppose I could use a rag and then rinse in the toilet like a cloth diaper.
    4. milk cartons - I recycle or use in garden.
    5. egg cartons - I reuse for seed starting and christmas ornament storing.
    6. newspapers/cardboard pieces - I reuse as garden compost, or recycle.
    7. ziploc bags - on occasion, but I mostly use canning jars for food storing in the refrigertor. I have had bad luck using them in the freezer so that is where I generally use the ziplocs although I don't freeze all that much stuff.
    8. I use a permanent coffee filter.
    9. I rarely use aluminum foil and when I do I try to wipe it off and reuse.
    10. I don't use plastic wrap - I use bowls or jars with a cover instead.
    11. batteries - I generally use rechargeables when appropriate.
    12. husband and I are in our 60's so we don't use things like diapers and feminine hygiene products but I did use mostly cloth diapers years ago.
    13. I use old tshirts and towels and such for rags.
    14. When I did have a Swiffer I just used a rag on it instead of the fancy paper things. But then it broke and I got a good floor dust mop because we have all hardwood floors and I hate dragging out the vacuum for that.
    15. I reuse bottles that had dish soap or detergent in them by giving a little rinse and then filling with water. Then I mark the bottle "soapy water" and keep in the basement for times that water may be turned off for some reason. They can be used for flushing the toilet or other things like that. I live in an older town that has water main breaks frequently.

    1. I LOVE that soapy water idea!

      Just Me

  17. Instead of using paper napkins, I use pretty dish cloths. Wash, dry, re-use.
    Instead of paper towels for clean ups, I went to the local Lowes and bought a bag of scrap rags. Use, wash, dry, re-use.

  18. Patrice, once again, I'm not sure where to send this so I'll put it here. I sent you a list of ideas for continuing your self-sufficiency series to an email address. Did you get it? I don't remember the address, something like It mostly had to do with canning okra and jalepenos, tattler lids and other recipes.

    I also have a couple of new ideas as well.
    1) Converting to raw milk. We picked up a Jersey a few weeks ago and my wife's research says that standard cooking recipes need to be adjusted when switching from pastuerized to raw milk. Also, most of the books we've looked at on cheesemaking and home dairy suggest pasteurization, so will their recipes work with raw milk, or do they need to be adjusted as well? Do you have any dairy product making books you recommend?

    2) Food preserving ingredients: pickling vinegar. Putting Food By specifically says not to use farm(homemade) vinegar with the mother. We could never store enough vinegar for all of our canning needs so what can replace it? What about pickling salt? Pickling Lime? Cheese making ingredients? I do remember your guide on homemade rennet, but what about cultures, cheese salt, paraffin wax, calcium chloride, lipase, etc?

    My email is if you want to reply.


    1. Just look up pioneer cheese recipes.I found a site for those some time ago.Thier cultures were buttermilk and yogurt.

  19. One of the things I learned this year is that disposable razors can be sharpened. There is a video on how to do it on a blog by Caleb Warnock. My current disposable razor has been in service for over 6 months & is still going strong.

    I save old socks & thin washcloths in a rag basket to use for dusting/cleaning instead of the disposables.

    One of the most helpful things I have done is to place a dot of nail polish of any color on the base of any caning jar with a nick in the rim that would prevent sealing. This marks the jars as "dry storage" only.

    Several years ago, I began to save the lids from peanut butter jars. They fit regular mouth canning jars & work great on dried herbs, dried onions, & dried fruit, as well as on pantry jars of things like rice & dehydrated potato shreds. Last year I began saving the green shaker lids from parmesan cheese. They work really well on tall jelly jars or half pint jars holding dried onions, parsley or dill.

    With a few cuts, a milk jug can be cut into a scoop for feed, or spreading compost, coffee grounds, etc in the garden - - anything you want "sprinkled" around a plant. The jug handle remains the "handle", & you just cut away part of the bottom of the jug to make a scoop.

    Like Melonie, I have purchased a few extra casserole dishes for compassionate service meals, for less than the disposable aluminum pans would have cost. If they get returned, great, If not, no problem.

  20. Hmmm, I think most have been listed already. Disposable items we still use in my house are:
    Plastic Wrap
    Ziplock plastic baggies
    Freezer Paper
    Aluminum Foil
    Contact Solution
    Cotton Swabs/Balls
    Milk Jugs

    And one thing we don't use but many people do, deodorant. We use apple cider vinegar in place of it and it works great. Also bandages, we use scraps of fabric to bandage up most wounds.

    But in my house I make my own laundry detergent, I use the Duggar recipe and one batch of that often lasts me several years. Also having a "Mobile Washer" of some sort is good to have if you lose power and need to do laundry.

    I also use cloth feminine hygiene products and used cloth diapers on my daughter. Many people don't realize that modern day cloth diapers are way different than the older ones, while you can make do with less fancy ones, I do have to say that I love some of the modern day covers with snaps, so much better than the plastic pants covers. I did however make my own inserts for the covers using a prefold as a pattern, I just cut out 4-5 layers of 100% cotton T-shirt material, sewed it together and it is far more absorbent than prefolds, and you can get old shirts for cheap or free almost everywhere. Also used cloth baby wipes I made out of scrap flannel and T-shirt material, just wet it with plain water and you are good to go. You also can easily make your own diaper bag, burp cloths, baby blankets, crib sheets, etc. Basically anything that society tells you that you need for a baby, you can most likely make your own and you don't even have to be that skilled at sewing to do it. And we also use cut up T-shirts and flannel rags as toilet paper, aka family cloth. We just keep a bin next to the toilet for it and it gets washed with baby diapers.

    We use old T-shirts cut up for cleaning rags and for rubbing oil in cast iron pans, etc. I sewed my own cloth napkins from scrap fabric. I make my own dish soap out of bar soap, and plan to start making my own soap the next time we butcher a cow.

    Really I think the best thing people can do is to walk through their house and evaluate everything they use and see if they can replace it with some homemade in case they can't buy it anymore. And a good test is to go a weekend "without power" Basically leave your fridge/freezer plugged in and see if you can survive without other power and without regular disposable items you buy, do you have cast iron so you can cook on a woodstove? Can you make do without paper products in the house? etc.

  21. The #1 thing I don't really want to give up is tp. Other than that, I've probably used alternatives for nearly everything, or cut back so severely that it is a shock when I don't have an item (1 trash bag per month or so, and vac bags are purchased every 3 years or so). I carry a coffee cup or mason jar to be a "good example". I am astonished how much attention that one act gets. If they only new what else I do to avoid disposables!

  22. A couple of years ago we had a birthday party for one of my sons and gave the kids our homemade cloth napkins to use. It was amazing to see the confusion on their faces because they never heard of cloth napkins before.

  23. A couple of years ago we had a birthday party for one of my sons and gave the kids our homemade cloth napkins to use. It was amazing to see the confusion on their faces because they never heard of cloth napkins before.

  24. At present my list would include toilet paper, paper towels, plastic food storage bags, and zip lock bags (though I don't NEED them... these bags are really a luxury), paper plates in the summer when I don't feel like doing dishes. I could probably do without any of these except the TP... kind of a necessity for me. I'm sure if it were an emergency we'd manage somehow, but not "happily".

  25. toilet paper, feminine hygiene, toothbrushes, kitchen paper, kitchen foil, clingfilm, greaseproof paper, biro pens, plastic food bags, cotton wool, disposable razors, pan scrubbers, drinking straws. We use rechargeable batteries for the most part.

  26. I reused my glass peanut butter jars by freezing crushed strawberries in them with one inch space and then the lids. none of them broke. I also used the glass Randall mixed beans jars to make homemade Western Dressing in, they are great to shake ingredients before pouring the dressing on salads.

  27. ammo....I can't remember the last time I bought new.... reloading can save you money but more often you just shoot morr.

  28. feminine hygiene products (i use cloth)
    diapers (cloth)
    wipes (cloth)
    coffee cups(big one with people who own the keurigs I've seen)
    coffee filters(reusables)
    paper towels(rags/towels)
    shopping bags (reusable)
    our air filter for our cars. (We use a reusable K&N filter that we spray and clean and it also increases our mpg a tad)
    vacuum bags- (we switched to a bagless system)
    wrapping paper (we totally used recycled paper(newspaper/kids drawings/shipping paper sent with other things) this holiday season)

    Learning in NY

  29. Don't have much to add, but I have been meaning to incorporate beeswax-infused cloth in our lives, to replace Saran Wrap and ziplock bags. Have the supplies, just have to get 'er done.

  30. Based on your list, we only use TP

    I started using "reusables" (I called them rags, but they were serged and neat.) when I got married 39yrs ago. My mother thought I lost it. It wasn't popular back then and when "friends" came over and found out, I was usually criticized for it. This did not deter me. My motivation was not saving money, or being "earth friendly." The motivation was to be less dependent upon big corporate, although at that time it was more "constantly purchasing it from the store." What a sense of satisfaction when I can circumvent that entity! I also felt that cloth worked better and felt better. In the end, we have saved a tremendous amount of money. I was ahead of my time.

    As an aside, if you wish to really get people to get flushed and excited, just hint that you prefer cloth over paper! This will elicit an instant negative response. I have come to the conclusion that using paper towels is erroneously associated with "proper hygiene," being in the proper social class, and better level of intelligence! Talk about mind control. I avoid the topic and the comments.

    My first experience with this attitude was when a church member, who wrote a "column" for the women's monthly publication asked how I saved money with a large family. I only have six kids and others had more, but she insisted. Among other things, I told her about no paper towels. The two most "endearing" comments from the women readers were "I'm sorry. You will not convince me to stop using paper towels. (I wasn't trying to convince anyone. I just said that was what I did.) The other was, "I'm sorry. I love my Bounty and my Sparkle." All I could think of was that I never knew there was a paper towel called "Sparkle."

    My daughters continue to use cloth paper towels and napkins. My DILs will not give up their PT. They will, however, use cloth napkins. The love of PTs goes deep. Go figure.

    I made my own "feminine product" using cloth out of necessity. It worked rather well.

    My guess is that you will be talking to the choir in Backwoods Home Magazine.

    My personal motto is,"Reducing Expenditures is the same as Cash." My list is looong and getting longer.

    1. lol, are you my long lost twin? i think that i have been living the depression years during my own lifetime..everything i have is from the 1940's or older and it all was made in usa and still quite useful as well. i think that if our electricity went off for some duration it would take me awhile to even notice the event.

  31. along with all the things already listed..

    plastic bottles

    the 2 liter soda bottles get cleaned and refilled with filtered tap water and stored in the basement...we have been under boil water orders 3 times in 2 years...

    3 liter soda bottles, and the gallon vegetable oil bottles and the like we clean well, dry and use to store macaronii....with a o2sorber. pasta storted like this will keep for at least 2 years...personal experiance here.

    gallon plastic ice cream containers have an air tight sealing lid...we store sugar and salt...with a couple crackers to absorbe moisture.

    coffee grounds are saved and fed to the blueberry bushes...they are caffeen junkies.

  32. Old tshirts can be braided into rugs...I do not give anything that isn't wearable to Goodwill and I dislike throwing clothing away.
    I precycle when I buy. I like to buy only glass containers which is getting harder to do. I use homemade cleaning products with vinegar and soda being the best. I refuse sacks most of the time when I shop. If it doesn't fit into my purse or mesh bag. I generally don't buy it.
    I have not used disposables for years, so I hope this helps!

  33. Doing just about all that have been listed is this old ladie's way of life. I could add homemade cloth gift bags made from fabric scraps, outgrown clothes, etc. Kids comment on the memories behind the materials. Homemade cloth dolls made to look like the recipient (in coloring and gender) are good presents that will be keepsakes, followed by doll quilts, pillows..

  34. Rubber gloves: right handed folks wind up with lots of lefties, and torn righties. Turn a left handed glove inside out and you now have a right handed glove! Sprinkle a little powder inside if needed to slide easily. Lefties can do the same with right-handed gloves.

    1. oh, COOL idea! I never thought about that!

    2. Oh, COOL IDEA! I never thought about that.

  35. A good alternative for feminine hygiene is a menstrual cup, like the Diva Cup. A good alternative for shampoo is baking soda water, 1/4 baking soda dissolved in 1 quart water. A good alternative to store bought yogurt is Kefir grains to ferment your own milk.

  36. Toilet paper, paper towels for greasy stuff in the kitchen, plastic garbage bags, plastic store grocery bags for cat litter (this is a re useable bag from groceries, right?), kleenex or as some people call it, tissues), old socks--old t shirts and dish towels are great for cleaning rags, old credit cards are great pot and pan scrappers...
    This is all I can come up with....
    Love from NC

    1. thanks for the credit card idea. deb h

  37. We already use a lot from the list. For example, reusable coffee filters, washable cloths instead of paper towels most of the time. I also used to sell Tupperware, so we have a lot. I use these containers when I cook large batches of foods we can take to work for lunch. The freezer holds a nice variety of homemade meals so we don't have to eat out. These items go to work with us in reusable lunch bags with reusable ice. I know if T*HTF, lunch away from home will not be a big concern, but it sure helps us save money for other things that can help us if T*HTF.

  38. • Paper napkins - In storage for short term emergencies
    • Paper plates - In storage for short term emergencies
    • Plastic cutlery - In storage for short term emergencies
    • Plastic wrap (Saran Wrap, etc.) - replaced years ago with plastic lined fabric w/ elastic edges made to slip over top of bowls/plates
    • Toilet paper - rolls of 8" knit material from old t-shirts that are then washed on sanitary cycle in machine
    • Disposable razors - if used and cleaned each time, will last as long as reusable razors.
    • Feminine hygiene - Diva/Mooncup with homemade pads
    • Paper towels - reusable cloth towels made of a layer of flannel stitched to a layer of knit
    • Disposable diapers - cloth diapers
    • Facial tissue - 10" square knit from old t shirts

    I have been eliminating disposable items from our household for a very long time in order to extend our budget. And where I do still have to use disposable items (like ziploc baggies) they get washed and reused multiple times until they are damaged and cannot be reused.

    Oh, and shredded newspaper with baking soda can replace cat litter. Infinitely more affordable nowadays.

  39. I seem to be the odd duck out, but I do STORE paper plates and paper napkins. In case of TSHTF, my precious water will be better spent NOT washing dishes and napkins. That being said, I use very little of those disposable items people have listed here. If things do get bad, I will be busy enough without a mountain of dishes to hand wash.

    1. You are not the only odd duck; unless someone has a reliable. permanent water supply, there will be no way to wash all those reusables and they'll be up the proverbial creek. I learned that when we rented a home in the country and were on a well. When the electric pump went out we were five days without water and had to rely on our stores, which we went through completely and then had to go to friends homes to replenish. I realized that if I ever owned a home on a well, I wanted a old-fashioned hand pump to go with it for emergencies. The other thing was that I didn't want to have to use precious water for things that I could easily use disposibles for, such as paper plates and towels. That said, for ordinary days I use reusables for just about everything (except personal hygiene) as a money saving endeavor. Part of the money I save is used to buy emergency supplies.

  40. I cut up old sweat shirts and make little squares as tp for #1. Saves a lot on on tp. I cut a circle out of old milk cartons and place two between frozen hamburger patties. I got that idea from The Tightwad Gazette. I've started saving grease to make emergency candles. I think if I took some scraps of cotton yarn and wrapped it around a twig and dipped it grease it might make a good fire starter.

    1. you don't need the cotton. get a tin coffee can and soak wood bits in it in grease. it soaks right in to dry wood.
      deb h

  41. SORRY this is not a comment but the easiest way to contact you. some time ago you mentioned Twitter sending you a MSG asking you to reset your password or something even though you have never had an account. It has happened to me about 1 week after you had warned us about it. I am still getting e mails from them even though I have designated them as spam. Are you still getting MSG's as well???

    1. It was Facebook, actually, and I haven't gotten anything from them in quite awhile. However I regularly receive messages that "John Smith" is waiting for a reply on Twitter or something. I don't have (and don't want) a Twitter account, so I just delete them -- especially since I never know who the "John Smiths" are.

      - Patrice

  42. I have etched Pyrex successfully. I did a 9 piece set as a wedding gift to my sister-in-law. I used a vinyl lettering for the stencil, mirrored and reversed so that it reads correctly from the top. She loved them. I followed the directions on the etching cream and it worked issues on any of the 9 pieces. I'm not sure why yours didn't work.

  43. We use: aluminium foil (reused as many times as possible), toilet paper, and sponges... I'm sure there are others but those are the household ones I buy regularly.

    Substitutes: cloth pads and diapers, cloth bowl-covers, glass containers with lids, rechargable batteries, homemade soap and shampoo, metal camping/picnic ware, waxed cloth sandwich wraps, cloth napkins, washable serger-edged household rags/towels, cloth grocery bags.

    We eliminated disposables one at a time to save money, space, and guilt.

  44. Wow....What a lot of great ideas!

    I especially liked the "soapy-water-in-a-bottle" idea and the flannel/knit combo as a replacement for paper towels. I'm all over it!

    I really don't have anything to add to the list. Newspapers and magazines, maybe. Even though they can be recycled, it's a pain to do so. I stopped buying them years ago.

    Just Me

  45. Hi Patrice,

    I am sending a link to a Sunset Magazine article from a year or so ago which generated more comment than any other article they have published! It is called The Zero Waste Home. This family of a married couple with two children do use some disposable items (such as TP) but has many ways she completely avoids having to throw out trash.. She has her own blog as well - link is in the article. I found it very interesting. Enjoy!

  46. A side note here - I do not agree with everything she does, and obviously if you are: prepping for any kind of a natural disaster scenario (tornado, earthquake, etc.), a hobbyist, a canner/quilter/sewer or living in a "farm" environment, much of this may seem either very odd or impractical. I do, however, like the idea of cutting back on disposable items, which was the topic of your post, Patrice.

  47. And I couldn't live in a house without BOOKS!!!! Or my children's artwork.

  48. I suggest more 'easily disposable' politicians. To be replaced with the alternatives: GOD-fearing, Bible-Believing, Truth-speaking, elected Officials with Common Sense, who are sworn to Protect and Serve the people!

    1. Amen!

      I'm hitting the "like" button!


  49. Okay, let's see.

    Toilet paper we use, but we have been known to use wash cloths instead. We have a supply just in case we need them, just for that purpose.

    Paper towels we use as well. They are a great convenience. We have a supply of tea towels we use for a variety of things now, and they could replace most uses of paper towels.

    Tissue is great. I prefer it over bandanas or hankies, but we also have stocked up on these.

    We have some paper plates, plastic silverware and plastic cups for holidays or for just in cases, but we are not depending on them for any real need.

    I do like to use foil, plastic wrap and Ziplock bags. These will be items I miss when I don't have them anymore. I do have a pretty good supply that will last a while. I also like to use waxed paper. I'm not sure how I would replace these item. It will be interesting to see what some other folks suggest.

    Thanks, Patrice. This is a great thing to share with us. Hope some of this information is useful for your article.


  50. Gramma taught me to sew on her 1909 Singer treadle (which I now have!) by making hankies from Granpa's old white shirts. Actually, any color woven (I like a hefty hanky) shirt will do. I knit or sew mop tops for the Swiffer mop, I rag the edges of other wovens to fit the duster. Saving all cans for seedlings. I knit all my facecloths for baths, washrags for kitchen - got rid of ptowels a long time ago. I use handtowels for dish drying-they last longer. Loofahs for scrubbies - bath and kitchen. This month I started slowly moving the dogs over to human food that is good for them so leftovers go fast. I make liquid handsoap from all the little slivers. Love your blog, just bought an old farmhouse I'm turning back into a farm so your experiences have taught me a lot. This townie has never been around farm animals and I'm so looking forward to chickens and rabbits this spring. Jan in NWGA.

  51. Well add me to the odd and impractical list.....

    I've cut down, but not eliminated some things.

    Paper towel=I've made "towels" from flannel squares that work wonderfully. I don't use them to wipe out greasy pans or cat barf :)

    TP (for #1) = Flannel squares (4x4 I think). I went to these to ferret out some allergy issues. Really were no problem at all except forgetting and pitching them in the bowl -- thank heavens I didn't flush :) As a side note, some cheap TP's might be allergenic.

    I'd love to do napkins -- its a husband issue though. :)

    I have sewed "pads" -- wrap around snapped wings with changeable inserts for charity. They look very nice - I'm beyond that. :)

    That cloth bowl cover sounds interesting....I may have to try that. Plastic wrap either sticks to itself or doesn't stick to the bowl at all!!

    1. I did it by cutting cotton cloth to the sizes I wanted and then I used an iron & parchment paper & foodsaver rolls. I laid the parchment paper down, then the roll material, then the cloth, then another layer of parchment paper. I then ironed until the foodsaver material was adhered to the fabric. I'm impatient so I used a high setting on the iron. But this trick only works with 100% cotton.

  52. As a long time subscriber to Backwoods I am looking forward to your article. I am hoping as part of your narrative you will include "Why do we need disposables"? In my opinion you will find the Government and Unions as part of the scenario. Also, I would like to see a comparison between consumption between the past 100 years. Our ancestors, like many of today's preppers (small in comparison to today's overall number of consumers) bought in large quantities and how are ancestors stored these commodities. We also must consider that our ancestors also did not have to deal with adulterated foods. Have you or any of the readers checked out the ingredients on a bag of all purpose flour? Not the same flour my mother purchased. Personally I find my Food Saver Vacuum packer and its plastic bags a great value. I also use it for Mylar bags (another disposable) product. Marion

  53. REUSABLE Hand Warmers!!! I swear by these! They are WARM!!! I am outside for hours at work in the frigid cold and HotSnapz ( or HotSpot ( reusable hand warmers have been a Godsend. They activate to full heat in less than 10 seconds and last for a couple of hours in extreme cold as long as you have them in a pocket or under your shirt or a blanket. I have used the same hand warmers for about 5 years now and they look and act just like new. I expect to get many, many, many winters out of them. I activate one of them now and again as a 'show & tell' for people and they are amazed, especially if they are cold at the time. Literally, they have thousands of uses. In the wintertime, traveling back and forth to work at night in the frigid cold, I will count on them to save my life if I go off the road in some of the more remote areas. In the daytime, while I'm out snowblowing, I count on them to keep my fingers from frostbite. My winter emergency list is Food, Water, HotSnapZ, Blanket, First Aid, etc.

    God Bless & stay warm,
    Janet in MA

  54. The only thing I use on that list is toilet paper. We have real dishes and silverware, and cotton hand towels or rags. I use reusable feminine hygeine stuff and I have a ton of bandanas I use instead of facial tissue.

  55. I still use disposable gloves. I haven't found an alternative for them yet but I'm constantly thinking about possibilities.

  56. I have pretty much cut out disposables but can't seem to find a replacement for plastic bags for keeping my bread fresh. I tried the beeswax bags and they didn't work. I am interested in knowing what others do who don't use plastic/disposable.

  57. I usually take into account if it can be composted or the container reused when purchasing items. Refuse to purchase plastic silverware or disposable plates.

    Q tips
    As little as possible basically.

  58. • Paper napkins= Nice cloth napkins and/or dish towels
    • Paper plates= plates
    • Plastic cutlery= cutlery
    • Plastic wrap (Saran Wrap, etc.)= plastic or ceramic containers with tops.
    • Toilet paper= water bottle and wash cloth
    • Disposable razors= men's razors with changeable blades. Checking into razors that are able to be sharpened.
    • Feminine hygiene=make your own with cloth
    • Paper towels=wash or dish clothes (I use different colors for different tasks and wash individually. For instance, red for personal hygiene. Blue for dishes. Green for cleaning. Etc).
    • Disposable diapers=cloth
    • Facial tissue=hankerchief

    Basically, pretend it is 1930 LOL

  59. If you have a nice clean or new cotton sock you can use it as an impromptu coffee filter.

    However, I simply have a nice french press, works great for pine needle tea.

    Also, I reuse every glass jar I can get my hands on. Some of the nice plastic ones as well. You can even reuse really nice boxes covering them with fabric or pretty scrapbook paper.

    Great idea for an article Patrice. I did this for several years while saving up a down payment for a home and we saved thousands just not having to buy any cleaning, beauty stuff or paper products.

  60. Hi Patrice,
    This is Rhonda from Naturally Cozy (we purchased the business from Enola Gay). As you know, we make washable reusable feminine napkins and incontinence pads. We are also adding cloth "paper" towels to our website as well as bowl covers to replace cling type wraps. We love your blog and have been reading it since we saw and purchased your book Simplicity Primer advertised in WND. I meant to contact you sooner, but this post made me really stop and do it now. I agree with others that this is a great idea for an article. The sooner we all transition over to reusable items the better off we'll be! Thanks, Rhonda and gang at Naturally Cozy.

  61. Hi Patrice,
    This is Rhonda from Naturally Cozy. As you know we make washable reusable feminine hygiene products and incontinence pads. We are also adding cloth "paper" towels and bowl covers (to replace cling wraps) to the website. I meant to write to you sooner to introduce ourselves, but haven't stopped long enough to. Great idea for an article. We will all be much better off if we are accustomed to using substitutes for disposables and have had time to practice using them before we don't have a choice.
    Thanks, Rhonda and gang @ Naturally Cozy

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  63. My husband went through a medical program and I fell in love with his disposable gloves. I use them whenever I'm working with meat or very messy food in the kitchen. I can be safe and quickly be clean to grab something like the phone or the baby.

    I would note that I use cloth diapers but they are not flats. Since they are eight layers thick, I can only use them with a washer and dryer.

  64. I do not understand why it is still acceptable to use single use cups when there are facilities to offer a ceramic cup.

  65. Cut a large hole in the upper part of a gallon milk jug, and a slice out of the bottom part of the handle, to hold clothes pins, seldom blows off the line in the wind.
    Use # 10 cans, rinsed out, put about 6 or 7 holes about 1 1/2" or so from the bottom, poke 2 holes on opposite sides about an inch from the top, and thread with a loop of baling wire. Wrap a whole, cleaned chicken, tightly, in 2 layers of aluminum foil, put about 18 already heated charcoal in the bottom of the can, and put the chicken on top, breast side down, and hang from a tree limb, or set on some flat stones. Leave it alone for about 3 hours, voila! chicken for dinner, cooked to perfection. I like the tree limb, the critters can't reach it once the smell of that cooked chicken starts permeating the air.