Growing up I was raised by my Grandma and she was raised during The Great Depression. So single-use items out of paper and plastic weren’t used very often in our house. I don’t even remember ever seeing a paper towel in our house growing up. Grandma was one of the original Frugalistas before the word was coined and thrown around the world by the internet. Some of the things below are ideas that I grew up with, others are ideas that have come about over the years.
Making the following swaps will allow you to save hundreds of dollars a year on disposable products.
Bar Towels Instead of Paper Towels
My first and favorite swap is bar towels vs. paper towels. My mom runs a bar and I briefly worked cleaning it in the mornings. This is where I discovered the bar towel. They are the perfect size to replace paper towels, they are tough and durable, slightly abrasive so they clean well and they last forever, just wash them after your done with them and start over. Instead of paper towels, you can keep a basket of clean bar towels in the kitchen that you can wash and re-use over and over.
Cloth Diapers Instead of Disposable
I haven’t had the opportunity to try this one out myself, but many of my loyal readers swear by them. Although this one is probably best if you have you’re own washer and dryer at home, large cities often have diaper services that will pick up and wash your diapers for a similar price or even cheaper than the costs of buying the disposable diapers.
Dryer Balls Instead of Dryer Sheets
Dryer balls rock! Literally, they will save you a ton on the costs of static cling products. You can reuse them over and over with each load for years and the initial investment of a good set of dryer balls can cost you less than $20.
Reuseable Water Bottles Instead of Plastic
You don’t have to be a VSCO girl to love your Hydro Flask. Men, Women, and children of any age can appreciate the convenience and low cost of using reusable water bottles. We use them at home to save on washing a million cups. Each person gets their own bottle to fit their style and you take it everywhere, saving you on the cost of buying drinks on day trips.
Menstrual Cup Instead of Tampons
If you’re a woman of the right age, menstrual products are just a part of life you can’t avoid. They’re not something you can just, “skip.” If you’re willing to try something a little new, you should check out a diva cup or other menstrual cup product. They take a while to get used to, but they will literally save you hundreds of dollars or more through a lifetime of using these products.
Reuseable Grocery Bags Instead of Plastic
In the city I live in, it’s illegal for stores to give away plastic bags with purchase. They have to charge for them. Most stores charge 10-15 cents. I really large grocery bag can tag on a dollar or more on a trip. If you live in one of these cities, investment in a set of good reusable grocery bags is not only good for your wallet, it’s good for the environment.
Reuseable Coffee Pods instead of Coffee Pods
I don’t drink coffee, but one of the adults in my household is a coffee addict. Coffee is expensive and as a disabled woman, she has to use the Keurig, because she can’t manage the coffee pot. We’ve found the reuseable coffee pods save a great deal of money over the purchase of traditional coffee pods.
Reuseable Wax Wrap instead of Plastic Wrap
I personally never use plastic wrap. It’s annoying to use and drives me crazy, not to mention expensive for what something you end up throwing away. I’d rather use plastic or glass containers that can be washed and used over and over again. If you’re looking for something more similar to plastic wrap though, homemade wax wraps work really well. There is an amazing video on you can make these at home with very little time and effort.
Silicone Mat instead of Parchment
This one is an easy swap. If you’re a heavy baker, you know that parchment paper runs out quickly and it’s expensive to buy it over and over. A silicone baking mat takes the place of parchment paper, it’s normally dishwasher safe and makes your baking so much easier!
Cloth Napkins instead of Paper
I think paper napkins are crazy! Why spend so much money on something you literally throw away, plus you fill up your garbage, which you pay to dispose of and paper napkins are not even that great. You have to use several of them during the course of a meal. You can pick up LOTS of cloth napkins for only a few dollars and use, wash and repeat.