Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Frugal, Green and EASY!!!

Want a quick and easy way to cut some spending our of your budget AND give Mother Earth a little hug?

Cloth napkins and washcloths!

This was a novel concept to me, because I grew up in a household where cloth napkins were reserved for special occasions, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. Every day napkins were paper. When Diesel and I set up house, we registered for cloth napkins-- y'know for all those fancy sit-down dinners we were going to have in our placial manor. Said Crate & Barrel napkins sat on a self in our linen closet for a good 4 years, all the while we were purchasing and using paper napkins. About a year ago, as I started trying to find ways to be more "green," one night we ran out of paper napkins; right then and there it dawned on me: USE CLOTH NAPKINS!!! Of course, our 4 Crate & Barrel napkins only went so far, so eventually I had to run out to Target and pick up 8 more. Then I remembered that someone had given me a set of cloth napkins in a picnic basket a few years ago and I dug those out. Now we have 16 napkins tucked away in the drawer of our dining table.

Interestingly enough, my cheapy Target napkins have retained their color better than my expensive C&B napkins. Oh, and to save on the cost of laundering, we reuse our napkins through a couple meals (unless they get really messy-- like on the rare occasion that we eat crab legs for dinner!).

My next easy-peasy money and earth saving tip is buying lots and lots of washcloths and using those in the place of paper towels. I own roughly 2 bazillion of them. I like to buy the multi-pack of bathroom washcloths at Target. They're something like $7 for a package of 7, whereas the kitchen washcloths tend to be more pricey. I use them for just about everything.
Using washcloths to clean up messes around the kitchen has also impacted how we clean up messes around the rest of the house. Spills and other wet messes get cleaned up using old bath towels and rags. We do still buy paper towels, but we use much fewer than we once did-- and usually only for things too gross or messy to be cleaned out of a washcloth or towel. We also buy paper towels made from recycled paper, so that sort of offsets it, right?

12 comments:

  1. We started doing this a couple years ago too. Paper towels are mostly used for cleaning up cat vomit any more. I also notice that when my dad is here we blow through a roll of paper towels in a weekend, but it can take months for us to use a roll in the normal course of family life.

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  2. So glad I learned to use washcloths around the kitchen instead of paper towels (learned from you, of course)! We still use more paper than I'd like, but definitely less than before. Haven't quite convinced the fam to go to cloth napkins. Working on it!

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  3. @Shannon-- Yup, our paper towels are pretty much reserved for the dog puke and/or poop clean up.
    @Clara-- YAY!!! a convert!!! Best way to "convince" your family is to just bust out the cloth napkins and stop buying the paper! :)

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  4. I was just about to start doing this before Henry was born, but ever since he got here we cannot keep up with the laundry. I just can't stomach the idea of having more stuff to wash. Maybe after he is done with bibs and can make it through most days without a costume change.

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  5. @Cara-- Honestly, it doesn't even amount to a full load of laundry a week. I keep a mesh bag in the kitchen where we stick the used washcloths and even after a week it isn't full enough to necessitate its own load. I usually just toss them in with something else I'm washing-- like towels. If nothing else, I'd say try to go the washcloth route and then when you're out of the baby stage, go to the cloth napkins.

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  6. It's hard to teach old dogs new tricks. My ILs will use a new paper towel to dry their hands after washing (I quickly put a stop to that). Or use a paper plate to eat a sandwich and then toss. There's only so much I can force them to do. If I don't buy it, they'll buy it themselves. I do use the baby washcloths to clean up Jordan after meals.

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  7. @Clara-- yeah, that is a toughy. Just do your best! Maybe just get the hubby and kids in the habit and hope it rubs off on your ILs! :)

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  8. Unfortunately, hubby is cut from the same cloth. They all think I'm nuts when I wash and re-use the red plastic cups, plastic utensils, and aluminum pans after a party. They also thought I was nuts when I started using cloth diapers.

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  9. Luckily, Diesel's mom actually uses cloth napkins in the day-to-day, so that was an easy fix, but he definitely uses more paper towels than I do. And believe me, there are PLENTY of times that he looks at me when I'm nuts-- Just let me bring up the subject of eating meat products that DON'T come from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations... :)
    Just keep trying, that is what I do!

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  10. Looks at me LIKE I'm nuts... not when I'm nuts (talk about a Freudian slip!!)

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  11. That's a good idea. We go through paper towels so fast, but a package of Costco napkins lasts forever. I'll pick up some of those bathroom washcloths next time I'm at Target. And I don't have to be perfect. If we're out of clean washcloths, I can always use paper towels until I get to the laundry. Every little bit helps, right?

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  12. Exactly!! Something is better than nothing. Good luck!

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