52 Weeks Down - Week 6 - Dispense with Disposables

Sharon June 4th, 2007

Ok, time to get rid of the big wasters - the things we use once and throw away. Each of these items comes with a cost in embodied energy and embodied pollution. What’s that? Embodied energy and pollution are the sum of all the stuff that was required to make these things - for example, the energy required to manufacture the paper towels, the bleaches and chemicals used to make them white, the gas used to ship them around the country. All that energy goes in, and then we use them for a few minutes or an hour, and they get thrown out. But all of those things can be replaced with things that can be readily reused.

You can replace everything, and often the replacements are much nicer, and they are always cheaper - you can save a lot of money this way. Sometimes they even make you look cool, gracious and elegant - think about the difference between cloth napkins and paper ones.

Paper towels = Rags. The great thing is that these are free - you use your worn out clothes, old tshirts too ratty for even goodwill to sell. The good thing is that if they are 100 percent cotton, you can compost them, so you can even use them for those messes (we won’t discuss what) that are so gross that you can’t possibly ever wash and reuse the thing that has been cleaned up. But since you are using a scrap of fabric that would have been thrown out anyway, and composting it, it is way more ethical than tossing a paper towel. Plus, we all know those messes don’t come along that often (thankfully!).

Napkins = cloth napkins. Almost all of mine come from yard sales, but you can also make these by hemming pretty fabric. When I was a kid, my step-mom made beautiful, individual napkin rings so that you could keep track of whose napkin was whose, and easily reuse them. I need to do that, so we can cut down on washing. You just put your napkin, folded up, back in your ring and reused it until it got too icky. You can also carry cloth napkins in your purse/bag/diaper bag for eating at restaurants that give out paper.

Plastic shopping bags = cloth or other permanent material shopping bags. I like making these - you can crochet string bags (do a google search for patterns), or make a knitted bag and felt it so that it can handle a big load from the farmer’s market. My local food coop actually deducts some money for each cloth bag you bring.

Paper hand towels = cloth towel you bring with you. Ok, you go to a restaurant, and wash your hands. Do you use a towel, or one of those things that wastes electricity to make hot air? If you are a slob like me, you probably wipe your hands on your jeans, but a more elegant solution is simply to carry a hand towel with you.

Tissues = Handkerchiefs. I was resistant to this one initially, but they really are a lot nicer, and you always have them when you need them. You can cut up a sheet or piece of cloth with pinking shears (thanks, Pat for this suggestion) or if you like to sew, you can hem them. Or, if you can find cloth bandanas, they make a good sized, colorful handkerchief. Besides, there’s something very elegant about being able to offer someone who is sad or dirty or sick a clean handkerchief. Very gracious.

Plastic Diapers = Cloth Diapers and Pull ups = Training Pants - You may have read a study where people compared the environmental impact of cloth to plastic, and concluded that they were about the same. That study was funded by Pampers, and they compared plastic diapers to a diaper service model where you washed the diapers in boiling hot water 3 times with bleach. And that may be necessary if the same diapers are being passed out among different families. But if you buy your diapers, and wash them (only the poopy ones need anything other than cold water an a little mild detergent - we use borax for those) like normal folk, there’s no question, cloth uses much less energy. It also, I find, cuts down on diaper rash, and may be safer for little boys (there’s some evidence that little boys who wear plastic diapers have lower sperm counts as adults). I’ve used my share of plastic diapers, not claiming otherwise, but I’ve always gone back to cloth. I particularly like soft wool diaper covers, since wool doesn’t smell when it gets peed on - so you don’t have to wash it every time it gets wet. You just let the wool cover (or liner) dry, and use it again, and then wash it once a week or so. That cuts down on energy even further. My favorite source (no connection with them, I just love their diapers) is Pumpkin Butt www.pumpkinbutt.com . They sell wool diaper covers, hand crocheted wool liners (not that hard to make yourself) and hemp diapers, along with cloth-and-plastic-reusable training pants. And no, the wool isn’t scrachy or uncomfortable, or hot - my son wears them quite comfortably on warm days and doesn’t get the red marks that plastic diapers cause.

Baby Wipes = Washcloths - you can find washcloths at yard sales, or goodwill, or make them out of terrycloth towels. I’ve seen dollar stores sell them 3 for a buck. Works great, no big deal.

Disposable Menstrual Pads and Tampons = Cloth Pads, and the Keeper or the Diva Cup. Ok, first off, I don’t want to hear any whining from men who seem to think that just reading the word menstruation will cause brain damage ;-). Get over it - or skip this part. Seriously, these are great - many, many times better than disposable pads. I remember that once a student in one of my writing classes wrote a paper about menstrual taboos, and she included the information that, outrage of outrages, women had once worn reusable cloth pads and had to wash them. You should have seen the horror on her face when I pointed out that I wore cloth pads right now. My cloth pads come from Glad Rags, but you can find patterns on the web to make your own. I hate to sew, so I bought them. They are great for overnights and after childbirth - if you are expecting a baby, or prefer pads to tampons, I really recommend them. They are more comfortable, and because they button or snap on to your underwear, they stay in place better - no more sudden, horrible realizations.

The Keeper and the Diva Cup are essentially the same thing, but the keeper is rubber and the diva cup is silicone. I own a Diva Cup, and am a very happy user, but I know people who are equally content with their Keepers. They reduce your risk of toxic shock syndrome, cut your budget, and again, are nicer than tampons. They are both certain to last at least a decade, probably longer.

Disposable Pens = Fountain Pens. My father collects fountain pens, and because I found this hobby unutterably boring when I was a kid, I made a big point of using bics. But they are wasteful - really wasteful. A reusable fountain pen will last you a long, long time (my Dad is still writing with ones more than 100 years old).

Plastic utensils, plates etc… = Real plates, utensils, etc… This one takes a little getting used to. We’re so convinced that picnic = plastic. But it isn’t hard at all to find cheap, reusable materials. I like enameled granny ware from lehmans - lightweight, easy to rinse off with a hose, simple to clean. Like a lot of these solutions, not only is the picnic basket much nicer, but it has an air of elegance and beauty to it - in fact, almost all of these things (the rags don’t really, and let’s be honest, you probably won’t be showing people your elegant Keeper) come with a sense of graciousness, comfort and warmth. It really isn’t hard to keep a picnic basket around for those occasions.

Toothbrushes = Replaceable head toothbrush. The Source Toothbrush allows you to keep the handle and simply replace the head, cutting the amount of waste in landfills. Here’s a link: http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=16

Toilet Paper = Mullein leaves, Stachy leaves, washcloths, bidets or homemade bidet (cup of water). Ok, this probably isn’t for beginners, and I’ll admit, I don’t do this one yet - or rather, I’ve done the leaf thing, but not the washcloths for adults. But realistically, toilet paper is a big waster, and billions of people in the world live without it. We have a lot of wild mullein around here, and they are soft, big leaves, and lambs ears work fine too. As for the washcloths - let’s be honest, if you are wiping the behinds of your babies, what’s the big deal?

But it is really ok to start with the cloth bags and rags ;-).


43 Responses to “52 Weeks Down - Week 6 - Dispense with Disposables”

  1. EPMon 04 Jun 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the informative post, Sharon. We started implementing a lot of these ideas recently and my 3 little girls are thrilled - they feel like they are having a tea party all the time with the cloth napkins and loved the idea of cloth TP saying it was so nice and soft instead of scratchy! It made sense, really, since we’d used cloth diapers and wipes already - what’s the big deal with cloth TP for the rest of us?!

    We also switched to cloth bags for groceries - I found some wonderful canvas bookbags at a yard sale for less than $1 a piece and got 12 of them!

    I appreciate the tip on making the hankies - I hadn’t thought of a sheet and will try that one! I’m teaching my oldest to do embroidery - what a perfect way for her to practice - making pretty hankies!

    Thanks for such a useful and thought provoking blog. We love it!

  2. Pat Meadowson 04 Jun 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    You don’t need to make napkin rings to differentiate family member’s napkins. You can just assign a color to each person, like this: Eli, your color is red. Simon, your color is blue. Etc.

    And then get fabric in different colors for your napkins. Or you can buy washcloths or dishcloths in different colors.


  3. mimuluson 04 Jun 2007 at 4:04 pm

    i’ve been practicing all of the above(except fountain pens, nonpaperTP) for years now. My DH
    jokes about the “stock pot” I discretely put behind the toilet for soaking my reusable cotton gladrags.

    And although I use rags for just about everything else, I cant seem to wean myself from paper towels when i am preparing raw meat. Even though it is local, grass fed, hormone, AB-free meat raised by people we know and trust, I can’t get over this idea the blood may teaming with bacteria.

    I prefer wiping the counter/cuttign board with a disposable towel, then spraying the counter with dilute tea tree oil and then wiping down with a rag I can wash (seperately wiht other rags, not dishtowels!) then line dry in the sun.

    IF paper towels go away, of course I will deal wiht it, but meanwhile that is one of my last holdouts!

  4. Daveon 04 Jun 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Sharon, here are a few related ideas:

    - When food shopping, buy from the bulk bins. Put the plastic bags used back into you’re canvas shopping bag for re-use.

    - Avoid buying anything “instant”; it comes with packaging, and inherently took more energy to create.

    - A pet peeve: bottled water. Give…me…a…break. :)

    Thanks for another good post.


  5. Persi Mon 04 Jun 2007 at 5:35 pm

    I switched our form of birth control to an IUD instead of condoms (classic use once, throwaway) and oral contraceptive pills (hello, stupid little dial pill packs).

    It’ll last me five years with no waste other than the handful of equipment used to insert it and…well, ok, also the industrial complex used to produce it. But I also don’t have to use menstrual products.

  6. joyceon 04 Jun 2007 at 5:53 pm

    A post like this really sorts out one’s tendencies to what Amy Dacyczyn calls “selective squeamishness.” I use cloth menstrual pads, cloth ‘toilet paper’ (for urine only), etc., etc., but I cannot -yet- bring myself to clean up yucky messes with anything but a paper towel. One day…soon…I will get up my nerve…and…use…cloth!

  7. Elson 04 Jun 2007 at 7:28 pm

    My husband is an avid reader of anything that has to do with sustainability and daily he scares the hell out of me with links to articles about waste, pollution, future scarcity of beloved luxuries, and so on. In short, he makes my life miserable. ;-)
    Today he e-mailed me part of this post, about the Keeper. Much to his suprise, I already knew about its existence, but so far I had not given it serious thought. No need to explain that I ordered the thing straight away.

    The other cloth options in your article are quite useful, but I would like to add this: when gathering a lot of goods while shopping, a (plastic) crate is much handier than those cloth or linen bags. Carrying is easier and the cashier sometimes even helps putting your groceries in the crate.

  8. Ailsaon 04 Jun 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Most of the other ideas I’ll be implementing, but DH has put his foot down most emphatically on cloth toilet paper. And DS is potty trained now *happy dance* so diapers are a non-issue now, although I do plan to buy a rubber sheet for his mattress.

    I’ve been using plastic grocery bags for picking up dog refuse. Does someone have a better idea for that? I need some way to pick it up and bring it home to throw away.

    I’m pondering Glad Rags and the like, but waffling cos I’m perimenopausal and wondering if it’s going to be worth it, as they’re really not something I can see handing down.

  9. Anonymouson 04 Jun 2007 at 8:29 pm

    You don’t need Glad Rags — old tee shirts, old sheets, old towels, old diapers. Just cut and fold.

    MEA who thinks that if she is every run over by a bus what she has stuffed in her knickers will be the least of her problems.

  10. jewishfarmeron 04 Jun 2007 at 9:36 pm

    MEA is right - glad rags aren’t really necessary. I like them because I seem to be incapable of having ones without snaps not bunch up, but it isn’t really necessary, and I somehow suspect the issue is my personal failings ;-).

    Where I think something like glad rags (or homemade similar) would be particularly useful is for engaging teenage girls with the project - an easier sell than a old towel.

    The only thing I can think of with the dog poop is old t shirts that can then be composted. That’s one thing I haven’t had to deal with.

    Ok, I’m way behind the rest of you - time to switch to cloth TP. My MIL is going to have a heart attack, though ;-)!

    Els, congrats on the Keeper, and you are absolutely right about the crate. I have some milk crates left over from the days when they served as book cases!


  11. fansmaon 04 Jun 2007 at 9:41 pm

    We’ve been doing most of this stuff for years, I’m relieved to say! (We don’t check out 100% on other impact-reduction methods, but we’re working on it!) I even use those square white terry cloth shop towels for most of what people use paper towels for. BUT the one paper towel use I have not figured out a substitute for is as a heavy duty grease absorber — specifically to lay under just cooked (locally produced in our case) bacon. I’d love some ideas, because I’d love to stop buying paper towels.

  12. JEVon 04 Jun 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Cloth adult wipes are really easy to deal with, esp if you are still semi-squeamish and use them after pee, but still use tp for poop.

    Also, just a note - one of the things that really holds people back from starting up with cloth diapering is initial cost. There are several used cloth sites out there - http://www.diaperswappers.com, http://www.orangestarfish.com and there are even sites that donate diapers to low-income families like http://www.miraclediapers.org. If someone of a more flexible income is looking for a worthwhile charity to donate to, I’d heartily recommend the latter.

  13. Anonymouson 04 Jun 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Okay, here’s my comment on the menstrual pads. My kids are now all potty-trained and semi-dry at night. No more diapers! But, hmmm…they WOULD make BEAUTIFULLY absorbent pads!!! I cut them up and, believe it or not, pin them to my undergarment. I have yet to be mortally wounded or even mildly uncomfortable with two pins in my undies and the diapers are FABULOUS! I admit to only using ones which were so frayed and falling apart from the zillions of washes (3 kids, years of laundry) that I couldn’t hand them on to another mom for diaper use. I also use cut up t-shirts folded and manipulated in such a way as create a decent pad-like-thing.

  14. Anonymouson 05 Jun 2007 at 12:46 am

    I don’t have a dog. (I have 2 cats, one of which has returned himself to the wild, yet again, and the other of whom is bollocking up my plan to reduce my garbage to 0 (haha) by producing a good ten lbs of litter a week.) However, could (if you are kerbing your dog on the grass verge) carry a trowel and just dig it in.

    One moring I saw a man walking an Irish wolf hound and carrying a snow shovel over his shoulder. It’s one of those images that stays with you.

  15. Patriceon 05 Jun 2007 at 3:19 am

    Thanks for the ideas Sharon. I have bought cloth napkins but my husband is a hold out and won’t use them.(You can’t teach an old dog new tricks kinda guy.) Fansma why not just use part of a paper grocery bag~~~I use them for any greasy foods. I am trying to switch to cloth bags but I do get some paper for this purpose and for newspaper recycling. Or you can put some newspaper under your cloth to absorb the grease.

  16. Anonymouson 05 Jun 2007 at 5:24 am

    Alert: more on menstrual products!

    I’ve been a happy Keeper-user for over 10 years now and I use LunaPads as well. They’re great — I got organic cotton ones 2 years ago and they’re holding up splendidly! I also got a pair of (black) Luna Panties — basically a minipad level of absorbency stitched into a pair of underwear — which work really well for lighter flow days. Seems like it would be too tricky to modify regular panties that way.

    Thanks, everyone, for your ideas and effort!


  17. fansmaon 05 Jun 2007 at 6:48 am

    Thanks, Patrice! Hadn’t thought of grocery bags. I came up with newspaper this afternoon while scratching my head trying to answer my own question. (It was thoughts of fish and chips that did it.) We only get a weekly local newspaper, and do try to reuse grocery bags, but both probably still qualify as disposable. But it beats buying paper towels for one purpose (and then being tempted to use them for other purposes).

  18. Anonymouson 05 Jun 2007 at 10:06 am

    Another comment about menstrual cups for your UK readers: there is also the Mooncup (not to be confused with the cup by US-based Keeper which they naughtily also called a Mooncup).

  19. MSquirrelon 05 Jun 2007 at 10:39 am

    Don’t feel bad, Fansma…we still have the bad habbit of draining bacon on paper towels, too.

    As an aside, I’d like to add something my mother taught me…diapers “past their prime” can be re-used as cleaning rags, and are especially good for dusting or for polishing decorative metals (silver, brass).

  20. Robynon 05 Jun 2007 at 12:57 pm

    If you can stand another gladrags comment…the water they soak in is GREAT fertilizer. It really perks up the plants. And no waste of anything, including the water…

  21. Chileon 05 Jun 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I haven’t signed up for the 90% reduction (yet) but I’m getting my feet wet with the Low Impact Week. I posted some similar suggestions this week.

    Best wedding gift we got was 4 denim grocery bags. I still use them. My Keeper has lasted a decade and a half so far, but I ordered a Diva cup to compare. And Sharon, I’m with you on bunched pads - I ordered Luna pads so I can see if snaps help!

    An option on the dog droppings is getting a Doggie Dooley system - they have a septic system-type set-up plus a shovel to pick up the waste. That would eliminate bags, newspaper, or rags used in picking it up and disposing of it. We’ve looked at it before and I think it’s time to go for it.

  22. Anonymouson 05 Jun 2007 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve wanted to compost the water from soaking rags, but have worried about attracting dogs. No problem with putting it directly on the garden?



  23. jewishfarmeron 05 Jun 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I will note that I actually don’t soak my pads - although maybe I should, for fertilizer. I just toss them on the laundry pile, and they seem to come clean anyhow.

    You know, if Matt Savinar is reading this thread, I bet he’s gone fetal ;-).


  24. Anonymouson 05 Jun 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Yeesh! I just noticed I made a mistake in my previous comment. In talking about the Luna Panties, my comment should say that it seems like it would NOT be too tricky to modify regular panties to make something similar. Hmmmm…. my subconscious is trying to lead me astray, methinks.


  25. Michelle in Gaon 06 Jun 2007 at 10:59 am

    Matt Savinar is on vacation.
    Maybe you should send him aemail with link to make sure he gets it.

  26. LimeSarahon 06 Jun 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Ok, when I get home I am finally cutting up that old sheet and t-shirts into hankies/rags/napkins. That’s a shift that’s been on the “really meaning to” list for entirely too long.

    On the blood-for-fertilizer thread — those of you who use cups can do this even more easily. Just empty it into a bowl, dilute with some water, and pour on plants :-) If you put it on a garden, you may not even have to dilute it, but potted plants will be overfertilized if you use straight blood for too long.

  27. Chileon 06 Jun 2007 at 1:48 pm

    limesarah, your comment brought to mind the carnivorous plant-creature in “Little Shop of Horrors”! :-D

  28. Anonymouson 07 Jun 2007 at 4:09 am

    Are there any men still reading these comments! Oh well, you know that back before they invented sticky backs for pads we had these little thong type belts to hook pads onto. Unfortunately they tended to move around alot so going to school or PE was always a disaster waiting to happen. Emergency pads came with safety pins which IMHO worked better. This of course was way back in the 70’s.
    You can compost your dog poop, by the way! Google it and you will find some sites online telling you how to do it and what precautions to take.

  29. MOTHER OF MANYon 07 Jun 2007 at 2:53 pm

    When my daughter who is disabled was small we used cloth diapers but she is now 6 and I have never seen cloth diapers for older children, if I could find them I would use them. Even a pattern for making them would be good.

  30. Anonymouson 07 Jun 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Could you size up a pattern?


  31. heatheron 07 Jun 2007 at 8:27 pm

    These are all great ideas! We do all of them already except for cloth toilet paper. I am not that brave yet. Otherwise it has been quite easy to transition away from disposable products. Other things we have done is stop using dryer sheets (we use dryer balls) and using reusable grocery bags for regular shopping as well as grocery shopping. I bought some really nice ones from reusablebags.com and they are very strong-great for clothes shopping or anything else.

  32. RASon 07 Jun 2007 at 8:37 pm

    I do most of this all ready, thank goodness. The exceptions are diaper (no kids), fountain pens, replaceable head toothburshes (I didn’t even know they existed), cloth pads, and cloth TP. I’m going to gradually transition to all of these. The biggest obstacle will be finding enough of the right kind of rags to use for pads and TP. (I can’t use tampons, so the Diva Cup and the Keeper are out.)

    I’ll have to wait to transition to cloth TP until my brother goes back to school. He all ready thinks I’m quirky, but if I try that he’ll think I’ve gone completely bonkers. And there’s no way he would EVER go along with it. ;-)

  33. kettunainenon 08 Jun 2007 at 2:56 am

    Thanks for this post!

    re: birth control comment from a pp

    Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an awesome book that will teach you how to chart your menstrual cycles without the need for hormonal birth control.

    IUDs don’t work for everyone, and some IUDs have hormones, which pollute both body in their use and environment in their creation and disposal.

    re: using menstrual blood as fertilizer

    please be aware that, in order for this to be effective and NOT kill your plants, you will need to experiment with how diluted the blood water needs to be for each plant on which it is used. Not all plants can tolerate such high iron levels. I’ve known several friends who’ve killed plants using their menstrual blood as fertilizer, both diluted and undiluted.


    I have both the Keeper and the Diva Cup. I prefer the Diva Cup because you can boil it and therefore share it with others without too much issue (yes, I have lent out my cup to friends in need and vice versa).

    Cloth menstrual pads are the only pads I can use, since the disposable ones give me bad heat rash.

    We signed up for a diaper service today for our twins (expecting them in July).

    A lot of grocery stores here in Toronto are selling reusable grocery bags. Eventually, I’ll go around to all of them and collect the whole set! ;-) Backpacks also make for good grocery bags if it’s going to be a small trip.

    For dog poo, I saw someone use a tin can nailed to the end of a yard stick. He had something else to scoop the poo into the can, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen him, I don’t remember what he used. And I never found out what he did with the poo when he got home. Flushed it? Composted it? Idunno.

    A friend of mine uses cloth TP. I won’t be there for a long time (I hate laundry — gotta go to the laundromat — and I pee all the time.) But I’m definitely looking into washcloths as baby wipes. A friend of mine bought me flushable biodegradable baby wipes from Avalon, so I’ll use those until they’re gone and will probably switch to cloth after that.

  34. Chileon 08 Jun 2007 at 2:42 pm

    ras, for cloth TP wipes, I bought a kingsize flannel sheet set at a thrift store. I’ll be starting to sew up wipes this next week. I figure that should be enough cloth.

  35. annetteon 08 Jun 2007 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve done most of these for years - including using cloth diapers and washcloths on my sons back in the 80’s. My younger son got horible yeast infections from plastic diapers, so even occasional use was risky. And as several people have mentioned, old diapers make great, DURABLE rags - I still had one in use when my youngest son left home!

    My one question is - what to do about plastic produce bags? I reuse them - but is there a way to keep delicate produce - lettuce, greens, etc - in the refrigerator without using plastic bags? Living in a hot climate with EXTREMELY limited refrigeration (our refrigerator is about 2′ by 2′ by 1.5′), I’ve learned that a lot of vegetables don’t need refrigeration at all and can be kept fairly well in a basket. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to keep lettuce, greens, green onions, etc in the refrigerator, except in plastic bags. Anyone have a solution?

  36. Anonymouson 08 Jun 2007 at 4:38 pm

    You could try keeping your greens in a bowl with a rung out tea cloth (oops, I mean rag) over it.

    Acutally, you can make quick tea towels (which are used to dry dishes — I can’t remember the American word) from the back of men’s dress shirts with a little (or now if you are a slob like me) hemming.


  37. Raeon 09 Jun 2007 at 3:26 am

    Ooooh I’ve actually never heard of the fountain pen idea! Very elegant indeed. I don’t think I’ve actually purchased a pen in years. We have so many lying around the house. I suppose I’ll use all of them up and stop taking free ones from the doctor’s officees, etc. And then when they’re all used…a fountain pen! I’m so excited!

    I cloth diaper/cloth wipe but I just can’t get used to the idea of “family cloth.” Thanks to you, I am going to start implementing family cloth for pee. I’m the only woman in the house and I actually do use quite a lot of TP…eep!

  38. Mrs. Pivecon 09 Jun 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Hooray! Fantastic list! I am glad that I do nearly all of it now that I bought my Diva Cup this last week. The only other thing is carrying a towel with me, which I wil be doing just as soon as I’m done with this post! That’s why I love lists like this, because they give me new ideas. I’m also going to look for those crocheted bag ideas. Those sound like fun to make.

  39. jewishfarmeron 10 Jun 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Mother of Many, if you get an answer, let me know. I’ve got the same problem with my autistic 7 year old.

    I tried to make diaper covers for my son once, but they were mega-big butt covers, and the thing is, I just can’t subject him to the social criticism he got for wearing obvious diapers. I think I need something more subtle ;-) - he really got ragged for it, and it isn’t fair to him. For now, we’re still using pull ups, but I hate to do it.


  40. Miss Lynxon 13 Jun 2007 at 5:29 am

    Lots of interesting ideas here… Re dog poo, a lot of pet supply stores sell biodegradable poo bags, which will break down naturally within a couple of weeks.

    Now, poo (dog or otherwise) is not recommended for most composting setups, since the heat generated by a typical home composter is not enough to kill any pathogens that might be in it, but if you live in a city that has a “green bin” (curbside composting) program, they’re fine for that, as the heat generated by an entire city’s mega-compost is more than enough.

    On menstrual products - I’m afraid I’m one of the probably few women who just can’t use the Keeper or Diva Cup. I’ve tried both and found them horribly uncomfortable. It took about ten minutes of wrestling to get either one in or out, and I could feel every sharp ridge on the damn thing the entire time it was in, meaning I had to walk and sit very carefully. And yes, I tried trimming off the pokey thing at the bottom, and yes I was wearing the smaller size. I eventually gave up after a couple of cycles with no improvement.

    So I mainly use cloth pads, and if I’m going swimming or otherwise not in a situation where cloth pads work well. In those cases I use sea sponges (the little ones they sell in drugstores for putting on makeup wit), which are still disposable to some degree, since they only last for a few months, but I figure they’re still much less wasteful than regular tampons.

  41. Lindaon 20 Jun 2007 at 2:34 am

    Hope you don’t mind a drive-by posting — I came by through a link at http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/. :) Just wanted to add my latest switch-over — I used washcloths to wash dishes intead of a sponge. I’m a little ashamed to admit that my original motivation wasn’t conservation but rather the fact that sponges are too expensive to replace frequently, and they get so gross if you don’t. I use a clean washcloth every day to wash dishes and at the end of the day just throw it in the wash. Nothing could be easier, and in fact, I like the way it washed dishes much better than a sponge, and it holds on to detergent much better so that you end up using less detergent!

  42. Ameliaon 22 Jun 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Annette, I use homemade terrycloth produce bags: dampen them slightly, put the veg in, and store. I also use muslin bags for purchasing produce, but I’ve had problems with the cashier having to take everything out to weigh it before ringing it up: the scales are calibrated to tare out the weight of the plastic bags, and the store can be fined for overcharging if they run the whole thing through.

    (I still use them: I simply try to time my visit so that there aren’t hordes of people waiting behind me in the queue.)

  43. Anonymouson 20 Nov 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Just a note on the bacon…. I have been using the heal of the bread for years — reusable itself if fried and added to breakfast — Sorry Scotish heritage showing through :)

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