It’s funny. Before I was a parent, I thought of myself as an environmentalist. But even though I did some volunteer activist work and wrote a lot about the environment, I never managed to shift my lifestyle that much. I tried to bike and walk instead of driving. I used CFL lightbulbs. That was about it.
Somehow, cloth diapers opened up a whole new world for me. It’s not like using cloth diapers is that big a deal. It wasn’t hard to do; it’s not that extreme. But for some reason, my love for cloth diapers started me on the path of questioning other throwaway products. All of them, actually.
And the more I get rid of throwaway stuff, the more I discover how much fun reusable stuff is. Which is nice. Because pretty soon I won’t have an excuse to buy pretty diapers anymore. I’ll need another outlet for my gear girl persona (I swear, honey, I’m saving money! This is so much cheaper than buying stuff over and over again!). Luckily, there are plenty. Here are a few of the things I’ve quit buying, or that I’m planning to quit buying soon.
1. Paper diapers. You knew that one. But the list wouldn’t be complete without it. And really, who wants to spend money on plastic diapers when you can buy adorable fluff like this?
2. Paper towels. My mother can’t stand this. She brings her own roll of paper towels when she comes to babysit now. I feel bad–I do, really, Mom!–but I just can’t bring myself to buy it anymore. For a long time I would buy it “just for when Mom came over,” but I found that if I had it, I used it. Constantly. And I have so many cloth rags–it’s just a waste for me to use paper. It’s not even really more convenient. I just think it is.
3. Grocery bags. Ok, nobody buys plastic grocery bags (at least not in Atlanta…in some places they charge you extra if you don’t bring your own bag!), and we all know it’s great to bring your own bags. I’m finally pretty good about remembering mine. Especially my Trader Joes cooler bags. Nothing like having a cooler bag for your groceries in the summertime!–especially if your child needs a snack or a nap the minute you get home. I used to struggle to put the groceries away first before they went bad; now I have time to take care of my child first. Because my groceries are in a cooler bag.
I also keep one fold-up bag in my purse at all times for those days when I stop by the store unexpectedly for a couple of items. That has saved me many a plastic bag.
4. Plastic baggies. I’m still using these, but I really want to quit. I just need to buy some of these:
Aren’t they cute? Zippered food bags like this may become my post-diapering days cute eco product obsession. I’m still debating on sizes and brands, though. And I need to make sure that my food baggies never get mixed up with my diaper wet bags, so I want to keep it to two patterns–one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom. Choosing patterns is hard enough, but choosing only two is, well…the reason why I haven’t bought any yet, I guess.
5. Toilet paper. Ok, so I don’t plan on ever quitting toilet paper entirely. But I do want to get some family wipes for–how shall I say it?–the less messy bathroom trips. My husband says he’s never going to use it, which is fine. Unlike us girls, he doesn’t have to use toilet paper every time he goes to the bathroom.
Of course, this will necessitate another wet bag. Bathroom pattern. So I need something that will look nice in both bathrooms–neither of which is decorated yet, which I guess helps.
6. Feminine products. I think if you’d told me when I was a teenager that I would someday use reusable feminine products, I would have gagged and never spoken to you again. Now, I can’t imagine how I ever put up with those awful paper products. They smell. Especially the ones that are supposed to reduce smell. And they’re just…gross. They feel yucky. My diva cup is so comfortable, I honestly forget I’m on my period when I’m wearing it. And cloth pads are so soft and smooth, and they don’t stick to your skin. I actually look forward to my period sometimes because I get to use this stuff. And although it took me a few months to get the hang of my diva cup, I haven’t had a single leak since. I wish I could use it postpartum, but since you’re only supposed to use pads for postpartum bleeding, I’m going to have to stock up on some really nice postpartum mama cloth.
Some more reusable products I’m contemplating but haven’t switched to yet: reusable take out containers for extra food at restaurants (sometimes I happen to have an empty tupperware container–if my daughter finished her snack and I haven’t refilled it yet–and if I do, then I use that, but usually I get the plastic take out box), a reusable cup for restaurants (we have a whole bunch of adult-sized cups with straws and lids, so it would just be a matter of remembering to bring one), and bringing my own container to buy bulk at the grocery store–something else I do sometimes but not regularly.
What about you? Are there any throwaway products you’ve given up gladly? Anything you don’t think you could ever live without?