This blog will not be adding more posts but will remain open for you to access the information that will remain here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Cloth Revolution

by Colleen

frugalurban.wordpress.com

Over the past year and a half, I have been a Cloth Revolutionary at my house. Little by little, disposable paper items are disappearing from our landscape, only to be replaced by colourful, reusable Cloth replacements.

The first step in our Cloth Revolution was the switch to cloth diapers. We did this when our daughter was 11 months old, after visiting with some friends whose daughter was using cloth. The cloth diapers seemed so cute and cozy, and more "natural" than the crinkly perfumed plastic ones we were using. I was nervous about the workload, but found them not to be that much work. We have a small washer that plugs into our sink, and we dry them (as pictured) on our collapsable drying rack.

The main benefit I saw right away was cost. We went with cotton prefold diapers, which are about the cheapest you can go, and we used some high-tech fleece-lined, microfibre-insert pocket style diapers for night time. I think the four night time diapes cost around the same as our two dozen prefolds with four or five covers. It has been great not to worry about having to drive out to Costco to get the best deal on diapers.

My next Revolutionary Act was to replace my tampons and pads with a set of beautiful, comfortable, reusable Lunapads. This was after doing some reading about how tampons have dioxins in them left over from the bleaching process, which can then be absorbed into your body when you use them. Also, after having my baby, I found them uncomfortable to use, and pads were bulky and expensive.

As the stickers say, "I ♥ my lunapads"! They are so comfortable and beautiful. The nicest thing about them is that I never run out! I had bought myself an "Intro kit", and then after using them for a couple of months, I got another kit to round out my collection. It has a good selection of sizes, thicknesses, etc. for different stages of my cycle. My only disappointment is that I got pregnant again right after my second kit arrived! At least I know they are waiting for me when I start my cycle again.

Next I replaced paper towels with cloth napkins. On a trip to Sudbury to visit my parents I stopped into an adorable new store called Mimi & Lulu. They have all sorts of beautiful handmade clothes, aprons, bags, toys and crafts, as well as a selection of fabrics so beautiful I thought I was looking at a magazine or something. I honestly don't think I've seen such gorgeous fabric in stores, ever.

The best thing (for me) was their remnant bags, a bunch of colour-co-ordinated fabric bits from their collection, mixed with some cute vintage finds, all for $13. Inside was enough fabric (in the right size) to make more than 10 napkins, some of which I kept & use, and some of which I gave away as gifts.

It's so nice to use cloth napkins, especially ones in such cute fabrics. They seem to add a touch of class to every meal.

Home-Made Toilet PaperThe next item is a bit more . . . unusual, and I hesitate to mention it in my first post on the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op, but here goes: the next paper product I replaced was toilet paper. Well, not entirely, but I made some lovely wipes that my daughter and I use for #1. Being pregnant and having to drink a lot of water, this saves me a huge amount of toilet paper. I just throw them in with the diapies and wash them often.

My most recent Revolutionary change was to make some cloth kleenex (tissues). Once again, so cute! Once again, so comfortable! I made them from some cloth I had in mystash, so I consider them basically free to me. We haven't yet been through a major cold or flu with these, but I will report back on how they fare. I just throw them in any wash I'm doing (except for darks!) and they stay nice and absorbant.

Besides these recent changes, I have always used cloth rags for cleaning rather than paper towels or even J-cloths. It's a great way to re-purpose old towels and t-shirts, and if a rag gets too dirty, I just throw it away.

For me, this process has been about saving money, being green, and more importantly, finding a better product to replace the cheap disposables in my life. If you have replaced something I've missed, please let me know! I'm always open to making more frugal & green changes in my life, and sharing them with the world.

31 comments:

Bonnie said...

wow ! you are amazing. i would have never thought of replacing all of those things !! i like the idea of the tissues. the pads and toilet paper ... well, it may take a bit of convincing !

Queen Stuss said...

A very big fan of cloth pads here!

What sort of fabric did you use for the tissues and the toilet paper? I only ever have a box of tissues in my house for visitors, we all use hankies and I've made a few hankies for my son out of some scraps of Thomas the Tank Engine print flannelette. But I'm inspired now to make hankies for the grown ups too (though maybe not Thomas ones!).

NMPatricia said...

I have done the rags replacing whatever else one would clean with and paper towels. I have done the napkins. One challenge is to remember to throw them into lunch boxes which is hard since we don't use them a lot. I am experimenting with the TP/pads thing. I did the Kleenex thing about a year ago. Can't get my husband on board, but it seems so basic! A flannel tissue is much nicer than the kleenex and keeps on giving! I too would love to know if I can do more!

mountainwildlife said...

Good on you- what an effort! I recently started using cloth pads I made myself from flannelette, and I love them- so comfy! Quite simple to make, with lots of patterns online to help.
You have convinced me to use cloth hankies too, my kids go through an enormous amount of tissues, usually thrown away dry (having just learnt to blow their noses its still a novelty!)
Not sure I could convince all the family to do the wee wipes, though it does make sense....

Jacinta said...

Hi. We use hankies too, but do buy a box of soft aloe-vera tissues if someones gets the flu...helps soothe a raw nose. Also, apart from cloth, have you looked into a mooncup?

FrugalMaman said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I love the idea of replacing Kleenex. I have year-round allergies and go through a lot of tissues. We're doing self-laundered cloth diapers too. After do the pre-folds with a laundry service for my first, where we had to wash the diaper wraps anyway, washing a whole diaper wasn't a much bigger step. A friend of mine told me about the Kushies outlet in Hamilton and I picked up infant size cloth diapers for about $5 each! I too find the disposables not so nice now that we've made the switch to (daytime) cloth. I've been looking into the cloth pads as a backup for the Diva Cup - which I think is fabulous - once I get my period again after boy #2. I'm glad to hear the good reviews and had only heard of Gladrags before. The wee wipes is a terrific idea! Loved reading your Revolution, thanks.

Pat aka Posh said...

To cut back on the usage of zipper bags I've made several cloth draw string bags to keep bread, beans, rice etc in.

Anonymous said...

For the cloth tissues, consider using old t-shirts which have been cut into the appropriate size. They're sooooo soft.

Anonymous said...

Hi Colleen,
Could you expand on the cloth tissue idea...what size did you make them and out of what fabric?
Thanks
Coleen
PS It's kinda neat we have the same first name:)

Gina said...

Brilliant post. I second Colleen's question, would like to know what type of fabric you make your 'tissues' from, and also your toilet paper.
We moved to cloth about 8 months ago with my second child and I've had a similar cloth revolution, having realised it's just not that big a deal to wash nappies (for two) and just how we don't need all this disposable stuff. I'm yet to get my cycle back but plan to use cloth pads when I do. I haven't made dedicated serviettes yet, but I will - just using tea towels at the moment.

Annodear said...

Fabulous! I would never have thought about replacing *ahem* toilet paper with cloth, but it makes total sense...

While traveling in Mexico, the general rule is: If it hasn't been in your mouth, it shouldn't be in the toilet! So even toilet paper is thrown in the waste basket and thrown out every morning. And it's no trouble... Tossing used wipes in with the laundry rather than throwing it out... same difference, and entirely green.

*You* are thinking outside the box. I love it.

Donna in CO USA said...

I got the idea from Down to Earth (Rhonda Jean's blog) to make net drawstring bags for purchasing produce. The UPC can still be seen through the fabric, and the bags can be reused. I have come to love mine!

Hana said...

Cloth tissues, handkerchiefs, or whatever they're called, are something normal here in the Czech Republic... or at least used to be, and I hope we will stick to it. I actually find them much more practical during colds, if you don't forget to drop them to wash regularly. Paper tissues get wet through and totally unpleasant during colds, and so many of them are used!

I'm also a big fan of cloth pads. I'm making mine myself (still need to make more) and they're much more pleasant to wear than any disposables! Especial the ones made from flannel.

I also very much liked the idea of fabric face cloths in an earlier post here, and I'm going to give it a try. My sister uses them much more than me, I'm curious what she will think about them.

Hana said...

Oh, and there's a thing that I'm wondering how to eliminate... I'm using paper napkins for removing grease from pans after frying. You know, not just some grease that remains on it, but all the fat I fried in (I often use lard). In winter we do that with a piece of wood which we them throw into the furnace, but I don't know how to deal with it paper-less in summer... a piece of wood thrown away just like I throw away the paper? I don't think that's a solution, because, after all, the paper is similar to wood, as far as I know... So far it's something I don't change, because all other possibilities I think of don't seem any better.

cachet said...

In addition to paper, I'm trying to use less plastic, so for lunches and snacks I use little cloth baggies with a velcro closure.

Robin Brown said...

I've done just about everything except toilet paper, which would not be practical around here (working full time).

I have a large stash of "Glad Rags" that I keep on my dresser, which is perfect for managing my increasingly middle aged period. My commitment there has grown over time and I used fewer and fewer disposables. It will be interesting to see what choices my daughter makes when her period comes.

Hankies are simple. Bandanas. Very easy to use until it needs to be washed. Also useful as napkins on the road (and for first aid etc). Easy to throw a clean one into my bag if I'm going out. Sometimes there's one in my lunch box and one in my handbag. Cheap to add to the collection at the craft store. Easy to wash in hot water if somebody has a cold.

The cloth basket (a crate that sits on an open shelf) is an institution in my kitchen. They have probably replaced 95% of the paper towel use. It's a motley collection of kitchen cloths that have accumulated over time, including tea towels, terry cloths, old wash cloths etc. Old diapers are fantastic in the kitchen and when cleaning up just about anything. On the way to the washing machine I just go through the kitchen and gather up anything that's been in circulation for a while.

Anonymous said...

One thing I did for cloth toilet paper is to cut up microfiber towels. These have worked well. The edges don't fray so I didn't have to sew anything. I also use cut up old tees for cloth kleenex. Mine aren't pretty but they do work well.
Traci in NE

Val said...

For cleaning greasy frying pans, I pour out the liquid goop into another container. You do end up throwing away the container, but my mom always just kept her tin can on the counter and kept on filling it. That's also reusable grease. Once it's mostly out of the pan I just wash the pan. I also sometimes plan my meals so that the next meal uses the same ("dirty") pan,

Depending on the piece of wood you're using, I don't see the big deal in throwing it away. Driftwood would work great for that... it hasn't been milled or purchased, and you're returning it to the environment.

Hana said...

I feel guilty throwing away wood mostly because we live in a town, so wood isn't all that easy to come by, and we're using it in winter for heating!
But thanks for the other suggestion. My mom used to do it, too, but with plastic yogurt containers, which I didn't like - the hot grease + the plastic. Tin sounds like a good idea.

Lunapads Products International said...

Aww shucks! We're so pleased to be mentioned on your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Lunapads with your readers. For those that are interested, in addition to cloth pads we also offer handkerchiefs and "family wipes" or reusable toilet paper.
Here's a coupon for 10% off on orders over $35 on Lunapads.com: just enter 'clothrevolution' at checkout to receive your discount.
Thanks again Colleen, we couldn't ask for better fans!

Colleen said...

Thanks for all the comments! A couple of responses:

1) my cloth "wee wipes" (I love that, mountainwildlife!!) were 4 x 8 inches, and have shrunk a little bit in the wash. I just cut out the flanellette and then did a zig-zag stitch around the edges (don't have a serger). I fold them in 3rds when I use them and don't get any "soak-through"

2) My cloth tissues/kleenex/hankies are about 10 x 10--quite ample.

3) cloth baggies instead of plastic is a brilliant idea, and so is the mesh idea. I'll look into that one. We've been washing out & re-using the clear plastic bags from milk as baggies. They are a very nice thick plastic and work well in the freezer.

4) I do have a Diva Cup, but found it uncomfortable after giving birth, even with the post-partum size. However, I've heard their forums are incredibly helpful, so I might give it another try once my cycle returns after baby #2 is born (due late Sept.)

5) As for wiping out pans, I also pour out the excess grease, and then wash with hot water (no soap on my cast iron).

Chookie said...

We have handkerchiefs here too. 100% cotton, woven -- you can buy linen hankies, which are indestructible but very, very expensive.
I have bought cloth napkins, but haven't quite got the Geek used to them yet -- I also want to give each of us a separate napkin-holder so we can tell which is whose!
Still looking for an Australian-made cloth pad.

Anonymous said...

Love all these ideas! I have a stack of old wash clothes on the counter to replace paper towel. I still don't know how to handle the cat's fur balls with out using the paper towels though. I will work on the kleenex replacement. we both have terrible allergies and go through a lot of tissue. The cloth tissues you mention will be good to try out. Also like the idea of the wee wipes. SO, big question.....are you putting them directly into a bucket to soak or what? Can I just wash them with my regular wash? thanks from Texas

Jeff9 said...

The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use by using it on yourself also. I'm not sure how many people know this but that is what they were originally created for. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review: http://jonathanandandrea.blogspot.com/2009/04/spray-it-or-scrub-it.html

wilsonian said...

re: greasy pans... once the pan has cooled on the stove, pop it into the fridge or freezer for a bit till it firms up. You can scrape it nearly clean with a rubber spatula. I think the rubber spatula is a fantastic tool to save water in general when doing dishes by hand. You can get most of the goo off before the dish hits the sink.

Laura said...

I use a Diva cup, but I need to switch to the pads as well. Glad to see the information!

I'll be moving us to cloth napkins as soon as I find some sewing time...

frugalque said...

We use all cloth in our home now also. The cloth tp was the last item but my husband and I were already making so many changes that we were on board pretty quickly.

We just bought a bunch of cheap white washclothes for #1 and different colored ones for #2. Works out really, really great. We both have buckets under our bathroom sinks and just drop the clothes in there.

Janna A. Kepley said...

Hi! Wandered in looking for indoor line-drying ideas (your rack is fantastic!) and kept poking around. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but the first Cloth changes I made were to dump the tampons and pads for a Lunette Cup and made for myself some very thin "Dailies" (along with a set of black "backups" to wear with the Lunette!) Then I sewed myself some "pee pads" (I basically quartered the 8" hand rags!) So I LOVE to see all you've come up with! I started to move to handkerchiefs for morning sniffles just this week and love your "tissue box!" The husband is harder to convince. I'm sure he'll come around. I'll make it so he won't have much of a choice! :D

Karen said...

re: tissues: We moved (back) to cloth hankies some years ago, and Other Half got over his qualms almost immediately it was pointed out that paper tissues have a nasty tendency to dissolve/explode when blowing your nose anyway, leaving bits all over your hands, face, and shirt.

Nowadays, I find myself wondering how on Earth we got acculturated to tissues so quickly - 20 years ago, my mother would have called them wasteful, and now she buys them by the (plastic wrapped) pack!

re: Grease on pans: You can use the oil/lard you've been cooking with again, usually several times. Veg oil gets dirty far slower than animal fat, but either way, pour into a container (veg oil into a bottle through a sieve). My parents, growing up in Austerity-era Britain, called the reclaimed animal fat "dripping", and it was spread on toast and sandwiches in place of butter, as well as being reused to fry with until it went dark - it was considered a treat. Something you can do is mix equal parts flour and grease and keep in the fridge - fab for greasing AND flouring baking tins in one fell swoop.

re: loo roll: I cannot get anyone else in the family to agree to this...

re: menstrual cup: It IS uncomfy at first - and my memory tells me that the first time I used pads as an adolescent, they were bulky and uncomfy and I thought everyone could see I was wearing one. And the first time I used tampons, it was uncomfy and horrid. Like using pads or tampons, using a cup takes a couple of cycles to get used to. I found the silicone cup weird for 2-3 cycles, and then it was fine. Having had what the doc called "unusually" heavy periods for 30 years, I was unsure about how it'd work, but I've "overflowed" three times in the 16 years I've been using it (and only ever to a salvageable degree, where no-one else could tell) - as opposed to regularly when using 2 super-sized tampons together (often bleeding through my clothing). Way, way easier and comfier in the long run.

Lisele said...

Sooooo, I am not the only one! I have done all the above replacements, EXCEPT the "wee wipes." I am sure I have some flannel around the house that would work perfectly. I also have a bidet, so I bet I could get away with a stack of wipes that could be rinsed between launderings. Urine is sterile, so this does seem like an excellent idea! Thanks!

Teresa said...

We use cloth napkins, knitted dishclothes, linen dishtowels and cleaning rags, and I plan to make or "vintage" some hankies. I just can't bring myself to make the switch to cloth pads--I've used them before and found them ghastly uncomfortable, like wearing a diaper.

Just curious: how much has the additional cloth increased your laundry? A friend of mine who's overall quite green decided that disposable diapers made more green sense than cloth due to the sheer increase in laundry volume and effect on her septic, but I remain unconvinced.