One of the top things I get asked about whenever I share our kitchen “behind the scenes” is how I live without paper towels, paper napkins and a microwave! It is just part of our life that I never once thought was different, until you started asking me about it. Or when we have a house guest looking for a paper towel to dry their hands. Or they question if they really can use the cloth napkins at dinner “are they not just for decoration?” We actually do just great without those items. I thought I would share the why and how we survive. I rounded it up to 10 things that you could probably do without in your home! My way of going green and also saving money along the way.
If I can find something to repurpose, I will do that 100% of the time. I just don’t like to pay for paper towels, it always felt like I was throwing money away. And believe me, I am not prefect. I did consider the whole washable diapers and then decided against. I am not fully a “green” person. In my heart of hearts I want to be. So this is me slowly converting. I will probably always have a car, forgot my reusable bags, get my hair colored, nails done, buy new things, use batteries, etc. But I can dream.
These are things that we do that are a little more green and on the frugal side. And all things that I think you too, can do without in your life and home!
10 Things You Could Do Without in your Home-
#1- Paper Towels
I do not remember the last time I bought paper towels. Maybe when we first moved to Connecticut and we had a house guest over and I thought I better get them, for our guests. We also just teach out guests our ways:) We cut up old tee-shirts that are stained or have a hole and those tee-shirts become our rags. Those rags are what we use to clean our home. Or we use the rags if there is a milk spill or to clean-up raw meat. If we can’t quickly rinse out the rag and it gets really yucky, we toss it. But mostly things can always be rinsed and washed. I wash my rags all at once with a rug or towels. We use dish towels to dry our hands and to dry the table etc. (I get that there are animal accidents etc. you could use a rag and then toss it after or have paper towels for emergencies?)
#2- Tin Foil
I really try not to use tinfoil, mainly because of the fact that it is wasteful and I don’t like buying it. I do feel like I can taste aluminum on my food, after it has been heated (I also don’t like to eat with those tinfoil to-go containers for that reason). And, it is not conclusive, but I have read that the aluminum in the foil actually transfers into your food when it’s heated. I suggest doing your own research, since there are traces of aluminum in a lot of things we consume. And if you have not switched to natural deodorant, because that has aluminum, now is the time! I wrote about that HERE. Now we just cook right on the pan then clean that pan. ***If you are baking something and the recipe says “cover with tinfoil” I just put another pan on the top!!
#3- Plastic Wrap
Another item- plastic wrap or cling wrap is something I don’t remember when I bought it last. I use beeswax wraps to cover bowls or I put food in my glass containers with the matching lid. I do love reusable container covers (you can wash these in your washing machine, or quickly hand wash). That is something that would be easy to go without.
#4- Zip-lock Baggies
We do have some zip-lock bags for emergencies. But majority of the time all of my kids food get put in stainless steel containers for lunches and use THESE washable bags (they are BPA free). I love that I can pop them in the dishwasher and they can go in the freezer. They are great for Finn’s snacks. They don’t leak. I love them!!
No microwave. Say what?!? We did have a microwave in our last home. When we moved to this 1100 square foot cape there wasn’t one and we had no desire to get one. When we remodeled the kitchen I considered it. But really I would rather have more space over a microwave. Plus food tastes better heated in the oven and is a gentler way of heating food. There is a lot of information out there about if microwaves are “safe” to use or bad for our health. I suggest doing your own research, we have opted to do without one.
We re-heat leftovers on a baking sheet and typically put the oven on broil and heat up the food in 5 minutes or less. Or I will heat it up in a pan on the stove and just add a little more liquid so the food doesn’t dry out. The only thing I noticed I missed a microwave for was if I wanted to quickly melt butter or coconut oil. I learned to melt the butter in the oven as the oven pre-heated or I would just pull out a pan and quickly do it. We have a popcorn maker (never liked microwave popcorn) or I just do it on the stove, healthier that way. And I don’t drink coffee for those who ask about reheating your cup. I suggest getting a cup that keeps your coffee warm for hours. Also if you or your kids like instant oatmeal then just heat a kettle of water and pour the water over the oats! Cooks super fast and tastes better.
If you are unsure if you could do without a microwave- unplug it for a week or pretend it is broken, see how you do!
#6- Paper Napkins
I used to love to buy cute paper napkin actually. Now we use cloth napkins. I bough a large set of cloth napkins and throw them in the wash. I do a load of laundry every other day so I just toss them in. No, I do not iron them. I just fold them nicely as soon as they come our of the dryer and they are fine. Plus it feels fancy to have cloth napkins! You could collect a set of miss-matched napkins that you buy on clearance. They really will save you money in the long run.
#7- Plastic or Paper Straws-
Another thing I thought was always so fun to buy and maybe I buy them for a special party (maybe) were paper straws. But everyday we use THESE stainless steel straws. They come with a little cleaner you can clean the inside of the straws with.
#8- Makeup Wipes
Makeup wipes are handy and don’t stain your washcloths with mascara. But they are also wasteful and toxic. I opt to buy dark colored washcloths or you could use the washcloths that require zero makeup remover (but I did hear that they are microfiber, so they are made with plastic, thus defeating the purpose of going green and non-toxic). So sorry! I suggest just going with a dark washcloth and using jojoba oil to remove your makeup (oil that does not clog pores).
#9- Room Spray or Perfume
We don’t buy anything with fragrance and it is more eco-friendly to just re-use a glass bottle and make our own with essential oils. Some do-without any scent in their home. But I like to have a spray in bathrooms, especially for guests. And a spray for our bodies! I shared how to easily make your own room spray on this blog post.
I have been using a menstrual cup for about 6 months now. I tried two different brands so I could share what one I thought was best. But overall I am SOLD!!! Like so sold. Like tell everyone. Why did I not change sooner? Why is no body else screaming about this? Ok menstrual cups are genius. Not hard at all and no leaks like I thought. Only good things to say. I will share some reasons- (UPDATE- been using a cup for over 3 years since writing this post and so happy I switched! My girls haven’t used them, yet. But anything I buy for them is organic and chlorine-free and fragrance-free).
Reasons to use a Menstrual Cup-
- Eco Friendly- one cup will last you FOREVER!!!
- Non-toxic- menstrual cups don’t contain latex, BPA, dye or other additives. Almost all tampons contain bleached rayon—yes, that is BLEACH you’re shoving up there. (Menstrual pads are toxic too).
- You can wear the menstrual cup longer- Tampons offer just eight hours before toxic shock becomes a possibility. With menstrual cups, you can go up to 12 hours in between emptyings. And the cup holds more liquid!
- Decrease your chances of toxic shock syndrome. If you don’t know what that is- Tiny bits of cotton can cause small cuts in your vaginal walls—a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria. My mom’s friend got toxic shock syndrome when I was younger. It always freaked me out- thinking she got that from her tampon?? And they said it was because she “left it in too long” which I am now learning is not always the case.
- I did also read that using a menstrual cup is natural remedy to decrease your flow.
- And you ALWAYS have them- no more stressing if you have to run to the store, or the world is coming to an end and you can’t get your tampons!
I tried several menstrual cups. I ended up liking THIS Saalt one best- it was easier to remove and it comes in two sizes. My biggest tip-make sure to turn the cup, once it is inside, so it “opens”. A lot of you suggested this to me and I was so thankful because it made sense and it saved me from wondering if I did it right! There is a quiz you can take to figure out what menstrual cup is right for you HERE.