- Diapers (30/month)
- Napkins ($4/month)
- Paper Towels ($4/month)
- Water Bottles ($50/month)
- Plastic Wrap ($3/month)
- Plastic Baggies ($2/month)
- Baby food ($50/month)
In order for you to easily compare my spending needs to yours, I should give you some background information. You should know that I have one 6 year old daughter, one 4 year old daughter, and one 14 month old son. My husband and daughters take lunch to work/school practically every day. My 14 month old basically eats everything that we eat, so saving on baby food isn’t entirely relevant right now (for now… 4th baby due in December), but it might be for some readers. We also have 2 medium sized dogs. I’m sure they factor in somehow… I stay at home, so you might have to consider the amount of messes I have to clean up throughout the whole day, if your house is empty while you go to work.
You should also know that my hippie lifestyle did not begin because I wanted to save money. I have the tree hugging gene. That’s the best way to explain it. Once, as an overweight 9 year old, I gave up cheeseburgers because of deforestation. That’s commitment, coming from someone whose home-away-from-home was McDonalds. I still love McDonalds.
Fast forward. As an adult, once I made the switch to using reusable shopping bags (7 years ago), it was all downhill from there (my husband would probably joke). I have sort of become an anti-disposable extremist. Sort of - I mean, I still use toilet paper (but it’s made from recycled paper).
Anyway, here’s a guide to how I have eliminated certain disposables from our life. Some tips might seem obvious, but I don’t know how a normal person without the tree-hugger gene thinks, so I won’t assume anything.
Side note: I’m not going to get into ALL of the benefits of using reusables. With much restraint, I’m only covering the cash saving benefits today.
Probably the easiest thing to quit buying is paper towels. Paper towels, for the most part, get used like rags. And what is every old piece of clothing? A rag in the making. And what do kids destroy best? Clothing. One could conservatively say that we have a surplus of rags in our home.
But there are many different categories of rag needs:
- Kitchen messes
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Unholy messes that make your skin crawl
- And the list goes on…
To address each of my paper towel needs, I have two different rag stashes.
One stash is made up of old, ugly dish towels that can either be used as dish towels or kitchen rags. Shoot, as long as we’re being honest, I even use my newer dish towels for clean ups. When I’m done wiping yogurt off of the floor with these (etc.), I put them in a designated hamper in the garage that is only for kitchen towels and napkins. If the towel or napkin is wet or damp, then I hang it on the side of the hamper to dry. This will avoid getting the whole load of soiled napkins and towels wet, which would definitely create an odor problem. It takes our family 2 weeks to almost fill up the hamper. Then I wash the load on the Sanitize setting of our washer, and all of the yogurt, applesauce, mystery stain nightmares fade away.
The other plentiful rag stash I keep is under the sink. This is for all of the old stained clothes/towels that I’ve cut up into various sized rags. I use these for anything nastier than kitchen messes. The bathroom, paint clean-up, polishing furniture, etc. These rags also have their own special hamper in the garage and are washed about once a month with mats and other dirt-related soiled items. I don’t usually wash these on the Sanitize setting because everything that goes in this load stays far away from our mouths. Hopefully.
If I have cleaned something so vile that it hurts my soul, I throw the rag away and have a good cry in the shower ha ha.
In the past 4 years, I have only purchased napkins twice. Back when I used to spend a lot of time planning my kids’ birthday parties, I decided it would be very Supermom of me to make Tinkerbell cloth napkins for my oldest daughters’ birthday party. I ended up with 40 used cloth napkins, and reached an exciting new tier of my reusable lifestyle. To this day, we still use what’s left of them. Since then, I have grown our cloth napkin collection (since Mr. Bone doesn’t like Tinker Bell) and I have never looked back to using paper napkins.
You might think that a huge napkin stash like mine would take up a lot of room, but they all fit nicely in one drawer in my hutch.
We use these napkins every day, for every meal. And often substitute the use of a small saucer plate with a cloth napkin (less dishes to wash, woo-hoo!). Once used, all of these napkins get thrown in the kitchen-rag hamper in the garage and get washed every two weeks on the Sanitize setting of my washing machine.
Oh how I curse disposable water bottles… And I don’t know why there are still so many being used.
I have never had any qualms about drinking San Diego’s dirty tap water. BUT, I should note that Mr. Bone recently forked over $500 for the installation of a reverse osmosis drinking water filtration system. Sounds fancy. I’m not a water tester, and certainly no princess, so I would have gladly settled for the $200 Brita system from Home Depot. Even though it got terrible reviews.
All I know is there is an extra spigot at our sink and I miss the taste of my precious tap water. That being said, I’m obviously no one to give advice on filter systems. But this website looks like it might know what it’s talking about: http://water-filter-systems-review.toptenreviews.com/
Anyway, whether you have a filtration system, or pay 25 cents a gallon at the water dispenser outside of the grocery store, the easiest way to starting saving on those miserable 24 packs of water bottles is to buy reusable water bottles. I must stress having more than one reusable water bottle per person in the house. Unless you actually wash your dishes in a timely manner (I don’t, and probably never will).
There are plenty of options out there, but my FAVORITE thing to drink out of is glass. It doesn’t have that stainless steel taste, or the BPAs/life span of evil plastic.
If you must know how addicted I am to reusing… What I do is reuse the Starbucks jars that my husband gets from his frappuccinos. I know that sounds ghetto, but considering there are glass water bottles being sold at Target for $15… No thanks. I clean the sticker off, and voila!, I have a dishwasher-safe reusable water bottle with a lid. If my kids are using them, I put a koozie on it. Yes, I even pack them in their lunch bags like this. Sometimes I think I have more balls than brains. The plus side is, even if they lose their lunch bag with everything in it, I have lost no money on the water bottle.
Plastic Wrap and Plastic Baggies
I can’t remember the last time I bought plastic wrap. Generally, I store everything in Pyrex containers OR the plastic containers from sandwich meat or sour cream. You should see my stash… ha ha. This is super effective, and less annoying than dealing with plastic wrap. If I DO need some kind of disposable wrap, or I’m too lazy to find a container, I ALWAYS use aluminum foil because it is recyclable. Even then, combined with the use of all of the plastic containers I reuse and hoard, I have managed to only spend $20 a year on aluminum foil (1000 ft huge roll at Costco).
In addition to annoying Mr. Bone with my plethora of short tubs and mismatching lids, I use reusable snack and sandwich bags. These bags keep my snacks reasonably fresh until I’m ready to eat them, and my kids love taking them to school.
One excellent reason I use reusable snack and sandwich bags in my kids lunches is because they take up so much less room in their lunch bags than plastic containers, and they are super easy for my monsters to open and close. The same reasons I suppose people use plastic baggies.
Once these snack bags have been used, I either shake them off, hand wash them in the sink, or throw them in my kitchen-rag hamper in the garage. Easy peasy.
I crossed over to the dark side in 2009 when my first daughter was born, and started using cloth diapers. Eeeeeek! Yes, they are totally disgusting. But the affect fades away, much like the disgust of runny noses or the shock of being thrown up on. Don’t get me wrong, I still get those poopy diapers that make me want to take a shower in bleach. But in a way, these moments of disgust are bittersweet because they remind me that I’m still human and haven’t gotten completely lost in the magic of hippie land.
The start-up costs of cloth diapers can be kind of scary, but if you do your research on ebay, OR find a local facebook page for moms, it can be super affordable to make the big plunge.
I can go on and on about the use of cloth diapers, and most likely will write up a blog about what works best for me and my family. But not today. Long story short, they are totally worth it. If you have what it takes. Plus, you earn a lot of street cred. Ha ha.
I never made baby food with my first. I was way too paranoid to veer off the popular path, in fear of killing my little bundle of joy in some stupid and careless way. Now with my 3rd babe, I actually turned the other cheek when little dude (14 months) put day old brownie in his mouth. After he found it in our front yard. Report me if you want, CPS has bigger fish to fry.
Another long story short, life is a lot cheaper and easier after you realize you can boil or steam a $5 bag of carrots, pop it in the blender, and feed your baby for a month. Of course, real babies like variety. But I think I made the point clear. There are 2 tons of recipes, etc, online - I never bothered with that. Gotta cut corners whenever I can. In fact, my baby food was almost always last minute (shoot, you don’t even have to cook a pear…). FRESH, if you will. Lol To each his own.
And as much as I wanted a baby bullet, with all those cute containers, I reminded myself that I have a food processor at home and plenty of old baby food jars at home, too. However, I WILL recommend using reusable squeeze pouches. I don’t like using the infantino system, because it produces more dishes for me to wash, and adds another process that I don’t care to master. But when I purchased it at the Goodwill for $4, it inspired me to take my reusable lifestyle to the next step. So the $4 investment was worth every penny. Anyway, I prefer to use the yummi pouch .
There are many other options out there, but the yummi pouch satisfies me and mine. Even with the awkward placement of the opening on the side. Hey, there are far greater obstacles that my kids will have to overcome. Like living with a crazy hippie mom.