Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waste and the Economy

I don't know how each of your families has been affected by this downwards-spiraling economy, but, I have run across a LOT of people in this state who are suffering from job loss, lack of business, etc. I heard someone say, "It's gotten really bad. We haven't seen any work for weeks, now, and I've just had to start cutting back. Like, we don't buy paper towels anymore, and I just wash out my ziplock bags and reuse them." In response to that, I sorta chuckled, embarrassedly, because I already *DO* wash out my ziplock bags and reuse them....and I hardly ever BUY paper towels!

That conversation began to ruminate within me, and out came a series of Thoughts. Here they are for your inspection:

We spend money on TRASH. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that the "Household" portion of my budget is mainly taken up with things that I eventually will throw out. That's approxomately $75 of our income every month that ends up lining our trash cans. Wow. Here's the list of things I began tracking, and saw my own hands toss away every month:
  • plastic wrap
  • trash bags
  • razors
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • diapers
  • printer paper (most of it)
  • Soaps & Detergents
My goal is to eventually eliminate that list, thereby saving my family money, and causing less landfill-fodder for the future generations. So far I have replaced the following:

  • Trash bags---> Instead of paying for a $box$ filled with $plastic$ that will do nothing more than embrace my garbage on its way to the Dump, I now line a small trash can with plastic bags from the grocery store. Yes, I have to empty it every day, but it fits under my sink, and it keeps the stinky stuff from molding after 3 days of room temperature bacterial growth!
  • Plastic Wrap---> As often as possible, I store stuff in Tupperware, which I try to keep in good enough shape to last me for years. Or, I use a Mason Jar. Or, I use a ziplock bag. I've started buying the heavy freezer bags so that they last longer, through more washes. Hanging these on the fridge with a magnet after washing enables them to dry overnight. Simply put 'em right back into your drawer when they're dry. Good as New.
  • Razors---> My favorite. I bought my husband a nifty old-fashioned safety razor for Christmas, complete with soap, dish, & badger hair brush. WOW, does that thing give a great shave!!! He cut himself a couple times while figuring out how to use it, but it's the smoothest I've ever felt! And, yep, you guessed it. I now use it on my legs! It took a while to get used to; it's very heavy, and VERY sharp. I'm a pro, now, though, and LOVE not having to buy shaving cream (since it works best with a shallow, slippery surface rather than a thick foamy one.) It takes nearly a week before I need to shave again, it's such a close shave. The replacement blades are about $2 for a pack of 5, and they're tiny--so less waste to send to the Dump. So we save on shaving cream, razors, and cartridges with less waste all around!
  • Diapers---> This one is a no-brainer. USE CLOTH! I have made up my mind to start with the next child on something like what Denise uses. Oh, it also works to potty train them. Which we have successfully done. :)

I'm still working on the rest of the list. Q-tips (or, Q-cumbers, as Violet calls them) are a real tricky one. Also tampons.....not to get too personal.......but I do feel bad spending $$ on a huge box (Costco) of them knowing that every last bit of them (including the box they're sold in) is going to end up just Costly Trash at some point. I know this may seem a bit extreme to some of you, but I believe that a more frugal lifestyle is going to become necessary (and helpful) to all of us in the future. Cutting back is good for the Budget and the Environment.


The Nolls said...

Hi there! I really enjoy coming to your blog from time to time, and I especially just enjoyed your recent posts about trying to change lifestyle to cut costs and help the environment. We have been trying to do that too, and it has really had a positive effect on our budget and it certainly feels good to be working harder in order to make a small difference.
I have never used it, but I thought you may be interested in the "diva cup" as an alternative to tampons. I'm in a perpetual child-bearing cycle these years, so I haven't had need for one yet, but I have heard great things from the girls I know who use them. It might be worth checking out. From your posts, you seem the type to be open to and brave enough for something like that :)

Our oldest is the same age as your little one, and it's fun to see how similar they are and how fun this stage of parenting and learning is.

May God bless you and your family!

Herb of Grace said...

I'm with you on the plastic wrap (haven't bought it in years), and garbage bags and the others I have grand aspirations to avoid, but don't always. Here's the link to the diva cup info: I was commenting to suggest it to you and then noticed that Sarah-Beth had posted about it. I've hemmed and hawed about it for a long time now. If you decide to try it, let me know what you think of it.

Chadd said...

For even cheaper blades, buy them in bulk! Derby Extra's go for about $15 for 100, and Dorco and other brands are even cheaper. Check out or for deals...

Hosanna said...

Ive been doing the same. For trash bags, I use our empty horse, dog and cat food bags, as we buy all our animal food in 25-50lb. bags. I also wash out my ziplock bags, compost veggie garbage, and recycle our paper paper, cardboard, metal cans, newspaper, glass and plastic bottles.
I read about the diva cup in Mary Jane's Farm magazine - but have not tried it.

Denise said...

Susi, this is a great post, regardless of the difficult economic times. I think we all need to try our best to work towards a frugal lifestyle.

I am really interested in that razor... Tell me where you got it and how much it cost?

I feel the same way you do about ziploc/plastic wrap/foil. I use tupperware whenever I can.

I don't think I could get used to the trash bag thing, though. :( I know, that's bad.

I want to switch to cloth napkins like you use at your home. I think paper napkins are such a waste. But I think I have to find better absorbency ones, because Jonathan does not like them whenever I don't have paper available too!

I've had friends who use the diva cups (or instead cups, same thing). I want to, when it's time again, since I've got unexplained infertility, and I've read some things about tampons *potentially* causing blood to back up into the uterus and tubes & I think lead to endometriosis. Just in my case, I'd like to rule out anything.

I mostly use q-tips for make-up fixes, and would love a brush/thing to take its place. You have made me think to go look!

Thank you for such a practical, great post! I am all for this.

I think you have one too, but getting a goldtone coffee filter saves on buying the paper filters!

Joy G said...

Thanks for all these great ideas, Susi. I LOVE finding ways to save money. I'm still trying to figure out the whole ziploc/plastic wrap/container thing. Sometimes I just really need a good Ziploc!

I don't use q-tips. Ha. What an admission. Now you know I don't clean the inside of my ears.

Btw, I have tip for you. I use disposable razors, but I use conditioner versus shaving cream.

I don't know if I could switch the diapers! That is a hard one for me, but I admire those who do it.

Susannah Forshey said... is a good source for all things shaving! Be sure to check out their shaving soaps, too!