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Going Paperless Around the House

The following post is from Emily of Live Renewed:

source: Frank Hebbert

It’s nothing new to hear that we live in a convenience and disposable society.

I’m actually kind of surprised that someone hasn’t come up with disposable clothing, that we can wear once and then throw away, so we don’t have to be bothered with laundering and storing our clothing!

Actually, when I think about an idea like disposable clothing, it sounds pretty ridiculous. I really don’t think anyone would claim that we all should be wearing disposable paper clothing because it is better for the environment due to the energy and water use associated with cleaning and re-wearing our regular clothes.

And yet, when we use and throw away paper products all around our homes, that is pretty much exactly what we are doing.

Saying that we can’t be bothered with the inconvenience of washing and storing cloth wipes and rags to use and reuse around our homes, or that the impact on the environment of using paper towels, and other paper products, is the same as the impact of the energy and water used to launder cloth towels and rags.

This month on my blog, Live Renewed, I’ve been sharing lots of tips and ideas for green spring cleaning.  One of the main ways that I have “greened” my cleaning routine is by switching to cloth, instead of paper towels, for all of my cleaning.  And not just for cleaning, we have switched to reusable cloth alternatives all around our home (except for the bathroom – that’s one we’re still not quite willing to give up).

Maybe you’ve been thinking about switching to cloth instead of paper, but it seems overwhelming to you. Here are some simple steps you can take towards replacing paper products with reusable cloth all around your house.

1. Start Slow

You don’t have to shift to using no paper in the house overnight —  that’s not practical or realistic.  You also don’t have to throw out all your paper so that you can start using cloth, that would kind of defeat the purpose anyway.

Instead, make some easy changes that will slowly move you towards using less and less paper, and maybe eventually to a paperless home.

Move Your Paper Towels

Start by moving your paper towels to an out of the way, inconvenient place so that you are less likely to just grab one without thinking. Then move your cloth wipes and rags to a more convenient place.  See how quickly you get used to using a cloth instead of paper towel.

Create a Washing Routine

You’ll need to figure out a routine that works for you and your family for washing your cloth.  This looks different and works differently for each family.

We have a mesh laundry hamper at the bottom of our basement stairs, where the laundry room is.  As I use rags, I throw them down the stairs into the hamper, and I usually wash rags and towels twice a week – I have two young children, so we make lots of messes!  I’ve also heard of other families that just throw their cloths in with their regular laundry.

Find a system that works for you.

2. Create A Habit

Get used to replacing one type of paper at a time, like paper towels, with cloth alternatives.  You don’t have to get rid of your paper towels, napkins, tissues, etc. all at one once.

Use Cloths that Suit Your Needs

Think about what you use your paper towels for, and come up with an alternative type of cloth that will do that same job, and often do it better.  We use washcloths for our kids, and bar mop towels for all of our cleaning and wiping up around the kitchen.

source: Darlene

3. Get Creative

Once you’ve created a habit of using cloth instead of paper in one area, start thinking about the other disposable paper products that you use around your home and how you can replace them with reusable cloths.  After our family stopped using paper towels, it only made sense to switch to cloth all around our home.

Cloth napkins instead of paper

This is an easy switch if you’ve already stopped using paper towels.

Flannel wipes instead of tissues

I cut up some flannel baby blankets into squares that we use for hankies

Cloth wipes as part of your cloth diapering routine

We use the thin cheap baby washcloths, and make our own wipe solution, for cloth wipes that work much better than disposable wipes when changing our toddler’s diapers, and also wiping our potty-trained preschooler.

Reusable Swiffer cloths

I used cheap Gerber prefold diapers to make reusable covers for my swiffer mops.  Microfiber cloths would also work really well for this.

Reusable Disinfecting Wipes

Use cut up old t-shirts and a disinfecting solution to make a safe, effective and reusable alternative to Clorox wipes.

Family Cloth

If you’re ready to make the leap towards a completely paperless home, Megan at Sorta Crunchy has great information on using cloth wipes in the bathroom.

Getting started is the first step.

After you’ve made a change in one area, it’s easy to think of creative ways to use what you already have, or come up with a reusable alternative, to disposable paper products all around your home. And before you know it, you will be well on your way to creating a paperless home!

How have you replaced paper products with cloth around your home?  Are there any disposable paper products that you have not been able to find a good alternative for?

Emily McClements is passionate about living with compassion and caring for creation in a way that will impact the world. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.