six days of cloth reusables
As I'm folding all these bits I wonder if it really helps, does this make a difference to the environment, to our spending? Then I think of all the years these pieces of fabric have given us, they've been used over and over again and I know we've saved. Although there is the initial investment of the raw resource (cotton) and fuel to mill and transport that fabric. These items are used repeatedly for many years. This saves us money and decreases our use of environmental resources. Any of these items can also be made from reclaimed clothing and household textiles (sheets, towels, etc) and this is likely the ideal.
The picture was taken after six days of reusables for a family of five, the pads are only used about four days each month. This would easily equal one small load of laundry a week (if you chose to wash them all together, I don't. You can see my washing routine below).
I wish I had thought to count how many of each item we used, and I didn't include dish cloths and tea towel in the photo. Since we don't use paper towel I probably to use more dishcloths and tea towels than most families (and I also have a dishcloth complex, I'm always changing them!)
In the picture....
~Cloth Pads: I can count 23 pads in the picture. This was enough for my 3 day cycle this past month (when using tampons and disposable pads my period was easily 7 days long). Clearly I'm a big fan of cloth pads ;-) and I have way more cloth pads than any woman could possibly need, some of the pads from my last cycle are fairly new. Several are at least 5 years old, they look great and will last many more years.
~Cloth napkins: we use these instead of paper napkins. I don't put them out at every meal but the kids know where they are and get one if they need it. These napkins were a shower gift at my first wedding, making them about 12 years old. They're a little faded, but they're still perfectly fine for their intended use.
~Wipes and tissues: these are pretty amazing. I've had many of these since I was cloth diapering my son 9 years ago. When he potty trained I didn't know what to do with these (still useful) wipes so I decided we'd use them as hankies. At that time I was a single mom, and every bit helped. When Rowan potty trained her wipes went into the pile of wipes too (I loved those bright wipes). Now we have so many cloths that I keep a pile tucked in the bathroom cupboard and when we have a cold going through the house I just get them out so we have lots of extras. I have learned to keep a box of kleenex in the house for company. **this is one area of my cloth routine I would like to change, currently I fold many wipes through the week, I figure I waste 1 second of time for each wipe. Over 9 years that's a lot of wasted time!! I'd like to find a cute basket that I just toss the clean ones into, no more folding them!**
~Rags: I use these to clean the bathroom and for other kinda gross jobs that I don't want to use a dishcloth on. The rags are just old t-shirts cut into pieces.
~Family Cloth (aka toilette paper): this is one reusable some people are uncomfortable with and I get it. I don't remember how I came to start using it, I think it was around when Rowan was potty training and thinking of all the toilette paper we would be using. I figured I was already using cloth to wipe her, so why not keep using cloth? Then I got to thinking about my own usage and thought I might as well too. My justification is that I save money on toilette paper as well as avoiding extra waste in our septic bed which could be a huge savings. The whole family doesn't use family cloth and I'm just fine with that.
~Face cloths: most of these face cloths came from a surplus of unused hand towels, I cut them and serged the edges. For both my kids I've had a stack of face cloths for after meals, their hand and face get a quick wipe off (even if they don't like it) and they're ready to play without trailing their meal all over the house!
I try to wash like things together, while still being smart about my water and electricity usage. Usually I pre-rinse my cloth pads, family cloth and cleaning rags. Then I'll put some towels in with them and run the load.
The cloth tissues, facecloths, and napkins just get tossed into the laundry hamper with like colours and washed with the regular laundry.
I don't notice a great amount of work to using cloth washables but as you can tell it's been a slow evolution of replacing cloth with paper in our home. My spouse is supportive of it, that makes it easier. It saves us money, not loads of money but each frugal change adds up to bit of money. Although we can afford to buy paper towels and boxed tissues, I'd rather not. I could buy disposable menstrual products but after switching over 8 years ago to cloth there's no way I would ever go back to using the disposable products, even if they were free I'd still reach for some cloth.