Could you live without most modern paper products?
“What Could I Live Without?” is an exercise to challenge our thinking about habits and products that we take for granted in our modern world.
My intent is not to demonize the use of any product or service, but to look for alternatives and options to enhance a sense of self-reliance.
Paper products are likely the most overused commodity of today. From disposable diapers to paper towels to baby wipes, we all use paper products without much thought every day.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of paper products, due to the fact that they clutter up land fills. However, as someone who has sought alternatives to paper products over the years, I have to question the efficiency of using electricity, water and soap to wash these alternatives. Whether you choose to pollute valuable ground water by washing or fill up another landfill, you’re contributing to your carbon footprint.
Limiting my need for and dependence upon paper products is my primary concern. Let’s examine a few common products and discuss alternatives.
Paper towels: I must say that I’ve never been much of a paper towel user. Growing up with a kitchen towel always handy, I still don’t use them to dry my hands. As I often see advertised, I do not use paper towels to clean up messes, a dish washing rag does the job around here.
Rags are frequently used in our home for chores, then thrown in the wash. That being said, it doesn’t take long to create another load of laundry for Mom to wash. Here again, sometimes I question if it’s worth the time, soap and labor to completely avoid paper towels.
The real question is could you give them up, if needed? What option can you best sustain?
Exercising our other options frequently can loosen our dependency on the modern day convenience items.
Disposable diapers: I love cloth diapers, but I didn’t always. Actually, my introduction to the world of cloth diapers came with a bit of duress, for which I am thankful for now. As the babies came over the years and my experience grew, I began to sew my own cloth diapers to make up for deficits in design that I couldn’t tolerate. This step alone contributed to my overall success with cloth diapers and I stuck with them for many years.
I’ve had two toddlers at a time in cloth diapers. I’ll admit that it takes a commitment to stick with it, but I saved so much money that it was worth it. Saving disposable diapers for when we went to church (nursery workers don’t like cloth and I don’t blame them!) worked well.
I kept a lidded 5-gallon bucket, with a little bleach and detergent in the water, in the kitchen to toss dirty diapers in. There was never an odor once the soiled diapers hit the water, and I washed them once a day before bedtime.
Feminine products: We’ve come a long way, baby! With products like Luna pads and the Diva cup, every female should educate herself about what options are available these days!
Paper napkins: I’ve done all that can be done here, let me tell you. At the end of the day, I’m sticking with paper napkins. With 9 kids and 27 meals served (at least!) at day, it just doesn’t pay off.
For smaller families, cloth napkins are a beautiful touch at the table. They are economical, elegant and sustainable….unless you’re me.
Have you ever given much thought to your use of paper products? Are you opening to loosening their grip on your daily habits??