Cutting Out Paper Products Saves Money
Did you know that you can pay close to $2,000 each year for things that you will just throw out? Find out what you can do to quit spending that money and cutting out paper products to save money.
Have you ever really sat down and thought about how much money you pay for trash?
I know I didn’t. I was a “use as many paper towels as I need to in order to clean up” kind of girl. Until I really thought about what I was doing: I was just paying for trash.
I was standing in the grocery store holding the $2 roll of paper towels in my hand and I had an epiphany. I was using money from our tiny and very, very tight budget to buy single-use paper towels that I was going to half-use and then throw away.
Why was I doing that? Because everyone needs paper towels… don’t they?
No. No, they don’t!
I stopped buying paper towels forever that day. And not just paper towels. I stopped buying paper napkins, baby wipes, facial cleansing wipes, diapers, and I even tossed around the idea of ditching disposable toilet paper, too (I’m not brave enough to do “family cloth,” so the toilet paper stayed).
I cut out almost all paper products in my family and we’ve never looked back.
Cutting Out Paper Products Saves Money
It saves me a LOT of money, actually!
I mean, a LOT of money! Here’s the breakdown of all of the paper products that I should be buying:
- Paper towels: $5/week = $260/year
- Paper napkins: $2/week = $104/year
- Facial cleansing wipes: $5/week = $260/year
- Baby wipes (for 2): $3/week = $156/year
- Diapers (for 2): $20/week = $1,040/year
- Total: $1,820/year
Let me say that again in case you missed it: $1,820 per year!
I was paying, and still should be paying, $1,820 each year for one-time use items that ultimately wound up in the trash. That’s crazy!!
Of course, you might not have two babies in diapers, so that will save you a whopping $1,196. But let’s not pretend like spending $624 each year on paper products is chump change. That’s still a lot of money to be using on single-use items.
I’ve been cloth diapering my sons for 3 years now and I’ve only ever spent less than $300 on all of my supplies. I’ll share with you the cheapest ways to make cloth diapering super affordable.
It doesn’t make my life more difficult.
For a long time, I thought that ditching paper products would wind up being difficult and just not worth the effort. Thankfully, I was wrong. Very wrong!
Yes, you have to wash them and make the rags, but that’s not as tough as you might think.
How to start from the beginning with rags:
I promise it isn’t tough to get started using rags instead. More importantly, the price to get started is the same as buying a value pack of paper towels from Costco.
To get the most bang for your buck, here’s what you need to do:
- Go to your local Salvation Army on half-off-day (usually, it’s Wednesday, but you might want to check to make sure that you’re going on the right day).
- Get the fluffiest towels that you can find. Get some in darker colors and some light colors. This way, you have some that can be used to clean up darker, staining messes as well as some that can be bleached.
- Check for cotton tablecloths or sheets as well.
- Once you have everything home, cut them up into 6-12 inch squares. Don’t worry if there’s extra, or one is a rectangle and not a square. They’re rags, after all! 🙂
- If you want, or can, use your sewing machine to make the edges nicer and less messy.
- Wash everything, and you’re all set!
It’s really that easy to get started. You might spend $15 getting all of your rags, but that’ll be the only supplies that you’ll need for a long time. We’re going on 2 years with the same rags.
We use the rags cut from sheets at the dinner table instead of paper napkins. And we use the rags cut from the towels instead of paper towels. They’re more absorbent than paper towels, too!
Care and washing instructions:
You’ll want to wash the rags in the same way that you wash towels. I find that it’s best to use my homemade 2 ingredient detergent because it won’t leave any soap scum or buildup on the rags and will keep them absorbent for many, many uses in the future.
You should also skip the dryer sheets with the rags (and with towels, too). It makes them less absorbent and will lead to you replacing them before their time is truly up. Stick with wool dryer balls and lavender essential oils. You get the same wonderful scent, the towels and rags are even fluffier than before, and they last for years!
If you don’t sew the edged, they will fray around the edges when you wash them and dry them. That’s ok, just cut off the frayed parts and keep using them.
You don’t need to wash them in their own load of laundry either. Unless you’ve cleaned up bleach, you can throw them in with the regular laundry without needing to make a load of just rags. I usually err on the side of caution and wash them all in their own load anyway.
I usually err on the side of caution and wash them all in their own load anyway. Wash them in cold water to avoid staining and to save money. You might not want to wash them in the same load as your other clothes, but you can definitely dry them all together.
This will help to make sure that you’re not wasting money at all in your care for the rags.
I often hear that the money that you save by not buying paper towels is spent in all the laundry that you do. I haven’t found that to be true. Between washing in cold water and combining the laundry in the dryer, the amount of money used in energy costs is negligible.
This is an area of frugality that crossed very closely with being a hippie. If you ever feel uncomfortable telling someone that you’re not buying paper towels because cutting out paper products saves money, you could always just got with the “it’s better for the environment” excuse. For some reason, people are much more “ok” with doing things for the environment than they are to just save money. Weird, right?
No matter which way you look at it, cutting out paper products saves money. It really beefs up your savings if you’re cloth diapering your children instead of using disposable diapers.
But even just in paper towels, the savings is astounding. I could be spending more than $260/ year on paper towels, instead, I’ve spent $15 2 years ago and haven’t needed to buy any since. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment!
Have you ever cut out paper products to use a cloth alternative?
Marie @ SimpleHappyEasy says
I watched a show once about ‘extreme minimalism’ and one gal used rags as toilet paper for her family. I don’t think I could go to that ‘extreme’ but, I am totally on board with the no paper towels and cloth diapers.
We have actually minimized our kitchen to the point where each of us has one set of dishes and we rinse and reuse for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It cuts way back on time because I’m not constantly washing dishes. Plus, the dish detergent goes a lot further with only one load of dishes per day.
My youngest is 19-months and almost out of diapers!! Yee-haw mama!! 🙂
Marie @ SimpleHappyEasy recently posted…8 Beautifully Personalized Gifts You Need To Order Now To Have By Christmas
What about things like french fries or bacon that you usually put on a paper towel to absorb grease? Would the grease wash out of rags that are put in with a regular load of clothes?
I use these baking drying racks for greasy foods. I try to avoid greasy foods altogether, but I do keep an extra roll of paper towels for company and for grease and oil spills.
Sarah Little says
I have old dishtowels specifically for draining bacon. Afterwards, I throw them in a 1/2 full 5 gallon bucket of water with a good splash of vinegar where they soak until I have a load of filthy work clothes to was.
Also, I didn’t go buy rags, but rotated out our old t’shirts, dishtowels and sheets. Handkerchiefs or bandanas (the cowboy looking ones) I did buy and use them for napkins, cheesecloth, take them to work to use instead of napkins, and use them for handkerchiefs and bandanas.
Carol Irwin says
I cut up old tee shirts to use for kitchen towel, They were free and they don’t fray. I use them for fries and bacon too, just wash them in with towels and they are fine. If they don’t come clean I just use them for other dirty jobs like decorating or gardening and then bin them. I also cut up a single sheet that I no longer used, for handkerchiefs. I wash, line dry and then steam iron them to kill any lingering germs. save loads on paper tissues and much softer on noses
An easy way to do “family cloth” is to use it in conjunction with a bidet. When my babies were in diapers I used a cloth diaper sprayer to clean the dirty diapers. We kept it around and now use it as a bidet.
Because the “cloth toilet paper” is being used to dry off after spraying with water, rather than for messy clean up, it’s very easy to wash. I just throw it in with a load of towels every few days. The difference in cleanliness is quite noticeably better. My husband and 8 year old actually complain about not having a bidet when they’re out and about.
Another benefit is not getting the toilet clogged with all that paper or worrying about the kids using too much. We currently rent and when we buy a home, we’re definitely installing a bidet there!
Another thing we do to save money is not buy ziplock bags. Sandwich containers work fine and can be washed and reused.
That’s such a great point, Ruth! That’s so great how well it works for your family! 🙂