Day Three: Dependent on Disposables

by Josée

Today is day three of the Household Waste Challenge. If you haven’t already, there is still time to go and download the Household Waste Challenge Chart (pdf) (excel) (sample with instructions). If you aren’t interested in participating I invite you to continue reading the posts this week and think about ways to reduce waste in your home. Also, don’t forget to enter yesterday’s Kootsacs giveaway!

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Many of the things we buy are meant to be used once and then trashed. Disposable products have become the norm for most of us. Marketers have convinced us that these items are our best option because they are cleaner and more convenient. While these claims may be true in the short term, they conveniently (no pun intended) ignore the long term effects these products have on our bodies and the environment.

The thought of giving up disposable products makes many of us cringe. Could you imagine giving up toilet paper? I can’t. How about light bulbs? Menstrual care products? Baby diapers? Marketers have us stuck in their purchasing program and most of the time we can’t see a way out. We’ve become dependent on disposables.

Some disposable products pose more problems than others. Here is one kind of disposable product that I believe people should stop buying:

Paper Towels, Napkins and Facial Tissue

Canadians are one of the world’s largest consumers of paper products. It’s convenient to forget that paper comes from trees and that it takes 19 full grown trees to make 1000 kg of paper (Environment Canada). When trees are cut for making paper not only are the trees removed, the whole surrounding ecosystem can be adversely affected.

Paper towels, napkins and facial tissue are particularly wasteful because you can’t recycle or reuse them once they are soiled. I have read, however, that you can compost them but there seems to be some debate about this. You wouldn’t, for example, want to compost paper towel that was used to wipe up grease or chemicals. The reality is though that the majority of paper towels, napkins and facial tissues end up in the trash. So, the next time these paper products run out in your home I challenge you to resist buying more. Instead invest in some reusable products.

Medline 1 Dozen Cotton Herringbone Dish TowelsPaper towels can be replaced with dish or tea towels. Start with a half or a full dozen towels. Dish towels are inexpensive and do a better job then paper. When the towels start to look ratty use them as rags or donate them to a car shop or animal shelter.

Napkins and facial tissues can also be replaced with cloth. Buy some new napkins or find some nice second hand ones at the thrift store. If you can sew they’re easy to make. The Purl Bee has a pretty spring napkin tutorial that’s worth checking out.

Facial tissues or handkerchiefs can be a little more challenging to find. Using flannel or cotton wipes, like these, are a good option. Most cloth diapering companies sell similar wipes. To save on money I sewed receiving blankets that I got through into 20cm squares. But sometimes when my little ones are really sick I simply use a whole receiving blanket as a snot rag.

Depending on your household there may be other disposable dependences that might be more difficult to overcome than paper towels and napkins. For these items the first step is to be aware then slowly start making a gradual switch to reusable products.

Plastic Wrap 
Glad Cling Plastic Wrap, 400-foot RollsOur society has an unhealthy addiction to plastic food wrap and baggies. I’ve been going through my share withdrawal since the last roll of plastic wrap ran out in December. I still get urges to buy plastic wrap and baggies every time I see them. They are so handy and you can never have enough, right? Some types of plastic wraps are worse than others. Mindful Mommas has a great Plastics Wrap 101 post with more information about plastic wrap if you just can’t do without it.
But it is possible to live without plastic wrap and baggies and it’s better for your health, wallet and the environment. Initially I turned to wax paper to fill in the gap, but I’m slowly finding other ways. Try placing a plate on top of a bowl, or invert a bowl on top of a plate. I use this technique often for storing leftover in the fridge. Reusable containers are also great for storing food and stashing snacks. Cloth baggies are a creative way to pack snacks in diaper bags or school lunches. Etsy has some great reusable snack bags that are on sale right now for Earth Week check out WasteNotSaks and MojaCreations.


In Canada, over 4 million disposable diapers are trashed each day (Environment Canada). The debate over the merits of cloth diapers versus disposables is ongoing. Of course there are issues with both but disposables do create more waste. Making the switch from disposables to cloth can be daunting. There are so many different options, which to choose? It’s good to compare options and ask around.
But maybe you’ve tried cloth diapering and came away feeling disappointed and frustrated. The diapers were smelly or you couldn’t keep up on the laundry. Or maybe cloth diapering isn’t an option because your community has water issues or your septic system can’t handle diaper laundry. In these cases I encourage families to check into the cloth diapering options again. There are solutions to smell problems and even the new hybrid diapering systems (gDiapers, Flip) might be doable for families that thought cloth diapering wasn’t an option for them. After all, there are many benefits to cloth diapering.

But whether or not you use cloth diapers, using cloth swim diapers is easy and a great way to help reduce waste. Which brings me to the giveaway…

The giveaway for day three of the Household Waste Challenge is sponsored by Cozy Bums. Cozy Bums is an earth friendly Canadian cloth diaper company that provides a wide range of cloth diapering options for families. The website is full of helpful information such as Why Use Cloth?, Choosing a Diaper Style and Diaper Care & Use Guides. The owner Katie is very helpful and offers Diaper Discovery Workshops for those that live in the area.

I am a big fan of Cozy Bums and have purchased diapers and accessories in the past. Their service is wonderful and the prices are very competitive.

Without further ado, the giveaway:

A reusable Swimmi swim diaper.

This swim diaper is a size large 10-13.5 kg (22-30 lbs) and comes in a clown fish pattern pictured above.

Thank you to Cozy Bums for today’s giveaway!

Enter the Giveaway:

1) Leave a comment below about one disposable item that your household can do without. Please leave an email address if you do not have a link on your name so I can contact you if you win.

2) Visit Cozy Bums and then come back here and comment by telling me which cloth diapers or diapering accessory you already use or would like to try.

3) Facebook, blog or tweet about this giveaway and link back to this blog. Leave a separate comment for each thing you’ve done telling me you’ve done so.

So there are multiple ways of entering this giveaway!

The giveaway ends Sunday, April 24, 2011 at midnight.
The winner will be announced on April 25, 2011.

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FrancesEden April 19, 2011 - 6:11 pm

Giving up Saran wrap would be hard! Same with my little baggies.
But in surrey right now, we have a fantastic compost trial program that we can compost all of our tissues and paper towel. Our garbage can rarely has anything stinky in it anymore 🙂

And we love cloth diapering! The only way to go now 🙂

Chantell April 19, 2011 - 8:09 pm

What a coincidence – we went swimming last night and I decided I wanted to look into reusable swim diapers!!! I hope I win 🙂 I already dont use paper towel or napkins, but kleenex is something we use in excess. I do use receiving blankets on th kids when they are sick, but some how think its more gross when I blow my nose in them? My older, larger snot is much more disgusting then cute baby snot?! Lol. We will use less food wrap this week and from now on, choosing reusable containers. I am looking to use less plastic containers as well, because of the phalates I think it was, any one know of any good, glass, storage containers?

Chantell April 19, 2011 - 8:15 pm

I checked out CozyBums – they don't have gDiapers…maybe because you can by them locally at a few stores. We used them in the past with hunter but didn't find them effective because I was still washing diapers AND throwing out the insert. I am thinking of contacting Katie about a diaper discover session – possibly switching A. over, wondering is it too late in the game to be cost effective? Also to ask her if there is diapers that also function as training pants? Food for thought, as always, great post Josee!

Chantell April 19, 2011 - 8:20 pm

I also Facebooked this post as well 🙂

caedmen April 19, 2011 - 9:06 pm

I would love to switch to cloth napkins.

richardrachel at hotmail dot com

caedmen April 19, 2011 - 9:07 pm

I use the grovia hybrid system which they stock and I would love to try the new grovia newborn AIO diapers on my next baby.

richardrachel at hotmail dot com

caedmen April 19, 2011 - 9:09 pm


richardrachel at hotmail dot com

breannep April 19, 2011 - 11:24 pm

I would like to try to stop using paper towels…
We use cloth diapers from cozy bums, and right now the Grovia AIO's are my favourite.

Anonymous April 19, 2011 - 11:26 pm

I use fuzzi bunz cloth diapers bought from Cozy Bums and try to limit my use of papertowel.

Kyler and Sylvia April 19, 2011 - 11:29 pm

I am hoping to kick the sandwich bag habit. As soon as i get my sewing machine back, i'm planning on making some cloth ones for DH to try. Not sure if my name will link to an email so we're

Kyler and Sylvia April 19, 2011 - 11:36 pm

I would love to try a few different things:
Super Lite diaper cover
Baby Kangas
or even something like RockNGreen detergent or the cloth diaper sprayer.

Kyler and Sylvia April 19, 2011 - 11:38 pm

Posted on facebook!

Anonymous April 20, 2011 - 2:46 am

I have a small addiction to disposable cleaning wipes:0 and could probably do away with them all together. Will try to use cloth from now on.

Anonymous April 20, 2011 - 2:48 am

I currently use pocket diapers during the day and Flips at night. I would love to purchase some more flips as I find they are super easy. I think I will buy atleast 1 day pack as I have quite a few microfibre inserts… which I couldn't live without!

Anonymous April 20, 2011 - 2:51 am Reply
Elisa April 20, 2011 - 2:53 am

Your blog is my study break tonight. =) I have been using plates for leftovers for a while now. I still keep seran wrap on hand for every once in a great while. I would like to know where to recycle aluminum foil. I don't use it that much, and I do know that you can wash it over and over and over again. We use cloth napkins (love the tutorial, btw), and cloth diapers. BUT, I do still use disposable wipes, mainly when I'm on the go…so I'd like to hear what people use as baby wipes when they are out. I have thought of bringing along my cloth wipes w/ a pray bottle?

PS: We don't have a morning prayer…I try to do the morning offering (have it taped to the front door), but I've been forgetting a lot. I might print something out for the breakfast table.

Elisa April 20, 2011 - 2:54 am

Oh, love the cozy bums website! How fun! I'm really tempted to buy their cloth wipes. I also like the looks of the kissaluvs wool diaper cover. My baby has been having rashes lately w/ my prefolds & pul covers…could be something else…but I thought I'd try wool first before heading to the doc.

Elisa April 20, 2011 - 2:56 am

Ok, one more..I'm tweeting about this giveaway. I also think you should add the share buttons to below your posts so I can easily share on facebook! Check out sharethis dot com. I love their buttons & easy to add. =)

Josée April 20, 2011 - 4:51 am

Thanks for the suggestion Elisa! I've added the widget 🙂

Manna April 20, 2011 - 6:34 am

I would like to try doing without paper towels… we use way too much.

Manna April 20, 2011 - 6:37 am

I couldn't do without my cloth diaper detergent! Love Rockin Green detergent.
I would love to try the FB hemp inserts when they are available again!

Andrea April 20, 2011 - 9:56 am

I'd like to try doing away with paper towels 🙂

Andrea April 20, 2011 - 9:57 am

We use a combination of Fuzzibunz and bumgenius diapers mostly.. would love to try out Charlie Bananas!

Andrea April 20, 2011 - 9:59 am Reply
thefirstfouryears April 21, 2011 - 11:53 am

My husband and I stopped buying paper towels about two years ago. It felt so hard at first, but we have a nice assortment of rags now and I honestly don't even remember why we ever used paper towels.

I definitely want to stop using disposable diapers. We did cloth while I was on maternity leave, but our daycare won't do them (for understandable reasons). Anyway, next child = me staying home = cloth diapers all around!!

So, yes, I would love to win the swim diaper 🙂

Nicole April 23, 2011 - 4:35 am

We do without lots of disposables – like you say, our society is a bit brainwashed about needing them! We use cloth versions of napkins, baby wipes & diapers, menstrual pads and paper towels.

Chantell asked about good glass containers. We got some really good ones at Costco (I know, big box store…). They're called Glasslock, and they do not leak! Plastic lids unfortunately, but your food doesn't have to touch that.

Elisa asked about tips for bringing cloth diaper wipes when going out. We just wet them with water, from a sink or water bottle. However, if we want warm wipes, we bring along a thermos of hot water. We actually fill it every morning and use it at home to avoid running the tap every time we want a warm wipe! Water is fine, but you can always add cleansers if you want.

Great posts, Josee, I'm glad I found this!

Anonymous April 23, 2011 - 9:13 am

I'd like to give up the paper towels…but one thing we've done to reduce the amounts of containers in our home that house creams, lotions, diaper creams, moisturizers, etc. is through the use of virgin coconut oil. I purchase one large 1.57 L container of this great stuff and we use it for everything from moisturizing our skin, faces, hair, eardrops, baby's bottoms, makeup remover, to even cooking with it! A very healthy fat to consume and it tastes super yummy….I never would have dreamed of all of the uses for VCO and just look at all the containers that no longer line up our bathroom countertop! I can definitely do without all of those extra space wasters!!! (and just to clarify, I have a little glass bowl of VCO in the bathroom that is only for skin useage…seperate from the one that I use for cooking in the kitchen.)
~christine (you know who :>)


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