More Alternatives to “Throw-Away” Items

making good use of resources after teotwawki

A while back, I did a posting on some food storage items you may want to look into as alternatives to things like plastic ziptop bags and wraps.  Also, we’ve covered cloth diapers and “baby wipes” here.  This time, I want to look at a few more handy household items that are usually disposable, but don’t have to be.

If you’ve ever looked critically at your shopping list, you have probably noticed that it usually includes a few items that you consider “essentials,” but are disposable and require buying over and over.  Many are paper products.  Some that come to mind are tissues, napkins, paper towels, TP, and straws.  Have you given thought yet to how you would cope without a steady new supply of those?

Other Options

1.  Tissues

This one probably isn’t a hard one to figure out.  What did Grandpa always have in his pocket?  A handkerchief.  Maybe not as sanitary seeming as individual tissues that you toss after use, but time-tested, less linty, and more durable.  My dad still talks about how his mother would get her lace hanky out of her purse, use her own spit, and clean his face before they went in public places.

The white handkerchiefs of yesteryear aren’t as easy to find anymore, but there is a readily available alternative- the bandanna.  Craft stores, TSC, and big box stores all seem to carry them and often for a dollar or less apiece.

They have lots more uses than just nose-wiping and smudge cleaning, though.  They have a place in your bug-out bag, get-home car kit, first aid kit, and so on.  There are a hundred uses for them.

2.  Napkins

We’ve been thinking about these things for quite some time.  Years back, we made the switch from paper napkins to cloth.  You can frequently find them in restaurant supply and warehouse club stores for reasonable prices.  We’ve had the same ones for many years.  As an added bonus, the black ones won’t show spaghetti stains.

3.  Paper Towels

I’ve been puzzling over a really good alternative to these for a while.  We keep a set of old utility type towels and washable microfiber cleaning cloths (in addition to our regular dish towels), but those still aren’t quite like paper towels.  My dear friend Melissa sent me this link, though.  I’m very excited about these as an alternative.

I’ve been pricing terry cloth and flannel and finally decided to give these a go, but with a slight variation.  I cannot find terry cloth at a reasonable price or enough in the same color, so instead I bought really thick flannel sheets on clearance in the largest sizes I could find.  I think I will just do double-thickness flannel and see how they work out.    I already have a set of pliers for putting snaps on (from my diaper-making days), so there won’t be any extra expense there.  So, the next time the boys go on a weekend camping trip, I think I’ll take over the dining room with my project.

4.  Toilet Paper

This is a very important topic, but one that really needs a whole posting on its own.  It seems we’ve done a few related topics lately, but I’ll try to get to this one before too much longer.

5.  Straws

While this one is not as important as some of the others, straws are convenient for cups with lids to prevent spills.  Here are some I found that I would like to try.  They have other versions, including glass and “bendy” ones, too.  We have a lot of children, so glass ones seem unwise for us.  The “bendy” ones just seem like they won’t last as long, so I think I’ll stick with the plain.

What else have you found to replace the disposables you used to use?  Any brands or sites you’d recommend?  Please mention them in the comments section.

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12 Comments on “More Alternatives to “Throw-Away” Items”

  1. millenniumfly Says:

    Thanks for these good ideas. As a society we ‘re so accustom to discarding after use! It’s nice to reconsider options from the past.


  2. Anisah of South Dakota Says:

    You can get the old high quality linen hankies at antique malls for very little. Not as easy to get good quality bandanas as the new ones found in craft stores aren’t using the same quality COTTON to make them. Instead they are made from cheap synthetic mixes. So look for the cotton ones! They sometimes can be found at the Farmer’s supply places where farmers buy their clothing!

    Also buy where farmers buy clothing, not the trendy places. Often these clothes are made to be worn for a much longer time before falling apart. Additionally, they tend to be “cheaper” in price but not in quality, due to the fact Famers & Ranchers are people who won’t waste their money on crappy products that fall apart. So farm supply companies know they’d better have quality that lasts. These farmer clothes too are designed to be out in the weather! So they are better in less pleasant conditions. Keep you warmer and drier. Remember most of today’s clothing is designed for running from the car to the building…both being heated or air conditioned. Not designed to keep us ALIVE. So remember this when stocking up on clothing items. If you were out in the elements will your clothing keep you safe? Or is it merely fashionable?


  3. Shirley Toney Says:

    Shirley Toney May 30, 2012 These are such great ideas on alternatives to throw away items. I have found a great replacement for toilet paper. A portable bidet is the answer. You can find them on Ebay and Amazon. It is basically a squeeze bottle with a bent tube to wash the “nether regions”. An even better idea is a wash bottle. Before I retired from teaching science, I used wash bottles for lab clean up. Just remove the inside tube so the water can be squeezed out upside down. You can also find them on Ebay or Amazon. They can be an inexpensive bidet. Ladies can also purchase cheap washcloths to use after urination. Use them once or more than once and then wash. These will come in handy when all of the stored toilet paper eventually runs out.


  4. Rodger Hochmuth Says:

    When ordering restaurant supplies, i usually go online to find the best prices. there are many online stores that offer great discounts. ..`:,

    My own blog site


  5. Jack4e Says:

    About that toilet paper. Google an article called the family cloth


  6. David C. Says:

    I love Repurposing and recycling. I save everything from Altoid tins to glass liqour bottles. Heres a few ideas of my own that I do.
    -Plastic centerfire pistol cartridge trays. I save them and use them for things like screw and small part holders. Good to have when you DCOA your firearm because you can put up to 50 of everything from springs to pins.
    -Plastic rimfire ammo boxes (CCI, Federal, Hornady). Heres a Youtube video that I made about the reusability of these containers. (If you wantch, can you please like or comment? I will greatly appreciate it!)


  7. Phen375 Reality Says:

    This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I
    have found something which helped me. Appreciate it!



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