A while back, I shared this article about reducing your trash output. One of the ways we did this was going paperless in as many areas of our home as possible. When I first looked into going paperless, it seemed a bit intimidating. But it was simpler than I expected, and to be honest, we haven’t missed paper products. Plus going paperless has great benefits-it’s good for the environment, it saves money, and reduces the amount of trash we produce. Keep reading as I share the ways we went paperless throughout the house!
- Napkins: I made my own cloth napkins using this super easy tutorial. It took me an afternoon to make 6. My kitchen will eventually be black and white with red accents, so my napkins are reversible and made with fabrics to match. Even better I used fabrics that were leftover from other projects or scraps given to me by a friend. This saved even more money and waste! Now we don’t need to buy paper napkins or paper towels. This saves us about $5 a month, or $60 a year.
- Paper towels: I use old towels for cleaning up messes, again eliminating the need for paper towels. Once used, I toss them in the hamper to be washed.
- Coffee filters: Granted, these aren’t terribly expensive. We only spent about $6 a year, or .50 a month on coffee filters. A reusable one costs about $5, so it pays for itself a little less than a year. Regardless, it still means less paper trash. We were tossing 1-2 of the paper coffee filters a day.
- A note: I still prefer paper towels for certain messes, such as pet mess. But we have significantly reduced how much we use. Now I might buy a roll every couple of months.
This may be a little TMI, so if you’re squeamish, you may want to skip to the end. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
- Feminine products: Without sharing gory details, my cycles are horrible. I was spending $20 a month on products, so I switched to these cloth pads. I bought 6 each of two sizes for $53 and couldn’t be happier. They absorb 2-3 times as much as disposable pads and I never have to worry about running out! I also purchased one of these Blossom Cups for about $13. The total cost was $66, so these products paid for themselves in about 3 months. I now save about $240 a year.
- Toilet paper: I must admit, I wasn’t initially thrilled with the idea of switching to cloth for toilet paper (also known as family cloth). My husband actually convinced me to give it a try. Previously, we used a combination of toilet paper and baby wipes, costing about $10 a month. For the family cloth, I cut flannel into wipe sized pieces with pinking shears. We have a special trash can for it that I line with an old pillowcase so all I have to do is pull it out of the can and toss everything in the washer. I add an extra hot rinse to keep everything nice and clean. We also use a wipe spray to go along with the cloth. I fill a spray bottle mostly with water and add a teaspoon of castile soap and a tablespoon of witch hazel. For extra messy jobs, we simply spray the cloth before using. As it turns out, I’m happy my husband convinced me to switch. The flannel is softer than toilet paper and I feel like I get much cleaner. We don’t use baby wipes and toilet paper all the time, saving us about $10 a month or $120 a year.
- A note: We still buy toilet paper for guests and baby wipes for use on the go. However, our usage is reduced so much that we only have to buy those products maybe every 6 months. It definitely feels good to do something good for the environment while saving money.
- Cotton rounds: I use these when applying my makeup. I could buy a package for $1 and it would last me a month. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but everything adds up. So I made a set of 8 using this tutorial. This was another super easy project. I think I finished them in less than an hour. This one saves us $1 a month, or $12 a year.
- Tissue: We might have used one box of tissue a month. At $2 a box, we were spending $24 a year. So we switched to handkerchiefs. Some people find this gross; to each their own.
- Lint rollers: This isn’t strictly a paper product, but it is an area of significant savings potential. With 5 cat and 5 dogs, we need to de-hair a lot: clothes, furniture, our bed, it seems like a losing battle. We used to spend $10 or more a month on lint rollers. Then I found these Gonzo Pet Hair Lifters. They pick up pet hair easily and occasionally just need to be rinsed. I have found that for certain items, it helps to spritz the sponge with water to better attract the hair. The cost of one was less than a month’s worth of lint rollers. Now we save at least $120 a year.
I don’t have kids, but one way I can think of for parents to save money is disposable diapers. I talked to a friend with 2 kids who used cloth diapers. Here’s what she had to say:
“One jumbo diaper pack lasted us 2 weeks if we stretched it out. They cost $25 a pack, so it’s $50 a month or $600 a year. That’s only if we didn’t have any potty problems or stomach issues, which isn’t likely. So I would say 4 packs a month totaling $1200 a year. That doesn’t include wipes and creams, which we needed because of the artificial material on their skin. That brings the total to about $1500 a year!
I paid a price of $120 for 8 cloth diapers and reusable inserts from Bum Genius online. They also have natural wipes or you can use burping cloths or cloth wipes. We bought the 0-3 year size so we didn’t have to reorder as she grew. Elastic does wear but it’s super easy to replace and in 3 years I only did it once.
Overall the washing experience is not bad. Poo is easy to flush and once washed the proper way as directed on the website they came out clean, fresh, and completely sanitized. We never had any diaper rash or issues with sensitivity like she did with diapers. We saved $4375 by the time she was potty trained. If they are not out of diapers by 3 the savings goes up!”
Going paperless throughout the house can save you $582 per year! If you have kids, you can save even more!Click To Tweet
Some may be concerned that switching some of these items to paperless will create more laundry, using more water and soap, and perhaps not be as helpful for the environment or the wallet as we’d like to think. But I only have two more small loads of laundry per week than I did before switching, so the trade-off has definitely been worth it.
Our monthly savings by going paperless is about $48.50. That’s $582 a year. And since all those paper products go in the trash once you use them, you might as well take a $50 bill out of the bank and burn it. For us, that’s my cell phone bill, our Netflix subscription, and our Hulu subscription, or a little more than a tank of gas. Clearly the savings alone make going paperless worthwhile.
When you think about the environmental impact, the benefits are even bigger. It is estimated that each person uses about 30 rolls of toilet paper alone annually. So switching just one item to reusable keeps a significant amount of trash out of landfills. Consider, too, the impact on trees. It takes about 384 trees to make the toilet paper that one person will use in their lifetime. That’s a lot of trees being saved by going paperless!
Consider a couple of other ideas to save even more: rechargeable batteries, or using Tupperware instead of baggies for food storage.
Are there any other ways you have gone paperless? What effects did you notice? Let me know in the comments below!