Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Budget Living and Pinching Pennies

There is an article in this week's Time magazine about 'The New Frugality' and ways that people are saving money by not spending money. It is time that we over-consumers cut way back on the never ending spending spree, but at the same time the economy as it is today won't recover until we start spending again. Think about it. You stop buying that Starbucks coffee each morning, saving $4.00 in the process, but when hundreds of thousands of people stop buying that coffee, Starbucks sees a drop in sales, thereby cutting staff and not buying as much coffee, napkins, coffee cups, etc, thereby causing the producers of coffee, napkins, coffee cups, etc. to have to cut staff and slow production. Around and around it goes in a vicious circle.

I know I didn't buy my usual Starbucks treat while grocery shopping last weekend.

We were at Target on Saturday morning, getting our weekly staples of toilet paper, cat litter, and cat food. We got to talking about toilet paper (yes, we do have some fascinating conversations, don't we?) and about how much toilet paper we, I mean *I* use each day. I do pee a lot and use about a foot of toilet paper each time. Boys don't use much toilet paper since they can just shake it off, but we girls have a hard time doing the old drip dry thing. So, Keith suggested using cloth wipes and washing them over and over again. Hmmm...nothing wrong with that and that would save a lot of endangered toilet paper, also saving a lot of flushing because you can wait a long time to flush if there's no toilet paper clogging things up. So, we got the mega pack of cheap washcloths ($4.00 for 18 cloths at walmart) and put a little trash can by the toilet to drop them in and so far I've saved at least one roll of TP. And not flushed the toilet as much. But, then of course I still have to use water to wash the cloths. But maybe not as much water as continually flushing since I can just throw them in with the regular wash.

Does this idea gross people out? I don't really see much difference between this and using cloth diapers, something that I'm glad to see is coming back among young mothers these days. Sellers on etsy offer all kinds of handmade diapers and diaper covers in cute fabrics, so no need for those horrible diaper rash inducing plastic pants that my kids had to suffer with. I just plain old couldn't afford disposable diapers so cloth it was for us. Velcro hadn't quite been invented yet, so I used those big ducky diaper pins that I don't think they even make anymore. You had to be careful with those things, many fingers and babies have been stabbed with those.

Another thing that is becoming popular among the young and green are reusable cloth menstrual pads, cloth being what our grandmothers had to use before they invented kotex. A pain to have to toss cloth pads in a bucket and wash each month? Maybe, but think of the money and trees you'd be saving not using all those pads each month. I'm just glad I'm post menopause and don't have to mess with all that (mess, get it?) every month anymore. If you're interested, hop on over to etsy and you'll be surprised at how many of these they have for sale. Cute fabrics, too.

So, anyway, the cheap cloth washcloths are a little rough but seem to work just fine, and if I were more ambitious I might think about buying some soft fabric and sewing some up, but maybe I'll just go on etsy and see if they sell reusable wipes there yet.

But, if we all stop buying toilet paper we're going to put Charmin right out of business. See what I mean about a vicious circle?


EtsyWTF said...

I've had to do that before when I ran out of TP and couldn't get to the store. Frankly, I think the wash cloth cleans your butt better anyway.

Just a word of advice though: keep some rolls of TP around for when you have company. ;o)

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

There is something even better than reusable cloth menstrual pads - anyone that still has to deal with that monthly mess should check out menstrual cups, such as The Diva Cup or The Keeper. Amazing! Pays for itself in less than 5 months or so, easy, no trash, awesome. Perfect for living in a 3rd world country as I am doing right now. I wish someone would have told me about this product 30 years ago when I started using tampons... What a pile of money I spent and a pile of trash I left behind. No - NADA!!!

PS We pinch pesos here by sewing up anything that needs it, using a cloth rag to wipe counters instead of paper towels etc.

Good for you to do this Lizbeth! Hugs :)

Jennifer said...

I think I will stick with buying toliet paper and girl products. Jeremy always wondered why I go through a lot of toliet paper, now I can tell him that I get it from my mom!!

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

I tell you Jen - check out The Diva Cup - no leaks, no surprises, no more ruined underwear, can wear it for up to 12 hours! No trash, and was less than $35 - you pay $35 for "girl products" in just a few months. And doesn't feel like it's going to fall out the way a tampon does - you forget you are wearing it! I would NEVER EVER EVER go back to tampons!!! Laina uses one too.

Jeff9 said...

Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Get serious and add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off” Available at www.bathroomsprayers.com with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! Don’t worry, you can still leave some out for guests and can even make it the soft stuff without felling guilty. It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but please remember that in the big picture the industrial water users always far exceed the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.