Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #1

We are now two weeks into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were over 80 people signed up! Woohoo! Not bad if I do say so myself. But that, of course, begs the question – how are you doing with it? Are you finding it harder or easier than you thought? If you are having trouble with it, what is tripping you up? If you are breezing through it, do you have any tips to share?

I never did reveal what I decided to ditch for the challenge, so here it is. I’m done with disposable menstrual products. I’ve been working on making the switch to the Moon Cup for the past few months, but had been dragging my feet. This month however, with the exception of two disposable pads used as back-up at the beginning of my period, I did it! You may recall that I was having some trouble getting the hang of it initially and it took me a few months to fully adjust (I’ll write another post about what finally helped me find my happy place with it), but I’m now a Moon Cup lover! In addition to the Moon Cup, I also am using cloth panty liners on my heavier flow days as back-up because I’m not 100% confident using the cup alone yet (and am unsure if I’ll ever be).

In addition to ditching disposable pads and tampons, I’m also going to try to kick the Kleenex habit. I tend to go through a lot of Kleenex, and although I compost some of it, it’s still generating a lot more waste than is necessary (not to mention all of the trees used to make the Kleenex in the first place). I’ve asked my mom – who is much more skilled on a sewing machine than I – if she would make me a bunch of smallish cloth hankies and she agreed (thanks, Mom!), so once I get those I am going to cut back significantly on the Kleenex.

I had considered getting rid of toilet paper, at least for a week or two, but haven’t convinced myself to give it a try yet. Glad to see some others are though! 😉 My hat’s off to ya.

Anyway, I hope you will check in. Let me and everyone else know how you are doing. Don’t worry if you have regressed a bit or if you are still working on making the switch. I think just being aware that you are striving to make a change is important. Also, if you have questions about something particular, let me know. Maybe together we can come up with something that will work for you as we all try to reduce the amount of disposable products we consume.

We’ll have another check-in on Sept. 28. Keep up the good work and thanks for being a part of the challenge. 🙂

39 thoughts on “Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #1”

  1. I didn’t sign up in your initial post, but this finally gave me the push to start using cloth wipes for #2 (I’ve been using them for #1 for about 6 months now, and love it). It is fine, so far, but the hard part is getting my husband on board. He tried it but complained that the cloth felt really thick. I also have to set up a system for the 2nd bathroom. So I’m slowly working on it.

    I already do all the other suggestions except for the kleenex, so after I get the cloth wipe system totally down, I think I’ll work on that next 🙂

  2. I’m doing well with ditching the disposables at work. I’ve been taking cloth napkins and I love them so much better than the paper ones. I also bought a “wrap n mat” to wrap my sandwiches in, which I like but the liner inside is plastic, which I didn’t realize before I bought it. At least I’m reusing it instead of throwing out a ziplock every day.

    Now I just need to work on replacing my disposable plastic containers for salads and leftovers. I’m looking for an easy solution that is NOT plastic and can go in the dishwasher. Maybe glass or stainless steel containers. The proble with glass is that the tops are usually plastic. Any suggestions?

  3. Any tips for getting reluctant family members on board? I told my husband I wanted to switch to cloth napkins, which we already own and use for holiday dinners with guests. We finished the last of our dispoables, then used the cloth ones for about a week, until he decided he didn’t like the cloth and bought more of the paper ones. Sigh.

  4. I have not ditched the disposable diapers yet. Potty training is not going well. I’m going to hide the rest of the diapers so she has to wear panties during the day. I will be using the diapers at night though.

    As for the menstrual products, I will be using a Moon Cup and making my own pads. I made a couple yesterday and plan to make some more today. My sewing skills are lacking so my first pad is quite comical.

    This is an eye opening challenge and am glad to be a part of it.

  5. The cloth napkins are going well for us. In our traditional local for paper napkins, I put cloth, and we were off and running. We had a treat yesterday– bacon– and I did use paper towels to catch the grease, but it was an exception.

    I have been bringing my own cloth napkin for dining out, but every once in a while, I forget.

    I’m actually considering taking on more– we already cloth diaper, so how hard would it be to use a cloth wipe? I’ve even considered it for myself and hubby… well, at least myself, but I’m trying to figure out the logistics of that.

  6. My husband has been using a hankerchief for 6 years and people get all weird when they hear it. “What? He wipes his nose on it and then puts it back in his pocket? And you wash it WITH YOUR CLOTHES????” We never have tissues, I use cloth diapers to wipe the kids noses when they get sick. I’m all about staying out of the store!

  7. As far as getting family members on board with challenges, I think there’s only so much you can do. Ultimately, you are signing up to commit yourself to the challenge, not necessarily your whole house. If you can get your spouse/SO and/or kids to join in, great! If not, don’t beat yourself up over it. They’ll still see your participation and perhaps they’ll eventually decide to try it too… or not.

    BerryBird – In your case where your husband has gone out and bought napkins, perhaps you can ask him why he doesn’t want to use cloth. Maybe he feels like those napkins are too “fancy” and he doesn’t feel right using them to clean up a mess. You mentioned that you use those napkins for holidays and with guests, maybe you need some regular “daily” cloth napkins that are less “fancy.” Maybe he doesn’t want to create more laundry. Maybe if you reassure him that it’s OK to use them to clean up spills and to use with meals, and you (if you are the one doing the laundry) don’t mind the extra (cloth napkins really don’t generate more work anyway), that might help convince him. Or perhaps he’d be willing to compromise and use cloth napkins at meals you all have together, but use paper when he’s on his own.

    Ultimately, there’s only so much you can do to convince others to get on board w/ the challenge. 🙂

    Abbie – I personally use mostly plastic bowls and lids. I think you could try ceramic or stainless steel bowls, but, like you said, they will still likely have plastic lids. Anyone else have any suggestions???

    Keep up the good work and keep the questions coming. 🙂

    Crunchy Domestic Goddess

  8. I gave up paper towels and tissues, and I’m doing okay. However, I feel bad because I have to use paper towels at work, and I’ve had to use them a couple of times at my mom’s and just once or twice at home. I work in a hospital, and we can’t dry our hands on a regular towel for sanitation reasons. My mom is not into giving up paper towels so I used one at her house for a dirty job when she wouldn’t let me use anything else. Then there are the times I want to microwave something and just need to wrap it. I do try to reuse them if I do that. I still need to make my hankies too! I went baby sling crazy and haven’t been making much else lately! I have the fabric all ready though, so maybe tonight.

  9. This week, I forgot my reusable shopping bags and had to run back to the car to get them. You’d think I would remember since they are on the floor in front of Courtney’s seat! Anyway, it went really well and everything fit. It’s amazing how much they will stuff in a bag when you bring your own. They always seem to put like 2 things in a plastic bag and it bugged me. So far so good. This challenge has really made me much more aware of my disposable usage!

  10. My husband has used handkerchiefs ever since we started dating in college. We ditched disposable napkins for cloth this December. So…for this challenge we have dropped paper towels. Only exception: I keep a roll on hand hidden under the sink for cleaning cat barf, it’s the one thing I can’t drop yet and don’t want to add to the family wash. I’m thinking about having my uterus cauterized (ablation) to completely eliminate my periods and thus all disposables for many years to come but am still deciding.

  11. we’re doing well. i have started adding the cloth napkins to the waste-free lunches i’m sending with my kids to school…haven’t done much with the kleenex problem but i’ve decided to let the kids wipe their noses on their sleeves….okay, just kidding.

  12. I’m only 2-3 days into this challenge, myself. Things have been hectic around here so I haven’t gotten around to making hankies yet. Maybe later this week? Also my period came sooner than expected so I wasn’t prepared. I’d like to explore the moon cup but also, do you have a pattern for you homemade pads? What do you use to secure them in your undies?

  13. It’s been going really well over here- we ditched the disposable coffee cups and have been bringing our own travel mugs when we hit the local drive through espresso shop. It’s much easier to remember than I thought.

    While I picked that as my challenge, I’ve also been working on using less paper towels. I have some fancy cloth napkins that we’ve been using for everyday things that I would usually use paper for- like putting a couple pieces of toast on for breakfast. I have also been using dryer balls instead of fabric softener sheets and I LOVE them!

    Last year I took the “Handmade Pledge’ for the holidays and bought only handmade gifts for people. This year I want to do that again, but I’m thinking about making things like cloth napkins, etc. for family members.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  14. Good for you, Amy. You and all your challenge participants are making a difference. The tissue replacement handkerchiefs will be on their way to you in a day or two. Glad to be of assistance. You make me proud.

  15. Abbie — look at To Go Ware containers for work. We have those and love them.

    Katie — reusable cloth pads are attached on the bottom of your underwear using snaps. Look at Glad Rags for examples http://www.gladrags.com/

    Now I just need to find someone who makes and sells handkerchiefs since I don’t sew at all! 🙂

  16. Well, we went out and bought waterbottles of the Kleen Kanteen variety. Well, not actually Kleen Kanteens- whichever brand our local health food store has. We figured it’d be better for the environment if we just went to the local store than to order Kleen Kanteens online and get it shipped to us.

    We also set up a box for recycling- I know that’s not really ditching disposables, but in our area, we have to drive to the bins, so we didn’t recycle much before.

  17. Despite not getting the totes I bought to supplement the misc. totes I had, I used not a single plastic bag for groceries. My produce bags arrived today so I will be giving them a try this weekend. I think I should have bought a couple of smaller ones instead of all of these larger ones.

    I went to Lush on Friday (boy, I am loving this shampoo bar) and walked away with a paper bag and 4 little plastic bags. I did end up walking back to the store and giving back their paper bag and explaining how I was involved in this challenge. I couldn’t give back the little plastic bags because that was what the bars were in.

    I am definitely feeling the pain of others who can’t get their significant other to buy into going green. I bought one of the shampoo bars for him to try. No how… no way *sigh*

  18. Wow – okay, I thought ditching the paper towels would be an easy switch. Not really.

    First, I’m hesitant to use cloth towels for anything greasy or really nasty in the kitchen. I only have a few cloth towels so far, so I have one specifically designated for hands, one for dishes, and one for “other.”

    And yes, like many of you, I have a significant other who’s just not into the whole “going green.” He insists on using the paper towels, not recycling, and not composting. I have no qualms about diving into the trash can to pull out the things he drops in there!

    AND I just found out that my town has created an ordinance against composting! I fully intend to be a rebel and continue. Their concern is animals getting into it, but mine is in a rotating drum and has already withstood an interested bear, so I think it’s worth it. I also found it interesting that they mentioned you could BUY compost from the town instead of making your own. How nice.

  19. i’m about to order a diva cup 🙂 that’s my first big change! i’m very excited about it!

    aside from that, my biggest goal is to reduce our use of paper towels and napkins. i’m in the process of making some napkins from some flannel i had lying around, and that will go a long way towards my goal! also, based on the suggestion of a friend, i’m going to scout out fabric napkins in thrift stores.

  20. The Diva worked great! First month no leaks-wahoo! That was easy.

    The cloth diapers are also just about as easy. My husband even scraped poo off one w/o me asking. I never expected him to do that since I made the decision to switch.

    Maybe I will get brave and use a handkerchief. It is a hard switch for me to think about since I am right in the middle of allergy season and blowing my nose constantly. But that is probably why I need to switch…

  21. I didn’t sign up at the begining but count me in. I just bought some “family wipes” to sub for toilet paper from Wally Pop (mama run business) and she makes cloth menstral pads too.

  22. I made a little update on my blog about this 🙂

    Basically, I need more cloth handkerchiefs because I keep losing the two I own, but other than that the challenge is going well!

  23. HAven’t been in this challenge long enough to check in- except to say I lost my Favorite stainless stee; commuter mug on the strike line 🙁 a wide bottomed starbucks mug I have had for at least ten years~I miss it so much~

  24. I gave up tissues because I can’t give up real TP for the reusable stuff. I’m doing well with the tissue challenge though. I found a new box of men’s handkerchiefs that my husband got as a gift a long time ago and promptly stuck in a drawer until I dug one out to use as a pressing cloth. So, I’m using those handkerchiefs every morning on my ragweed ravaged nose. So far so good.

  25. i gave up paper towels, and so far, so good.

    one question for those less novice–do you set aside certain rags/cloths for “icky” tasks? i don’t want to dry my lettuce one day with something that cleaned something filty last week!

  26. Doing well ditching the disposable diapers. I need to order a few more, however, so in the interim I *did* buy a pack of disposables (and for those days the lil guy goes to day care at the Y) but they’re Seventh Generation, so at least they’re less harmful!

    We’re doing pretty well on lessening the amout of paper towels we use – I even have the hubby thinking of it! (And to answer Suzannah’s question, I do – I have some cheese-cloth type rags that I wash separately and store under the bathroom sink strictly for “ucky” tasks!)

  27. I’ve been using cloth wipes for tissues, as I haven’t gotten around to making any actual hankies. I had been using them sporadically as I don’t buy actual tissues but was in the habit of using toilet paper once in a while, which I have now stopped doing.

    As for the “family cloth wipes”, I’m in the process of sewing them up. I bought one metre (just over a yard) for me for #1 in a cute print and 2 metres in a camo print for #2. Once they’re finished I’ll start using the #1 cloths and see how that goes before introducing the #2 cloths. My husband says he’s in for a try, so we’ll see.

    Paper towel is harder to give up than I thought. I’ve used it a couple times, but it’s more for those messes that I really don’t want to use a cloth for. I don’t have any utility cloths done up. Maybe I’ll throw that on my project pile.

  28. Going well, here! I don’t miss my swiffer at all though I do still find myself missing the convenience of paper towels. I will not miss the price though! With toddler twins we were going thru a roll ever 2 or 2 days! I’ve also switched to cloth diapers and it seems to be going well so far. My mom sewed me about 25 all-in-one diapers and I’m using bio-degradable rice paper inserts to make it even easier!

  29. Going well, here! I don’t miss my swiffer at all though I do still find myself missing the convenience of paper towels. I will not miss the price though! With toddler twins we were going thru a roll ever 2 or 3 days! I’ve also switched to cloth diapers and it seems to be going well so far. My mom sewed me about 25 all-in-one diapers and I’m using bio-degradable rice paper inserts to make it even easier!

  30. I’m doing well with ditching the ziplock baggies. I made up some little snack bags for my son in a cute John Deere print fabric. For food items (lettuce, half used onion, etc.) I still have a huge urge to grab a plastic baggie, but manage to find another solution by asking “What would I do if I was out of baggies – what would I use instead?” So far I seem to gravitate to the tupperware containers, which I plan to ditch eventually as well but…baby steps I guess!

  31. still looking for the “zip-lockish” bags w/o luck even on etsy! Working on the paper towels, but around the base of the toilet…i just want to throw away anything that goes there. (i’m a momma of young boys.) Doing okay overall..

  32. So far, so good … I initially planned to replace just my purse pack tissues with handkerchiefs, but I’ve stashed a few around the house, too, and I’m using them instead of regular tissues at home. There’s a lot of packaging in those bitsy packs, and there doesn’t seem to be a paper-from-paper alternative.

    It’s the kind of habit that’s so easy to change, it’s amazing it never occurred to me before this challenge, so thank you for sparking the idea.

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