1. Cloth hankies
This one was easy, free, and took about 5 minutes. Psychologically, this was also an easy change. At first, I thought that I would sew some cute handkerchiefs out of an old sheet. After about 2 months of having this plan in my head, I realized it was holding me up from getting it done. So, I simply took my husband's soft old T-shirt, cut it into strips, and set the stack of them on my bedside table. Since then, I have not used a Kleenex! I admit that this method would not work during cold season - I go through about 20 Kleenexes per hour (not exaggerating!). But the rest of the year, it works great.
Also free! But psychologically, not as easy. The first time I read about using cloth t.p, I thought, "Freaky nutcases!". After awhile, I started to think, "Why not?", and I couldn't come up with a good answer.
I use folded baby washcloths (the soft side, not the terry cloth side) to wipe after #1 only, then I drop them in a dry basket by the side of the toilet. I wash the cloths every few days in the washing machine with the rest of my whites, using my regular detergent. Since urine is sterile, I'm comfortable with this method. I haven't noticed any smell yet (in the last 2 months), and actually the P-cloths are quite soft and comfy! I get a lot of satisfaction in decreasing the destruction of trees and stopping wasteful plastic use (the wrapping of the t.p. packages). Somewhere, a tree is thanking me. Avoiding the expense is nice too.
Now that I've done it for awhile, I can't see why I thought it would be gross or difficult. I actually would not want to give it up. It does take an extra 5 minutes of my time every three days, but I think this is balanced by the need to only buy regular t.p. maybe twice a year. And this way, the toilet paper we have stored for TEOTWAWKI ;) should go much, much further... maybe years instead of just a few months.
3. Monthly feminine needs
Another chance to decrease my use of cotton (did you know cotton is the #3 crop user of pesticides?), avoid destruction of forests, and cut toxins in my body and the environment! I bought a Diva cup and some Luna Pads for backup. Diva does a good job of making these things fun and attractive, and they've been working pretty well in combination, even overnight. Problem of how to take care of this need if TSHTF: Solved.
4. Klean Kanteen
Ooooh! These are so pretty, I will actually show them off! Klean Kanteens replace plastic water bottles. They are made of stainless steel, with no plastic liner. Using a Klean Kanteen reduces the amount of plastic going into the waste stream, decreases the use of fossil fuels to make the plastic water bottles, stops wasteful shipping of water all over the world (insanity!!!), and decreases the amount of the chemical BPA going into your body.
I haven't been using bottled water in a long time, but I have been refilling an old plastic water bottle over and over again, and my hubby has been using a Lexan bottle that he hates. So I thought I'd pony up the dough for these beauties and make a statement. I bought two 27-oz Kanteens and a Sippy Cup for the small guy. I've only had them a day, so I can't blog on their long-term use, but so far I love them! One caveat: they dent if you drop them on something hard.
5. Cloth bags
The scourge of plastic bags drives me nuts! We've been using cloth grocery bags for eight years now. We figured out that it takes 4 cloth bags (2 large, 2 small) to replace about 10-15 bags per grocery store trip. That comes out to 8 x 52 x 15 = 6240 bags in the last 8 years! We got our grocery bags as "Thank You" gifts from Environmental Defense, but you can find them cheap-o at thrift stores, and many places are starting to sell them at reasonable prices.
However, I was still getting plastic bags from non-grocery stores, so I just recently got a giant bag from Bed Bath and Beyond for big bulky purchases ($2), and also a small bag from my library ($2) for books. I can keep these tucked in my glove compartment for any spontaneous shopping. Next step: I'm thinking of giving cloth bags as a Christmas gift to my clients this year.
How about you? What are you doing or planning to do?