Save Money on Consumables

I like to use as little of these items that I can, both to save money at the grocery store and to live more green.

  • Use cloth napkins. I got mine at thrift shops. They usually are like a quarter a piece. (Hint: buy some red ones for when you are serving dishes with tomato sauce). Once one of my senior family members found out I use cloth ones, they gave me their old ones that they don't use anymore.
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  • Use washcloths for cleaning the house. I bought one of those big cheap packs of washcloths at my local discount store. A dozen for a few dollars. So nice not to be wasting paper towels. I had to train myself to grab a cleaning washcloth instead of a paper towel to mop up a spill.

Warning! The men may want to skip the next two tips. (these are for the ladies)

  • Use 100% cotton reusable washable sanitary napkins. They are a little pricey to buy at first but save tons of money in the end. And so comfortable. There are lots of different styles to choose from if you do a internet search. There are also several websites on making your own. I made some extra pads out of a old flannel sheet. I saw on the internet that you can also use old flannel shirts. My grandmother thinks I'm crazy because she HAD to use those (rags) growing up but I have another reason for using them. I'm also allergic to the store bought disposable ones.
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  • The second tip for women are the resusable menstrual cups. No more tampons needed. You only need to purchase one so it pays for itself in no time.

Okay men, you can come back now!

  • Don't forget about Hankies! If you are turned off by that idea ,at least switch from tissues to toliet paper. Much cheaper.
  • And speaking of Toliet Paper, it's a must have! :) I refuse to use a catalog or phone book! Personal preference! But I do feel the store brand works the best, great value and doesn't stop up the toliet. Just my opinion.
  • Don't use paper plates or cups. We have plastic ones that I got at thrift shops that I use for cook outs and in our camper. Washing them instead of throwing away paper products is just as easy. Especially since I'm married to a great dishwasher (my hubby) who never complains!
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  • Any kind of package that comes in the mail, I try to save and reuse the box, packing materials, envelopes, etc. It feels really good to send a package to someone and not have to spend a dime on those items and be recycling at the same time.
  • Use plastic sandwich holders and plastic containers that you can get at the grocery store (thrift shops) instead of sandwich bags for lunches. You can get some reusable plastic ware from take out or other food products that you purchase at the grocery store. Butter containers, etc. You are not just purchasing the food product but you also are buying the container that it came in! Same for lunch bags. Lunch boxes are great! Especially since most are made of fabric these days and insulated. I keep plastic cutlery and just wash them and reuse them. We also have water bottles that we just refill everyday from our own fridge.
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  • Use plasticware for leftovers. Save the plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
  • You can wash plastic food storage bags, as long as they didn't have meat in them. Get a couple uses out of them. I do this if they were holding a snack or bread. Those types of non yucky things. Again, plasticware is better!
  • My grocery store uses plastic bags for packing up your groceries. We save the ones that didn't have meat or dairy in them. We use them in our bathroom trash cans. To pick up anything that our dog may have left behind on a walk. I cut several up into strips and knotted them together. Then crocheted them into a really awesome market bag! It's strong and washable! My husband thought I had lost my mind the day he came home from work and I had a pile of plastic bag strips covering me on the couch. But the project turned out really cute and useful! There are websites that have patterns for crocheting and knitting plastic grocery bags into lunchbags, totes, market bags and sooooo much more! Google it! And let your friends know that you need plastic bags. If they are going to get them anyway at least you can keep them out of the landfill and make something useful out of them. Heck, crochet up a market bag and give it back to them as a gift! Then they don't need to get plastic bags anymore!
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  • Printer paper. Use both sides! Usually when you print something out you get a last sheet with only one line on it and it's advertising or something you don't need. Put it back into your printer to use the other side. Unless you need to print something important! Then it wouldn't look very professional with random things printed on the back.

Hope that you were able to find something useful in my list of tips. I work at trying to think twice before putting something into the trash can. It's nice that we now have the phrase "Going Green" for some things that has been around forever. Being frugal, making the most of our resources, keeping trash to a minimum and saving the Earth for future generations!

By hpeter from Centreville, MD

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February 20, 20080 found this helpful

I do all the things on your list and more. As a kid, I remember my grandmother and her friends making rugs out of old bread bags, and thought it was strange. Well, I have this huge, jumbo crochet hook, so I cut thick loops out of bags and make thick rugs to use out our back door. They're soft and cushiony, they wear like iron, I get less dirt tracked into the house, and they're free. I also make rag rugs out of old clothing and have given many away as requested gifts. Forget buying cleaning cloths, I use old cotton clothing (rags) in different sizes for small-large messes.


I cut an old towel into squares for homemade dryer sheets; others are premoistened in a container for cleaning cloths. I save glass bottles and jars for leftovers and to store and organize things. The list goes on and on. Once you start, it's kind of hard to not do this stuff. I'm so glad that others are as vigilent as me to save both money and our earth, and to live simply.

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Better Living Green Living AdviceFebruary 19, 2008
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