Going Green Made Easy!

3:53 PM

Let's face it, it's not always easy being green!  We do our best to recycle.  Sometimes we're successful.  Other time, not so much.

I want to keep the planet safe and clean so I do what I can in my own way.

Here are a few items that I've found to make it a little easier to reduce/reuse/recycle.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I've tried all of these items.  Some of them I use.  Some I don't.  I'll let you know which items fall into which categories.

Un-Paper Towels:

Un-paper towels are basically reusable towels that you'd use in place of paper towels.  They're great for cleaning up spills and messes.  They fit on a regular paper towel roll and they snap together like conventional paper towels.  You can buy them in all color and textures.

This is one example of what they look like.

UnPaper Towels

You can make these yourself or buy them at etsy.  Expect a set of towels to last 3-5 years with regular use.

Expect to pay $25-$35 for a set of 6.

I have used these in the past but I'm not using them now.

Cloth Napkins

We are a family of 5.  As a result we go through an obscene amount of paper products.  Including, but CERTAINLY not limited to paper napkins at meal times.  About 5 or 6 years ago I switched to cloth napkins.  Not only does it give my rag tag bunch a classy feel at dinner time but it saves on paper products and gives the younger kids an easily, do-able chore.  Each week they fight over who gets the "fold napkins" chore.  It's an easy way to earn 25 cents!

cloth napkin basket
Here are a few tips for buying cloth napkins.  Don't expect them to all match!  Buy them in lots if you can.  [The curtain store near my house sells them for 2/$1 in the close out section.]  Expect to pay about $1/each.  Buy 100% cotton if you can.  Linen is nice but not really so absorbent.  For a family of 5 we have about 60 napkins.  That's enough to last us a week and a half to 2 weeks between washings. 

You can make these yourself or buy them on ebay.  In ebay use the search term "cloth napkin lot".  Expect a set of cloth napkins to last 4-5 years depending on how big a stash you have.  The bigger the stash the longer they all last.     

Sandwich Wraps & Snack Bags

I used to be the Ziploc Queen.  I still use too many Ziploc bags but these two discoveries allows me to use them less.

First, Sandwich wraps.  The idea behind a sandwich wrap is that you can wrap your sandwich  keeping it safe and dry until meal time.  Then unfold the wrap and use it as a place mat.  These little diddies come in every shape, size, pattern and color you can imagine.  They are available for big submarine sandwiches and regular pb&j size sandwiches.

Superman Sandwich Wrap

Dot sandwich wrap
There is a tiny learning curve when it comes to learning how to fold these wraps.  My 6 year old got it on the 2nd try, so it's not that hard.  There are 3 closures available.  You can get a button closure, velcro closure or a snap closure.

I will confess that I have used all 3 varieties and I am STRONGLY biased towards the snap closure.  I also make and sell snap closure sandwich wraps in my etsy shop

You can make sandwich wraps yourself or buy them on etsy.  Prices of this product vary WIDELY!  I've seen them for as little as $1.95 and as much as $12.99 each.  Expect to pay approx $5/each for a basic wrap.

Now, Snack Bags.  So the idea behind snack bags is that instead of grabbing yet another plastic sandwich bag that you'll use and toss, you can get the same thing from cloth. 

These bags are good for snacks, diaper bag items, toys and just about anything else you can think of.  They are available in leak proof and leak resistant versions. 

They have fold over tops, velcro tops, zipper tops and button tops.  Some have wide (gusseted) bottoms.  Others are flat. 

flat bottom snack sack
wide bottom snack sack

Another view of a wide bottom snack sack
Again, you can make these yourself or buy them online at etsy.

Expect these to cost between $3 - $12 each depending on size and features.  Also make sure you understand what you are buying.  If you want a snack sack that is leak PROOF (meaning you will be putting very wet items inside, look for a bag that is lined with PUL.  If you need a bag that is leak RESISTANT (meaning you will put moist items - like grapes or orange slices inside) look for bags that are lined with rip stop nylon.  If wet items are not an issue then look for cotton lined bags.

I sell these bags in my etsy shop both in leak proof and leak resistant versions.  You can find me online at Kathy's Woods.

Expect these bags to last a long time.  I have never had one wear out.  The kids usually lose them LONG before they wear out!


One thing to keep in mind with all of these products is that you'll need to find a place in your kitchen to store them.  Cloth napkins can go in a basket in the dining room or dining area.  Unpaper towels will live on a roll on in a basket in the kitchen.  Sandwich wraps and bags will likely need a drawer. 

Historically my sandwich wraps were all crammed into a junk drawer.

Sandwich wraps crammed into a drawer.
In a continuing effort to keep things neat and clean I started making wraps that rolled down and  snapped closed for neat storage. 

Rolled Snap Sandwich Wraps and Bags
 I'm not going to act like these last 2 pictures were not a plug for my etsy shop.  They TOTALLY are!  I am one of a hand full of sellers that make and sell Snap sandwich wraps on etsy.  Please visit my shop if you feel moved to do so!  It's Kathy's Woods.  Whether you visit my shop or not, please check out etsy.com.  There are loads of awesome handmade and vintage items there!

Kitchen Wet Bags

In you haven't figured it out already, these cloth items means you'll have a bit more laundry.  Depending on the size of your family, you'll have approximately 1 extra load a week.  Un-paper towels, cloth napkins, sandwich wraps and bag can all be washed together.  You could even toss these items in the wash with a load of towels.  (Shake the crumbs out first)

Before laundry day, you'll need to neatly store soiled linens.  For this, you'll need a kitchen wet bag.  A kitchen wet bag is basically a little laundry bag for kitchen cloth.

Kitchen Wet Bag
Kitchen wet bags are easy to make and plentiful to buy.  I've only ever seen them on craft sites like Hyena Cart and Etsy.  I have 2 that I made from left over scrap fabric.  Here is a tutorial on how to make a leak proof bag.  Personally I don't use leak proof bags for kitchen cloth so my wet bag is made of 100% cotton. 

Expect to pay between $13-$20 for a wet bag.  Expect it to last 10 years.

There are more hardcore ways to go green [cloth diapers, mama cloth, family cloth, etc].  Those items will be covered in another post coming soon.

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