Things are expensive, and let’s face it, one cannot go into Target or any other “all in one” store without picking up at least one thing that wasn’t supposed to make its way into your cart!
Really, isn’t that true of us all? It seems very rarely, I am able to leave a store like that with only the things I need and that are on my list. The cute little kitchen clearance dishes catch my eye. Or the $1 bin right in front of the store. The purses. You name it, companies have done a fantastic job of bombarding us.
It wasn’t until recently, probably after visiting a friend’s home, that I realized how much money I have likely saved my family in the way of going paper free. Let’s talk about how you can save money in the kitchen by eliminating paper and going with cloth!
Cloth in the Kitchen (and Dining Room)
Ditch the Paper Towels This could quite possibly be the hardest switch for some of you. You probably can’t even conceive of life without paper towels, right? Trust me, you won’t even miss them after a time. I bought these huck towels over a year ago, and have been using them to clean up spills. I love the idea of getting different colors for different things. Orange for spills, green for general cleaning, blue for floors, etc. I used permanent marker to label my orange ones, “kitchen spills”, “bathroom”, “Jameson” (even the dog gets a huck towel!).
Cloth Napkins We used cloth napkins at our wedding; they didn’t match, and a lot of them were vintage. I loved them. We use them in our home now. No, we didn’t keep all 150 to ourselves, we shared. Homemade cloth napkins would be incredibly easy to do as well, and with all the super cute fabric choices out there, I could see how you easily become hooked. What a beautiful and thoughtful gift to give someone as well (Christmas will be here before you know it!).
Use Real Dishes Oh, the convenience of disposable dishes! I get it, you don’t want to spend the evening washing 20 plates, 30 forks, 25 glasses, and 3 baking dishes. Do you have a dishwasher? Then load that thing up! Trust me on this one, we just moved to a house without a dishwasher and I hate using disposable kitchen stuff. Once, only once have I bought plastic cups, and guess what! I ended up washing them and reusing them anyway. Y’all for the sake of the planet and your wallet, use real dishes! Dishes don’t even take long to wash up anyway. We host 12 people in our home every Thursday night, and someone is assigned to bring a yummy food to share. So, every Friday morning I spend about 15 minutes washing, drying, and putting away any number of: plates, forks, spoons, glasses, etc. Yes, 15 minutes! Just do it.
Clean with Rags Paper towels and those handy-dandy wet wipes are easy.. and expensive! Save your money and clean with rags. What kind of rags? Well, you could buy the huck towels I shared above, or you could, ahem, make your own. Old socks, t-shirts, underwear. Yes, I’ve been known to cut up my husband’s “unders” and use those to clean. I’m that cheap. Old towels work great, too!
These Bounty paper towels are $28 for 15 rolls. Only you could know how long it would take you to go through 15 rolls, but seriously, $28 for paper. No thanks, can’t do it. Vanity Fair sells 400 napkins for $12. I’m going to guess these won’t last long. Nobody ever takes just one, and even if it wasn’t used it still gets thrown away! Dixie paper plates run you $32 for 200. Those 200 plates won’t last long in a house with kids or a house that hosts even small dinner parties. Solo cups are going to cost you another $9 for 240, not a bad price, but that’s $9 you could spend on some really fancy cheese instead! For plastic forks, you could spend $17 for 300.
For cleaning purposes, Clorox wipes are often used for convenience, but they are pricey, $15 for a value pack.
Even if you only bought one of each of these items a year, which let’s be honest, you’ll go through more than 15 rolls of paper towels and 200 paper plates, you’re spending over $100 on trash. All of these things are non-recyclable and end up in our landfills. Not only are you wasting your money, you’re contributing to millions of pounds of waste from paper every year.
For $100 you can buy some high quality cloth napkins and a lifetime’s worth of rags. Investing in a second set of dishes costs a bit more, but check out your local thrift shop. I have two sets of plates, one is Fiestaware that I got at 1/3 of the price because they were “factory seconds” meaning they had a small defect so they couldn’t be sold in stores, and the second set of plates came from an antique store, they are beautiful yellow with white flowers and cost me about $30. There is something to be said of a woman who serves her guests on real china, the party feels much more thought out and personal.