Looking for Ideas

I’m trying to replace supplies (altered or destroyed by their use) with equipment (used and reused) as much as possible. And, I’m trying to limit the amount of things I purchase.

The only example I can think of is one we’re considering: silicon mats to replace parchment.

Or, if I can’t replace supplies with equipment. How about changes you’ve made to the supplies you’ve bought so you can buy fewer products?

The biggest one I know of is buying soaps without water added, whenever possible. So, instead of buying another bottle of laundry detergent, I bought a box of laundry soap last time. Haven’t used up the liquid detergent yet, but intend to only use soap after that, even if I have to mix it with water myself.

I have bar shampoo to use when the liquid stuff we’re using runs out too. The soap thing is so we can 1) to stop paying insane $ for water and 2) to keep things which are less fussy about how they’re stored; and 3) the dry soaps usually don’t require plastic packaging.

Years ago: we switched to unscented deodorant, so we share the stick instead of needing to buy 2.


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Some very simple things I do:

Idea originally from @Elle: I soak citrus peels in vinegar for a couple of days, then throw out the peels, put the vinegar in a spray bottle and dilute it 50:50 with water. I use this as all purpose cleaner and it works great for most things. If it doesn’t work for something I sprinkle baking soda on that thing, spray it, leave it for a while, and wipe it clean later. Practically free and very good for the planet.

I have laundry strips. No liquid or powder, these https://www.tru.earth/ which are basically sheets of dehydrated laundry detergent. They dissolve beautifully and do a great job, with no plastic or waste in sight. I’ve seen them under different brand names in different countries. I’ve been using them for over a year and will never switch back.

I also have a bottle of homemade windex. I got the recipe from the internet.


I clean windows with a lot of water, a little ammonia and some dish soap in a spray bottle. (Or I put the ammonia and soap on a rag and squirt water on the window, then rub.) Then more water, then remove it. Done! Way different than the squirt, rub, rinse, take off, and polish I was taught had to happen as a kid.


The vinegar idea is a new one.

Rags and a washing machine in place of paper towels for any cleaning applications.

I’d like to say I have cloth napkins for “nice” applications when we have company, but I don’t. Generally, when we have company, it’s a bonfire, so we use actual paper plates and napkins and throw them in the fire.


I do use paper towels at home (mostly for pet messes, because gross), but I only use cloth napkins and they are great! I feel like people maybe think I am being fancy or something when I break them out, but I’m really not. :joy: I have a few sets of 4 that I made and I break out when I have people over, but the rest are mostly singletons that I made from leftover pieces of cotton from sewing projects. They are a great way to practice sewing mitered corners as well, haha. I don’t wash them after one use, but rather usually use the same one all day, since they often don’t even really get dirty at all. For meals that are particularly messy (red sauce, brown sauce, oily) I have darker colored ones that I will use. Even so, I don’t think any of them have even become stained over the years, at least that is noticeable. The oldest are probably 10 years old, and they don’t look worse for wear (I am single though, so they get rotated through regularly). I wash them when I do my other towels/dishtowels/hand towels (hot water wash).


We solve the problem of not having cloth napkins by not using anything when it’s just us here at home. Just wash hands after eating.


I think… maybe I eat a lot of finger food, sandwiches and such, and get stuff on my fingers a lot, and it’s uncomfortable to just leave it there until I finish eating? IDK. Also on my mouth. I guess I am a messy eater, lol. If I’m sitting on the couch I tend to also put one on my lap in case something falls down. Caveman dining over here…


I recently (like last year) changed the way I do dishes - I used to use regular sponges (with one side scrubby) and used a fair amount of Bar Keepers Friend on my stainless pots and pans when they got too discolored. But the sponges get so gross so quickly and running them in the dishwasher only does so much. I changed to using a copper (metal) scrubbie for stainless, a nylon scrubbie for other stuff, and Swedish dish cloths for delicate things and wiping the counters as they are super absorbent. Everything is still technically disposable, but they last at least an order of magnitude longer. The dish cloths can be washed in the laundry (eventually they break down I guess, but they haven’t for me yet), and the nylon scrubbie is the type that can be easily run through the dish washer, with larger holes that can get clean more easily. Eventually I may switch to just using rags for the dishes instead of the Swedish dish cloths, but they are holding up really well after a year of rotating through three of them (I got a package of like 10) and I like the little bit of extra texture they have. I do occasionally still use Bar Keepers Friend, but it’s really rare now. This is a less “wasteful” system than the sponges I used to us, and definitely cheaper.

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This is a good reminder for me that I keep meaning to switch to cloth napkins. Habits take a long time. Right now I’m probably using cloth napkins like 20% of the time?

Also +1 for homemade vinegar cleaning spray.

Okay, some more ideas.

  • Definitely not for everyone, but we switched to a bidet + butt towels instead of toilet paper. Cuts down on our paper purchases by a lot. (Motivated by it feeling nicer but the environmental impact is a nice bonus.)
  • Shoe care. Back when I lived in the city I was actually wearing out my shoes 1-2x per year. Getting two pairs to rotate through, actually drying them out between wears, conditioning them, etc helped.

The subreddit r/BuyItForLife is also all about durable purchases, might be of interest to you.


I considered “family cloth.” It hits DH’s “eww” factor, so no. If we had no $? Well, he might be persuaded.

We’ve always used cloth napkins. A few years back, I got rid of all of my sponges but one plastic scrubby one under the soap at the bathroom sink. I use it to clean the sink/counter and scrub the floor of the tub with the soapy sludge from the old soap bars. (We have lead munge in our water).

A squeegee in the tub/shower helps a lot, also gets used on the mirror over the sink. A piece of chamois works to polish the metal fixtures.

I didn’t know about the reddit. But I did know about the company buymeonce.com.


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I use linen damask, pretty fancy 'eh? Partly because I’d gone through all the others and partly because I’d inherited a bunch of my mothers and was out. Once I started using them, I never gave it up. I find them in lots at the antique shop or in singles at thrift shops and they last…

When they get stained, they get a slash put on them and become rags. When they’re badly stained, the / becomes X and they become “disposable.” That is, if DH uses them for an oil change and tosses them afterwards I won’t scream.

Assorted bits of cloth here mostly become rags rather than napkins, as I don’t sew.

I should, I know – and BRAVO to you for doing so!


Linen is fabulous!

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When it was first spring, it occurred to me that putting on a sweater rather than turning up the heater was another one of these ideas. I found one kind of Merrill slip on shoes I like, with ice walking soles. I use them year round, except in the hottest part of summer.

We use cloth placemats and occasionally table cloths. Paper placemats were a thing when I was a kid. We are using more bulk from a local store. I’m proud of myself, I thought to keep the tags and save them, these days I’m reusing some of them. We have a bin of cloth grocery bags, which is also the same thing.

Thank you to everyone who commented. If you can think of other such substitutes, I’m interested!