Frugality 101: Reusables v. Disposables

Hello Readers!  I know that we moms often look for ways to save money, especially with growing kids.  But sometimes it can be a challenge to cut costs.  Or we cut as much as possible only to end up slashing to our breaking points.  Or we may not know how else to cut our costs any further.  Today, I want to discuss how I manage to keep costs down with reusable products.

So, I just celebrated my son’s first birthday with a party, complete with paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable products.  And the cost of those items was atrocious!  For 48 people, it cost us nearly $1.50 per person for every tool they needed at the party, and we even went to the dollar store for items.  Multiplying that by 48, you can see that it cost us over $50.  For a one-time event, that price is high but understandable.  Now imagine paying that price every couple of weeks.  Think about it.  An average family of four eats an average of four meals at home per week.  That equals sixteen plates a week.  In three week’s time, the average family will eat twelve meals at home.  And if that family eats on paper plates, they will use 48 plates in that amount of time.  Thus, the average family can wind up spending $50 every month for disposable products.  That equals $600 a year!  Can you think of what you would rather spend $600 on besides paper plates?  I can.

The reason why paper plates and disposable dining products is on my mind is because I don’t allow them in my house.  Ever.  In fact, I haven’t had any paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, or other products in my house in over five years.  No joke.  Every meal in my house is eaten on real plates.  With real silverware.  With real cups and mugs.  We even tend to use cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

Yes, that’s right.  I use cloth napkins in my house, and even with a baby in the house.  See, a couple of years ago, in a post-Christmas sale, I scored some great deals on some table linens.  I ended up with some cream-colored and sage-colored napkins, as well as my cloth tablecloths and super-soft sheets, and the napkins were about 50% off!  So, they ended up costing me $5 for two sets of four napkins (8 napkins total).  And I haven’t looked back.

I know a few of you are probably rolling your eyes, imagining the stains your kids may get on said napkins and the headaches you may get trying to clean said stains out of those napkins.  But there is a secret: bleach and stain treatment.  And white restaurant-quality napkins.  As a bonus, these restaurant-quality napkins tend to be reasonable in price.  The last time I looked, they were about $5 for eight napkins.  Compare that to $100 per year.  I don’t know about all of you but I would take the $5 to $100.  And, because of the low price, I don’t feel as bad having to throw away the napkins, although the stained ones can be used as dusting cloths in your home.

Aside from these products, I also wanted bring up other reusable products around the house.  As I mentioned just above, using stained napkins for dusting is much more cost effective than disposable dusting cloths.  I also use old t-shirts to dust my house.  When my husband’s t-shirts begin to rip and tear, I tend to raid them for dusting purposes.  This can save me about $8 a week in dusting cloths, especially since I live in a dusty region.

We also reuse our grocery bags in our home.  We have a stack of cloth grocery bags for our weekly trips.  Every now and again we will end up with a bag or two coming home with us from the store.  I tend to reuse them for different reasons too.  We use the small grocery bags for our bathroom trash cans rather than buying bags.  I also save some of those bags from crafting projects.  I love getting unique bags from different stores and using them for scrapbooking pieces and decor.

Now, we also use reusable travel cups and mugs.  We have a couple of really nice travel mugs that we purchased on gift cards over the years, and we use them for coffee from home rather than buying expensive drinks in disposable cups.  And we don’t purchase bottle water either.  We actually use our own water bottles that we love.  As for filtered water, the tap water in our region is actually quite good compared to other areas.  So, we drink tap water.

So, these are just a few ways that we save money on reusables in our house.  What about some of your ways?  I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

-BBM

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