Happy Earth day 2020 everyone! Our call to action this year is to encourage you to leave a smaller footprint by replacing (at least) one single-use product in your home with a cloth alternative.
It is absurd that we have reached a point in our history where felling a tree, milling it, turning it into paper, loading it on pallets, shipping it to stores, bringing it home with you and finally, wiping up a spill before promptly discarding it (with all the energy required for waste management on top), is considered less effort than simply grabbing cloth of some description, wiping up a spill, and throwing the cloth in with the rest of the laundry.
Not only does this kind of consumption use up a whole lot of resources, it also makes us less resilient, because we are dependent on a steady external supply. Most people don’t have a paper mill in their neighborhood, so this is one where it is difficult to source locally.
You may have noticed that we have done a lot of DIY cloth posts over the last few weeks, and that is no coincidence! We want to help you make this goal, so we do our best to show you how easy it can be.
Replace plastic bags with repurposed shopping bags
In this post by Kathleen over on Cooking up FIRE, she shared with us a simple, yet ingenious way to turn old button-down shirts into large, sturdy shopping bags. These bags are capable of carrying a great load, and a great conversation starter!
Replace plastic shopping bags with crocheted nets
While we are on the subject of shopping. The number of produce bags in the vegetable section can quickly add up, especially if we are trying to eat healthy. But we can keep our fruit and vegetables separate, without the use of plastics!
This simple tutorial teaches you how to make your own product net from scratch, in any size you want. Great beginner project if you haven’t crocheted before, and of course you can simply throw them in the wash in between trips!
(A quick note: I’ve found that produce also lasts MUCH longer in cloth produce bags than the plastic ones because they can breathe – once again, the environmental answer is actually the better one to begin with. We’ve only expected the throwaway option to be better and easier, even though most of the time it really isn’t. – A)
Cloth produce bag
If you’re more into closed, cloth bags, we have a simple tutorial for that too! This one shows you how to do it by hand, because we know a lot of people don’t have sewing machines at home. However, you can just as easily finish these up on a machine!
Single-use mask for a washable cloth mask
We know that a surgical mask is nothing like a homemade cloth facemask. But we also acknowledge that there is currently a large PPE shortage, and the front-line workers of the health industry need all the help they can get. For this post, Angela gets help from a skilled seamstress, showing us the tools of the trade for making large batches of cloth face masks from simple tools.
While a cloth face mask does not protect you from others as well as a surgical grade mask does, it does protect others from you if you are carrying a virus without knowing it. Good physical distancing makes up for some of the risk, but if we get on public transportation or other situations where 6 feet is not feasible, wearing a mask can help slow the spread
Have a disposable-free period
When I had my son five years ago, I knew that I would go the cloth diaper route (and cloth wipes along with them), but I have to admit that I hadn’t considered alternatives for myself. Only once I found myself in the “Mama Cloth” section of a cloth diaper site did it dawn on me that there was a better way for me too.
From that purchase forward, I’ve completely done away with disposable pads and tampons. They are way more comfortable, I don’t spend any money on my period these days – other than painkillers – I don’t fill up the trash, and I never have to worry about running out since all it takes to “get more” is to put them through the wash.
In a time when supplies are often out at the store and we’re limiting trips as much as possible, having my own reusable stash on hand is a relief and one less thing I have to worry about. A Diva cup or similar is also a great option, but not one I have experience from personally, as the cloth pads work just fine.
And if you’re really ready to make a change, consider family cloth. Thanks to that switch just for #1, our household uses so much less toilet paper. When everyone was and is still scrambling to stock up, we haven’t had to buy any since mid-February, and that one Costco pack will last us quite a while yet. – A
Replace paper towels with unpaper towels
Last, but not least, we tackle another big resource sink – paper towels. A lot of us are dependant on having a roll in the kitchen to clean up spills after kids, pets, cooking, ourselves – but we don’t need to! If you have an old, tired bedsheet, you can make these dirt simple unpaper towels. They’re not stylish and it doesn’t matter if they’re not cut straight. What matters is that they get the job done.
Make a bunch, dedicate a drawer to them, and grab one whenever you would have typically reached for the paper towels. One unpaper towel can soak up several spills, but I bet you guessed it: Once soiled past redemption, toss in the wash and grab a new one!
Call to action
Will you join us this year in reducing our demand for resources from the earth? If everyone just chose one of these to do this year it would already make a huge impact. Double praise if you try more than one!
I know what I’ll be looking for online today: #reusableforearth
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