If you think about it, everything you use once and throw away adds to your daily costs. It also adds to our landfills and impact on the environment. To get away from this whole throwaway society, we try to use many reusable products in our home. The savings may seem small, but over the course of a few months, a year, or more, it can really add up:
∞ Canvas lunchbags: We particularly like the Igloo brand and have bought several from Target. All of us in the family carry one every day. You can also find good deals on lunchbags on Amazon. We bought these this past year and they were great to fit divided lunch containers.
∞ Reusable and washable lunch containers: We try to use as few disposable lunch items as possible. We use either glass or plastic containers and reusable plastic silverware in our lunches. A few years ago we also purchased fabric snack bags from Reuseit.com. We particularly like the Reuseit sandwich bags (for a wide variety of lunch items) and the Reusies Snack Bags (we use these for cereal in the morning in the car). When we use these bags, my husband uses an old bottle rack and washes them about once a week. We save on plastic bags and have very little trash from our lunches! There are many different kinds of these bags available now!
∞ Washrags instead of paper towels: We keep a drawer in the kitchen filled with washcloths (when our boys were younger these were great to clean our boys faces and hands after meals) and rags (to wipe off the table and counters). This does make more laundry, but less cost and waste, too. Wal-Mart has big packs of kitchen rags for relatively cheap prices.
∞ Water filter in our refrigerator: We were lucky to get a refrigerator with our home that has a built-in water-filter with the water dispenser. I would recommend looking for this if purchasing a new refrigerator. Otherwise, look for a Brita or Pur system and then fill your own reusable water bottles. This way we have no need for bottled water. Eventually I would love to put a filter on our tap, too, but we haven’t gotten to that yet.
∞ Reusable water bottles: We each have our own water bottle for use in our lunches, playing outside or excursions with the family. I even used my label maker to put names on the kids’ bottles, so they know whose is whose when they are all out at once.
∞ Cloth napkins: We found some great cloth napkins at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We have been using them for years. We have some for everyday and others for Shabbos. We have gotten to love them so much that paper napkins just don’t clean as well or last as well through a meal! We do keep some disposable napkins on hand for emergencies (when we are behind on the laundry), though!