3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


OK, stumbled on this idea today and since I wanted to keep track of it, what better place to put it than to share it with all of you?

Rain Gutter Bookshelves

The author literally went to the hardware store and bought a rain gutter (although I suppose if you had some lying around, they would work, too) and made bookshelves! So awesome! :)

Sadly, Erin over at The Conscious Shopper has made the decision to stop writing her blog. Read more about this decision here.She will be leaving her blog up for anyone (like me!) who is only just now starting the Conscious Shopper Challenge and will continue to issue Challenges through her other blog: The Green Phone Booth.

————————————————————————————–

Challenge #1 – Trim Your Waste-Line

  1. Week 1 I kept track of how many garbage bags we used.
  2. Week 2 I used ONLY reusable bags in all of my shopping.
  3. Week 3 Start using a reusable water bottle or thermos.
  4. Week 4: Green Your Household Cleaners
  5. Week 5: Ditch those Disposable Paper Products
  6. Week 6: Go Green in the Bathroom

Obviously, I am taking longer than a week to post on these challenges. That doesn’t mean they weren’t completed in a week. It means I have 2 children under 2 who take priority over this blog. :)

Regardless, going green in the bathroom was not as daunting as it may seem. In fact, for the requirements of the challenge, I was well within the Marathon guidelines.  My goal was to advise all of you better ways to Ditch the Disposables in your bathroom.   And in the research for that post, I’ve stumbled on ways that I can further reduce our/my waste in the bathroom.

#1- Shampoo: I’ve decided I’m going to try the No ‘Poo method as soon as my current bottle of shampoo is finished (which should be this week).

#2- Subscribe to the Preserve Toothbrush plan. :) Will be doing this after the holidays.

#3- Deodorant: Make my own. After I’ve mastered the No ‘Poo challenge.

So, as I move through these, I will be sure to let you in on it all!

The next mini-challenge from the Conscious Shopper is: Green Your Diapers.

The varying degrees on this challenge are:

  • Baby Steps: Switch to eco-friendly diapers.
  • Jogging Stride: Use cloth diapers at home.
  • Marathon Runner: Use cloth diapers full time.

Well, as my regular readers already know, we use cloth diapers on both of our children.  The only time they are not cloth diapered, is when they are at my MIL’s (2 days a week) and that is simply because she chooses to buy disposable diapers. For us, choosing cloth was to save money. So, if she wants to buy disposables and isn’t asking us to pay for them, that’s up to her. If she wants us to pay for them, she’s going to use cloth. :) Simple as that. Our other two sitters use our cloth diapers without any problems. One watches them at her house and everything just goes in a wet bag. The other watches them at our house and knows our system.

So, for all of you who want to take on this challenge, go ahead. But I’m moving on to the next challenge: Reduce Packaging.

The varying degrees on this challenge are:

  • Baby Steps: Buy concentrated products. Buy products in bulk.
  • Jogging Stride: Eat fresh foods. Limit individually packaged foods.
  • Marathon Runner: Buy from the bulk bins. Choose used over new.

Some of this is so easy for me: I buy used whenever possible and encourage it from others when they are buying gifts for myself or the kids. I love fresh foods. Some is new: I’m researching concentrated products like Dr. Bronner’s and as soon as my budget will allow, I’m buying some! I’ve never bought from the bulk bins at Whole Foods or at any store (other than produce). And with #2 constantly wanting a snack or a “treat”, individual items are sometimes easier.  *sigh* Ok, I’m going to take on this challenge this way: With each and every purchase, I’m going to stop and think:

  1. Is there a way to get this used or with no packaging?
  2. Is there a way to buy more of this item, to limit the amount of packaging?
  3. Is there a way to buy this that great-grandma would have recognized it – pure, whole, and fresh?

Check back with me next week!

Anyone want to join me on this? Head over and take the Challenge!

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader.  Choose one of the options at right!

 

This is part of a new series of posts called Ditch the Disposables where I explore and educate about reusable options for common disposable items.

———————————————–

As part of my current Conscious Shopping Challenge, I decided to take a look at the disposable items found in the bathroom.  For such a small room, it really does produce a lot of waste (pun not intended!)! I decided to break these down into Paper Products & Personal Care items. Enjoy!

Paper Products

Facial Tissue

Facial Tissue is a common household item in many homes, especially as we make our way into the cold and flu season. You find yourself carrying them around in your pocket, your purse, just about everywhere – prepared.  A great alternative to kleenex or Puffs or whatever brand you use is: handkerchiefs. Yes, those old stand-bys your grandma used to use!

I’ve been using handkerchiefs for about 5 years now and absolutely love them. I switched one winter when I had been battling a particular nasty cold and my nose was just so raw it was painful.  The thought of using one more kleenex/toiletpaper/paper towel made me just cringe. So, I dug out a little hanky I’d been given as a gift years before. Put that in my pocket thinking that it was going to be completely gross when I put in the laundry that night. And yeah, it kinda was. But I discovered something else: comfort. It didn’t hurt to blow my nose! It didn’t hurt to wipe it, either! And the hanky just seemed to go on and on; after each use I would fold it, and fold it, and keep finding clean spots throughout the day. With disposable tissues, I had easily been using half the box. Well, this got me thinking: $$$. Duh, using the hanky was going to save me money. And for me, sometimes that is all it takes! Each night I toss the used hanky in the laundry. Each morning, I tuck a new one in my pocket or purse. And as a mom, I found out that my oldest child won’t fight me when I have to wipe her nose if I use the cloth hanky!

Where to buy:

There are several online retailers that have cloth handkerchiefs available for sale, if you wish to purchase them. Most are also retailers for cloth diapers, mama cloth, and other reusable products. Go figure.

Or brick & mortar stores:

  • Major retailers like Walmart or Target (usually found in the mens’ section)

Or buy used/vintage:

  • Thrift Stores, garage sales, etc.  (I love to see the beautiful patterns found in vintage hankies!)

If you are so gifted, you can also make these yourself.  There are several patterns out there, these are only a few. I just did a Google search.

Using several of these methods, I now have a dozen or more hankies for personal use. I have folded them and keep them in an old tissue box (DH still prefers “real” tissues, but we haven’t bought a box in a year). When I pull one out, the next one “pops” up, just like disposables.

Facial pads

Many people use these for removing make-up, or for facial cleansers. You can buy or make reusable ones that will save you money and help the planet. Jillian’s Drawers has a set that even come with a dispenser and a little bag to wash them in!

Feminine Protection – this post covers this in great detail.

Toilet Paper

Lastly, the one everyone was most curious about, I’m sure. Toilet Paper.

Buy/Make:

Use:

Cloth TP is used the same way you use paper TP. I keep ours in a little basket in the bathroom. (In fact, unless you knew it, you would think they were the wipes for the diapers!) You can wet it first, if you choose. In fact, most people find this to be the best & most comfortable way.  This can be done either in the sink, or with a peribottle kept in the bathroom for that purpose.   It is, in fact, very comfortable. And I actually feel cleaner after using the cloth TP I have in the bathroom.

Laundry:

As with cloth diapers, everyone wants to know, what do you do when it’s time to wash? When you’re done using it, you can keep the wipes until laundry day in a wet bag or in a container (wet bag is easiest, because it can go right in the laundry, too!).  After whatever method you’ve chosen, you can either a) do a load of just the cloth wipes, b) add them to your regular laundry (some people choose towels.), or c) if you have children in cloth diapers, you can toss them in with the diapers. That’s it. They can be dried either in the dryer or on the line.

Personal Care Items

As far as “disposable” when it comes to Personal Care items, I have chosen to focus on homemade recipes = less packaging waste. This will also address issues with chemicals in these items, because you are making them yourself.

Shampoo/Conditioner

Option 1: Buying items that have little to no packaging, like this shampoo bar from Burt’s Bees.

Option 2: Make it yourself.

Option 3: Go No ‘Poo. Many people have successfully gone this route, including the author of the Conscious Shopper Challenge herself.   Google “No Poo” and you’ll find several articles: like this How to Go No Poo and No ‘Poo: New & Improved. This is my next personal challenge, when my current shampoo is gone.

Body Wash

Option 1: Buy Items with little to no packaging – Use any number of Soap bars on the market.  Be sure to read ingredients & check anything you are unsure of against the Skin Deep site. There are several out there you can buy on Etsy or at your local health foods store.

Option 2: Make it yourself. Google “homemade body wash” and I found these articles:

Or, if you’re so inclined, do the same search, but for Homemade Soap. There’s so much to find!  Even how to make soap bars in a crock pot!

Toothbrushes

Now, I am not going to advocate never changing your toothbrush. Or to reuse someone else’s. BUT there are several great products out there you should check out.

  • Preserve Toothbrushes are made from recycled yogurt cups (the bristles are new!) and they are completely recyclable when you’re done. But wait! They offer a subscription service. Pay $13/yr and you will get a new toothbrush 4 times a year. The first shipment has a travel case. Each shipment thereafter includes a pack to ship your USED toothbrush back to Preserve where they will recycle it back into a new toothbrush!
  • Eco-Dent Replaceable Head Toothbrushes: You simply replace the head every 3 months.
  • ToteBrush: a unique product with replacable bristles/head that include the toothpaste as well.

Toothpaste

Option 1: Buy something with Less Packaging. Like this Tooth Powder from Monkey Brand.  Have never used this, but sounds interesting.

Option 2: Make Your Own. Again, Google is your friend. Found these recipes:

Shaving Supplies

Option 1: Buy an Item with Less Packaging. Like a Shaving Soap and brush. The whole kit has a bit of packaging, but once you have the brush and bowl, you only need to buy the soap again.

Option 2: Make Your Own.  Like that found here: Shaving Soap Recipe

Takes you back to the day of the barber shop with the shave stool.

Deodorant

Option 1: Buy an item with less packaging. The Crystal is probably the most popular of name brands.

Option 2: Make your own.  Google will bring you a TON of recipes:

This is my next challenge after the “no ‘poo”!

I haven’t tried all of these methods personally, but there are a lot of great options there! Leave a comment with your experience, please! We all learn from each other.

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader.  Choose one of the options at right!

 

When I was working on greening my household cleaners, I came across quite a few recipes for making your own cleaners and I wanted to share those with you.

Some of these came from fans of my Facebook page, some from the web (and I’ll try to give credit where possible!), and some from a great book I book at Walmart in their discount bin a few years ago.

The book is called Homemade: How to make everyday products fast, fresh, and more naturally. (A Reader’s Digest book).  If you’re interested in finding this book, check your local library first – the greenest option! If you want to own it, I found it on Amazon for $6.38 – much less than I paid for it! It includes a lot more than cleaning recipes, so it’s worth the $6.38. :)

Now, on to the recipes! I’m calling this Part One, because today I’m just focusing on General household cleaners & specific Kitchen cleaners. Obviously, you can buy eco-friendly brands, but this is to cut costs even further, and to guarantee you know what is in your products!

General Cleaners

  • Glass Cleaner #1 (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: 1/2 c. White Vinegar; 2/3 gallon water; 1 clean gallon container, 1 clean 32oz. spray bottle.
    • Directions: Mix ingredients in the gallon container. Fill the spray bottle & spray on windows & glass items as needed. Dry glass with crumpled newspaper.
  • Glass Cleaner #2 (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: 1/3 c. White Vinegar; 1/4 c. Rubbing Alcohol; 3 1/2 c. water; 1 clean 32oz. spray bottle
    • Directions: Mix all ingredients in the spray bottle. Shake well. Spray on windows & glass items. Dry with crumpled newspaper.
  • Multipurpose Cleaner (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: 3 1/2 c. Hot Water; 1/2 c. White or Apple Cider Winegar; 1 t. Borax; 1 t. Washing Soda; 1 t. Liquid Castile Soap; 1 clean 32oz. spray bottle
    • Directions: Fill spray bottle first with hot water; then add vinegar, borax, washing soda, and liquid castile soap. Shake well. Spray on surfaces. Wipe down with a clean cloth or damp sponge.
  • Carpet Freshener (various websites)
    • Ingredients: Baking Soda
    • Directions: Sprinkle on carpet. Let set (time recommended varied. 1-3 hours). Vacuum up.
    • Caution: Some commenters warned about clogging vacuums. So, use with caution, or just be aware this may happen.
  • Fake Febreze (The Grocery Cart Challenge - great blog! She feeds a family of 6 on $60/wk!)
    • Ingredients: 2-3 T liquid fabric softener; 25 oz. Water; spray bottle.
    • Directions: Mix ingredients in spray bottle. Spray.
  • Air Freshener (Facebook fan)
    • Ingredients: 1 c. Activated Charcoal (about $10/bottle at Walgreens, but also available online)
    • Directions: Use 1 c. of charcoal in each room. Change every 6 months.
  • Floor Cleaner (Facebook fan)
    • Ingredients: White Distilled Vinegar, Water
    • Directions: Mix together. Mop.

Kitchen Cleaners

  • Automatic Dishwasher detergent (Facebook fan)
    • Ingredients: 1 c. Borax; 1 c. Washing Soda; 1 bottle of CitriShine (found in the dish aisle. Any citric acid could be used)
    • Directions: Mix together in a container and seal tightly. Use 2 T mixture for each load.
  • Fake Jet-Dry (Facebook fan)
    • Ingredients: White Vinegar
    • Directions: Use in jet-dry hole in your dishwasher.
  • Oven Cleaner (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: 2 T liquid soap; 2 t. Borax; 2 c. Warm Water; 1 clean 16oz spray bottle; 1/2 c. Baking Soda in an open bowl
    • Directions: Pour the soap & borax into a spray bottle. Add warm water. Shake well to dissolve. Spray solution on oven surfaces. Let mixture set for 30 min.-1hour. Scrub with a damp scrub pad dipped in baking soda. Rinse with clean water.
  • Garbage Disposal Cleaner (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: 1 qt. White Vinegar; ice-cube tray
    • Directions: Fill an ice-cube tray with white vinegar and freeze it. Remove cubes, place in a sealed plastic bag and return to the freezer. Once a week, run 2-3 vinegar cubes through garbage disposer.
  • Garbage Disposal Freshener (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: Orange, Lemon or Grapefruit peels
    • Directions: Store in a sealed plastic bag in refrigerator. Once or twice a week run a few peels through the disposal.
  • Scouring Powder (Homemade… book)
    • Ingredients: 1 c. Baking Soda; 1 c. Borax; 1 c. Salt; 1 clean 32oz plastic container with cover.
    • Directions: Combine ingredients in container & mix well. Close tightly to store. Sprinkle some on a damp sponge or directly on surface. Scour, rinse, dry.
  • Dishwasher Cleaner (Shopping Thrifty)
    • Ingredients: 1/2 c. White Vinegar; 2 T Baking Soda
    • Directions: “Simply pour the white vinegar and baking soda into your empty dishwasher. Next, start the dishwasher and allow it to run through a complete cycle. Repeat this process once a month to remove hard water buildup, stains, grime, and odor.”

Have you tried any of these? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! I haven’t tried some of these yet.

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader.  Choose one of the options at right!

 

Sadly, Erin over at The Conscious Shopper has made the decision to stop writing her blog. Read more about this decision here.She will be leaving her blog up for anyone (like me!) who is only just now starting the Conscious Shopper Challenge and will continue to issue Challenges through her other blog: The Green Phone Booth.

————————————————————————————–

Challenge #1 – Trim Your Waste-Line

  1. Week 1 I kept track of how many garbage bags we used.
  2. Week 2 I used ONLY reusable bags in all of my shopping.
  3. Week 3 Start using a reusable water bottle or thermos.
  4. Week 4: Green Your Household Cleaners
  5. Week 5: Ditch those Disposable Paper Products

This last week I really tried to focus on what paper products we have in our home that are non-recyclable. Ones that I could maybe replace with a reusable alternative.  (I did not include the diapers, because – looking ahead – that’s another Conscious Shopper challenge. :))  Erin @ The Conscious Shopper suggested to really focus on paper towels, napkins and and toilet paper. Well, that made me think of facial tissues and wipes as well. (And she mentions a link to a post of hers on gift wrap… hmm, will have to look at that closer for the holidays.)

Napkins: we use exclusively cloth and have since our marriage began 5 years ago. So, that one was a no-brainer.

Tissues: *I* use handkerchiefs. It is a bit of a personal challenge to get  DH to do this also.  Right now, we have no disposable tissues in the house. I took our last box (free from my stay at the hospital with #2), cut out a square in the bottom, and actually folded the handkerchiefs in a way that by pulling one out the slit in the top, the next “pops” up. Just like disposables! I’m pretty proud of it. Need to “beautify” the box, but it works for now. (My mom even used one when she was visiting to wipe #1’s nose! Into the laundry basket I keep in the pantry for laundry day. I was so impressed. )  If anyone is interested, I can post some pictures.

Paper Towels: another personal challenge. I use dishtowels or dishcloths for everything you might use a paper towel for. In the past it has taken us years to use up the pack of paper towels. But DH finds paper towels easier for the “messes” #1 likes to make when eating, etc. so we have been buying them more lately.  I’m still fighting him on that one, but I will win. It doesn’t help when we find paper towels for nearly nothing at the store.

Wet Wipes: I only thought of this one the other day, so it wasn’t part of my week’s challenge. We use cloth wipes with our diapers, but often find disinfecting wipes best for cleaning down the high chair and #1’s eating spot, as well as disinfecting items during cold & flu season. It really has been bothering me, because we can chew through a lot of these depending on the time of the year. And then I came across this post over on Money Saving Mom (love that site!), which linked me to Live Renewed (another new site I love!) that had a recipe for “Homemade ‘Clorox’ Wipes”. This is what I needed! Now, sadly, I don’t have all of the supplies. I think I could make do with the dish soap instead of Castile Soap until I can pick some up, but the tea tree oil I definitely don’t have a substitute for.  But I can make it up in principal, try it out, and the next time I’m at Whole Foods pick up the rest of the supplies. On my to-do list for the weekend. Seriously, we go through so many of these wipes.

Lastly, Toilet Paper: It is possible to use cloth wipes for yourself in the bathroom. People do it all over the world!  For some reason, it’s deemed icky here.  I’ve decided I’m adding The Bathroom to my list of Ditch the Disposables series and I’ll go over “family wipes” there in detail.  Suffice it to say, while I did not reach my goal of 100% use while at home, I did use them 80-90% of the time.

This week’s mini-challenge is: Go Green in the Bathroom and the main focus is on greening the personal care products you use there.

The varying degrees on this challenge are:

  • Baby Steps: Use fewer personal care products
  • Jogging Stride: Avoid the Dirty Dozen
  • Marathon Runner: Switch to products that score low on the Skin Deep Guide.

Now, for myself and the kids, we are already Marathon Runners on this one. In fact, I wrote a post about it. I still can’t get DH to drop his Head & Shoulders shampoo.

So, my goal for the week is to write that Ditch The Disposables: The Bathroom post and let you know the options and where you can find them for purchase (or how to make them!).

Check back with me next week!

Anyone want to join me on this? Head over and take the Challenge!

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader.  Choose one of the options at right!

 

Sadly, Erin over at The Conscious Shopper has made the decision to stop writing her blog. Read more about this decision here.She will be leaving her blog up for anyone (like me!) who is only just now starting the Conscious Shopper Challenge and will continue to issue Challenges through her other blog: The Green Phone Booth.

————————————————————————————–

Challenge #1 – Trim Your Waste-Line

  1. Week 1 I kept track of how many garbage bags we used.
  2. Week 2 I used ONLY reusable bags in all of my shopping.
  3. Week 3 Start using a reusable water bottle or thermos.
  4. Week 4: Green Your Household Cleaners

I know it’s been nearly a month since my last update on this challenge. But do not think that I haven’t been working hard on it. I gave myself permission to not stress about it and think I HAD to move on to the next step. So, needless to say, I focused on #4 for nearly a month.  And boy, will you benefit!

I found recipes for nearly every kind of cleaner you could use in your house – even things like Febreze and a shower cleaner! – all from common household items. And I’m happy to say, they all work great.  So great, in fact, that I have a post currently brewing with all of the recipes Just For You!

AND I was able to find some great sources for reusable items like fake-Swiffer pads, dusters, and even ack! Toilet brushes!  So, stay tuned for that post in the near future.

This week’s mini-challenge is: Dispose of Your Disposable Paper Products and it mentions that it is focusing on those items that you CAN’T recycle.

The varying degrees on this challenge are:

  • Baby Steps: Use fewer disposable paper products
  • Jogging Stride: Buy paper products with recycled content.
  • Marathon Runner: Use cloth.

I’m thinking… Marathon. When we got married 5 years ago, I switched us over to cloth napkins, towels, even handkerchiefs for me!  And I’ve already told you about my switch to reusable feminine products. We all know DH & I love the cloth diapers and wipes for the kiddos. And lately…. *looking around* I’ve been using cloth TOILET PAPER for me probably 75% of the time.   So, I’m going to strive really hard to ONLY use cloth this week for everything.  (Maybe I should make it a goal to convert DH 100% to the handkerchief and cloth TP ideas…  maybe I shouldn’t push it.)

Check back with me next week!

Anyone want to join me on this? Head over and take the Challenge!

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader.  Choose one of the options at right!
This is part of a new series of posts called Ditch the Disposables where I explore and educate about reusable options for common disposable items.

———————————————–

I’ve had some questions come up from readers lately about reusable feminine products, both menstrual cups and cloth pads, so I thought I would write up a post about what is out there and what I use/recommend.  (Guys- you can skip this post, if you like, or pass it on to the women in your lives!)

My Story (or How I Discovered The Cloth World…)

For several years, I hated my monthly period. I mean, hated. It was just painful, a bother, and… gross. I would have at least 24 hours of debilitating cramps (the type that would leave me writhing in a super-hot bathtub, delirious with a pain fever, begging to die), followed by the next several days of dry and painful tampon changes.  I thought that this was just how it was. Deal with it. Pop a few Midol or Aleve and move on. Pray that next month it was better.

Never even considered using cloth. That had been extinct since the 1800s, right? Who uses “rags” anymore?  I don’t even remember now how I first saw cloth pads. It may have been when I was researching cloth diapers (even before I was pregnant!). But in any case, I bought a sampler pack from a retailer.

The Options

Cloth Pads

There are actually a few different “styles” of cloth pads available.

  • All-in-one: these are made where the absorbant layer on top and the water-proof layer on bottom are all sewn together as one piece. These need to be changed completely, as a whole, with each pad change.
  • Pocket: these have a pocket where can “stuff” absorbant material to your specifications. Water-proof later is again on the bottom. These need to be changed completely, as a whole, with each pad change.
  • All-in-two (well, that’s what I’ll call them): these have the water-proof bottom, sewn to an absorbant top. Then there will be another layer of flannel that is detatchable. This is held to the main pad with either snaps or a piece of rikrak. When you change these, you usually only need to change the top layer with each change, reducing the number of “pads” that you need.

Any of the above can be found as a) lay-in pads: your body holds them in place to your panties. Or b) “with wings” that snap around your panty to hold them in place (this is more common).

You can purchase these from well-established retailers:

Or, if you are so gifted, you can make your own. Here are some patterns available for free on the web (I just did a Google search – there were more!):

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are made from either rubber or silicone. They are designed to be inserted into a woman’s vagina during her period to collect the menstrual fluid. Depending on the brand, they can last from 5-10 years before they need replacing.  There CAN be a learning curve in how to insert, but once you’ve figured it out – easy! They are generally available in 2 sizes and choosing the correct size is important, because it is the muscles in your vaginal wall that keep the cup in place.

Popular Brands:

Sea Sponges

Contain no Dioxin or synthetic fibers, are sustainably harvested and reusable for three to six months or more. They can be custom trimmed to fit.  Sponges are naturally very absorbent, and can also be used during sex. They have been an option for contraception for years.

Where to buy: Jade & Pearl is a common brand. I have NOT used these, so this is the extent of any knowledge I have on these.

Accessories

Carry Bags are probably the most common, also known as “wet bags”. These are bags where you can store your cloth pads or diva cup between uses.  Some brands make a variety with a water-proof outer layer, perfect for storing used cloth pads until you can launder them. Essential for when you are “out and about”.

How This Works in Real  Life

Use

You use cloth pads the same as you would disposable pads. Changing as needed and recommended, according to the manufacturer. The biggest thing new users will notice is that a) you WON’T notice them after a while. No sticking to your skin. No drying out.  And b) your period may become lighter.  This was a big one with me. I always needed “maxi”, “heavy day” pads previously. Now, I can easily get by with lighter-day pads on most days, and maybe only one heavier day where I need the “big guns”.

With the cups, the biggest hurdle is learning how to insert them properly. Once that is done, you will never know how you did without it. They only need to be emptied once every 12 hours. It was amazing how little blood there actually was. Especially with how moist my girly-parts felt. I learned that I had been sucking my natural moisture out with the disposable products and this is what was causing most of my pain issues. When I do empty the cup, I wipe it out, reinsert it and I’m good to go.

Out and About

Everyone is always concerned with this part. What do I do when I’m out of the house? Well, what did you do before? Ball up the tampon/pad, wrap it in toilet paper, and toss it, right? Well, just omit the last 2 steps. :) With the cup, there’s literally nothing to do: wipe it out, reinsert it, keep going. With the cloth pads, replace the top liner or the entire pad, depending on the system you’ve chosen, put the soiled pad in your carry bag. Replace with a new pad. When you get home, rinse out the soiled pad or soak it. Then come laundry day, wash them. That’s it.

Laundry

Just like with cloth diapers, people are seriously freaked out about the ick factor when it comes to cloth pad laundry. At this point, 2 cloth-diapered kids later, nothing really grosses me out anymore. Well, maybe spiders.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to cloth pad laundry.

  • Soak method: this requires you to have a soaker pot, or something in which to store you pads, covered in water, until laundry day.
  • Rinse method: This method has you rinsing out any soiled pads in your sink. And then placing them somewhere until laundry day.

I personally use the rinse method.  I tried the soak method and had an issue with my soaking pot seriously stinking. And I can’t take stink. People do recommend using essential oils, or even drops of soap, to combat the stink. But for me, it was just easier to switch to the rinse method. Works just as well for me.

After whatever method you’ve chosen, you can either a) do a load of just the cloth pads, b) add them to your regular laundry (some people choose towels. Doesn’t matter to me or my husband – so they’ll often go in our regular laundry), or c) if you have children in cloth diapers, you can toss them in with the diapers.  Some caveats: do not use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets. These will usually cause your cloth pads to repel liquid, which obviously defeats the purpose of having cloth pads. Leaks = Yucky.

I dry in the dryer as I do any other load, but have line-dried on occasion.

The cup is really easy in regards to care and cleaning.  I will give mine a good cleaning, rinsing, etc at night after using it. And then after each cycle, boil it to sanitize it.  Each manufacturer has different recommendations, so follow their directions. Once I’ve sanitized mine, back into its storage carry bag and into my purse for the next cycle.

My Final Thoughts

While my initial reasons for switching were completely personal – I was sick and tired of being in pain – I have come to realize there are so many more benefits. First, I am not spending money on disposable products any longer. More cash in my pocket! Love that. And I no longer have the dreaded moment when I’m in the bathroom and realize I am out of supplies! Who’s been there? Raise your hand. I see you! Everyone has. (In fact, I do have a limited supply still in my bathroom from pre-cloth days, but they’re for guests who find themselves in that same spot.)  Second, I am no longer throwing away products that are going into landfills. Huge bonus! And lastly, I am not introducing my body to toxic chemicals each and every month.  I know that should be higher on my list, but honestly, I had never thought about that before. Pain and money are usually higher on my list of priorities. So, shoot me.

And what about that pain? Gone. I have not suffered from significant menstrual cramps since switching. Minor annoyances, but nothing that impedes my daily life. And nothing that requires OTC medication.

Any questions? Please leave a comment. If I don’t know the answer, I will find out!

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader. Choose one of the options at right!

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers