Yesterday I asked you to suggest a challenge for me to work on this week as part of the Change the World Wednesday challenge at Reduce Footprints.
During the past 24 hours I gave serious thought to where I waste resources and realized my lifestyle of being a night owl is the one things I could and should change. I normally head to bed at 3 am, which is close to when many people are getting up. While I don’t use a lot of electricity during the early morning hours I do have one light on during that time. That’s one light that even being only 13 watts is still energy I could save. I will be attempting to head to bed earlier by an hour a day, or if too drastic at least every other day to try, once again, to reset my internal clock at least back to midnight.
But you did ask questions I would like to answer today about my lifestyle and how I was able to make these changes.
Joy@ Joyfully Green asked about paper products because of the amount of trees that are cut each year. Small Footprints asked me to talk about how I made the changes in my life. Today I will share with you how I eliminated nearly all paper from my life.
I have done well cutting out paper products from my life. The only paper products purchased are recycled toilet paper and sandpaper. a I buy toilet paper in a case online with zero plastic packaging. This might have been the easiest change I made what is easier to do but to switch one product for another that has no visible difference?
Sandpaper is another matter. I know of no alternative to sandpaper. Yes, I have sanding blocks that have been used for years and are still holding up well, but for some jobs I need sandpaper. I enjoy restoring other people’s trash and finding homes for them so I must resign myself to the fact that to continue to save good furniture from ending up in the landfills I must purchase a paper product.
Paper tissues (Kleenex) are something I never liked. My grandfather carried white handkerchiefs and my grandmother carried lovely embroidered ones their entire lives. I watched my grandmother lovingly ironing their sheets and handkerchiefs each week. I don’t go that far but enjoy using cloth. Growing up I didn’t want to be different from my peers in school so I did use tissues but hated how they felt. When sick with a runny nose cloth is so much more gentle to the skin.
While I was given a package of men’s white handkerchiefs from a friend who didn’t want them (yes, they were a gift to them and still in the package) I offer the grandchildren pieces of old t-shirts to use. They don’t even ask anymore just head to the rag basket to find a soft cloth to use when needed. The turning point came when my granddaughter arrived crying that her nose hurt from running and she didn’t want to wipe it. I promised her I had something that wouldn’t hurt her raw nose. She agreed to try one of the rags and never went back to paper. I also put a dab of honey on her nose before she fell asleep to heal the skin. She woke in the morning, leaped into my arms to thank me because her nose no longer hurt.
With a full basket of rags I have no need for paper towels. I have even stopped buying dishcloths as my old ones wear out. I simply replaced them with fabric from the rag pile. Works well for me.
As for other paper products, most weren’t very hard once I gave it a bit of thought. Any notes I need to keep I store in my phone on an app called OneNote. Instead of printing things from the computer to share I put them on a thumb drive or email them to the person. My son does this regularly with his stories. He brings his thumb drive to me which I then copy to my computer to edit and publish.
A big way to reduce paper is by cutting down on mail. I have only two bills a month; rent and internet. These I pay in person with cash. If I pay a month ahead on my internet I receive no bill in the mail. If you can’t pay 2 months of a recurring bill you can add a few extra dollars each month until you have accumulated enough to represent a monthly payment.
I have no checks for my bank accounts and don’t use my debit card as they cost businesses money to accept. I do have a bank card because there are situations when it is needed. An example of needing to use my bank card would be to purchase bus tickets for trips. Since I need to make arrangements with the bus over the phone for a wheelchair pickup I must pay for the ticket at that time.
Paper can enter our lives in other ways as well. One that comes to mind is through our purchase of books and magazines. This was difficult for me for a while. If there is one thing I can spend money on it’s books. I adore books. But in an effort to reduce both my footprint and my expenses I now use the library and/or purchase used books. I keep very few books and pass on books when I finish with them or donate them to the library so others have an opportunity to use them. It is a very rare thing when I buy a new book today, I’ve come a long way as I used to spend anywhere from $100 to $200 a month on books.
Magazines were a bit harder. I have two magazines I enjoy. One is Yes! Magazine. It’s full of wonderful stories and inspiration, the other is my habit of picking up cross stitch magazines when at the store (it helps that I am close to not needing to shop at the grocery store when I see these). I canceled Yes! Magazine and now read their content online. It’s not the same as curling up with their magazine for an afternoon but I feel better about it. Cross stitch magazines I now only buy if there is a project I see that I could use for a gift. But the gift has to be something I will give soon, not some day down the road. I did see my favorite magazine now has a disc with all of their magazines from the very first one to present available and I am considering this option.
There’s one area that is hard. How do you raise children and allow them to be creative without paper? This is where I have failed. I do have coloring books here for the children. But while coloring books or coloring pages are an important skill that must be learned before school there are ways we have reduced relying on purchasing paper and books. I’ve shown you the books I made the children from Kraft paper I saved from packaging found in boxes left for me to use in the garden. Junk mail we find becomes art paper. Blank envelopes are another source of art for children along with boxes you receive. By offering lots of creative opportunities with various materials our reliance on paper is reduced.
Some of the materials we use here:
- toilet rolls
- paints ( I have plenty given to me for furniture)
- Even old clothing is used as the canvas for art.
I also include the children in preparing meals, helping in the garden, talking walks, visiting the playgrounds and many other activities that reduce the reliance on store bought craft supplies.