How to be a superhero

Following on from my post about cloth sanitary pads (CSPs), I wanted to share with you a few other ways you can reduce your household waste AND fill your home with pretty things. I am aware that I seem to be turning into a bit of a tree-hugger but, you know, trees are kinda cool when you think about it.

This started after one of those golden moments of parenting – my youngest, having been very recently potty trained, emptied two entire packets of wet wipes into her potty then did a wee on them. Clearly she thought she was being an ever-so-clever grown-up girl but …. OHMYGODWHATAWASTE!!!

Throwing away so many wipes all in one go was supremely irritating and made me a bit twitchy but then I realised just how many wipes we get through on a daily basis. I tried to use a dish cloth or sponge as much as possible but the wet wipes always seemed to be closer to hand. A couple for cleaning up after breakfast or snack time. Lots for after lunch and dinner. Flushable wipes after she used the toilet or potty. They are also great for scrubbing off crayon or make-up or any number of marks or stains. BUT that is an awful lot of landfill for one toddler to create!

But it wasn’t just the wipes. There are a lot of bits and bobs we all have in the kitchen for convenience when cooking or cleaning and most of them are disposable after one use. Even the blue J-Cloths I like have to be thrown away after a few uses.

I discovered a whole range of reusable, washable products you can use in your kitchen and around the house as alternatives to the ones we all throw away without a second thought.

Wet wipes

These were my biggest bugbear. Such a waste of money. There are lots and lots of work-at-home mums who make pretty sets of cloth wipes but they are definitely a special treat. I bought a massive stack of cheap microfibre cloths from Yellow Bloom on eBay. I got 40 wipes for £6.99 with free postage.

Even cheaper, you could buy some cheap face flannels from the pound shop or even buy a couple of metres of fleece or terry towelling material and cut it up to make your own. Very cheap to do! Costs as much as a few packs of branded wet wipes but these will last much longer!

Buy a clip-top tupperware box. Again, these are very cheap from the pound shop. But Cheeky Wipes does purpose-made ones if you’d rather. Put a centimetre or so of water in the bottom of the box. Put the stack of wipes in and turn them over so they suck up all the water. Shut the lid. Hey presto! Readymade wet wipes!

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I also bought a bottle of lavender and chamomile oil from Cheeky Wipes. Now this is expensive but not essential. We have really hard water in our area and my girls are prone to very mild eczema and both have sensitive skin. Adding a few drops to the water in the box makes the wipes smell nice and the chamomile is soothing on delicate skin.

For out and about I have a little double-pocketed wet bag. I put a few of my clean prepped wipes in one pocket and used ones go in the other pocket. But a little sandwich box or ziploc bag would work just as well.

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The wipes are machine washable and you don’t even have to dry them afterwards. Just put them back in the tub ready for next time!

Kitchen roll

There are a few work-at-home mums who make beautiful cloth kitchen rolls. I ordered mine from the lovely lady at Noah’s Ark Baby. You can choose from an endless array of fabrics. Mine are Very Hungry Caterpillar cotton on one side and bright terry towelling on the other.

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They popper together into a roll and you can use them for mopping up spills and cleaning the kitchen worktops. I also use them for collecting vegetable peelings before tipping them into the compost bin (that’s an eco superhero double whammy for you right there!).

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I haven’t eliminated paper kitchen roll entirely but I have certainly reduced how much I use.

Snack time!

Another genius idea. I make a packed lunch for my eldest daughter every day. Her sandwich was always wrapped in either cling film, foil or some sort of plastic food bag. All of them thrown away after one use. That’s a lot of landfill that doesn’t break down easily. Little Trees Handmade makes these colourful sandwich wraps:

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The outer waterproof fabric is available in a range of fun prints. The inner fabric is safe for use with foodstuffs. I chose poppers for my fastening. Velcro is also available but it makes me a bit ragey when it sticks to other stuff like tights or delicate knits. Or even if the velcro patches aren’t properly aligned. Just me? Oh… Let’s move on.

I bought this little snack pouch from Funky Little Bugs.

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This one is a waterproof fabric but you can choose from a huge range. Very cool and great for carrying a few snacks and a carton of juice if you’re out for the day, or to send to nursery or the childminder.

Cloth nappies

This is a brilliant way to cut down on your household waste if you have young children. Disposable nappies take up a vast amount of landfill and take forever to decompose. They’re full of chemicals and expensive to buy over two or three years until potty training. Modern cloth nappies are much kinder to babies’ skin and the environment, easy to use and can be very pretty.

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This Owl and the Pussycat one is from Baba’s Bum. Isn’t it gorgeous? Sadly my youngest is now potty trained so I no longer get to use pretty bum fluff!

So there you have it. How to be a kitchen superhero? Affordable non-faff alternatives to throwaway products. Aren’t they pretty? You can sleep soundly knowing you’ve supported some small British businesses AND you’re saving the world at the same time. It’s all very happy-clappy, I know, but I’m finding myself ever more drawn towards more environmental products. Promise I won’t start drinking my own urine or weaving knickers from my own moustache hair though.

(L)

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4 thoughts on “How to be a superhero

  1. Jillmay February 15, 2014 at 17:47 Reply

    Hello.
    I am a lady in my 70s and I love your blog.
    I smiled at your recycle tips about wet wipes and cloth nappies.
    In the days when my family were little I used old cut up cotton vests and t/shirts to mop up.
    They were washed and reused. Same with the old terry nappies when my children no longer needed them. In some ways life is so much better now but I don’t think our landfill was so great.
    Keep up your webpage I look forward to it.
    Jillmay

    • The Pie Patch February 15, 2014 at 18:56 Reply

      Thank you for your lovely words. You are quite right that these tips are not “new” at all but have been largely forgotten in favour of more convenient throwaway versions. My mum used to cut up old clothes for dusters too. We are bombarded with the message that recycling is good but have forgotten that it is far better to reduce our waste in the first place as well as re-use old things & give them new purpose. Thanks for reading & taking the time to comment.

  2. Rachelle Strauss February 22, 2014 at 16:36 Reply

    I LOVE this post and you’;re right – when you look at that pretty ‘kitchen roll’ and that cute cloth wrapped bum and those gorgeous looking sandwiches; who wants the disposable, bleached stuff?! I’ve calculated I save over £1000 a year by reducing waste too – what’s not to love?!

    • The Pie Patch February 22, 2014 at 21:53 Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Rachelle. I’m not sure I’ve saved much money at all yet – I’m so addicted to buying pretty things! But we have massively reduced our kitchen waste & I guess that’s the main point!

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