I started an update on our eco activities about a bazillion weeks ago and have never finished it. It became long, unwieldy and something not even I wanted to read; which let’s face it defeats the point of the post since these posts are mainly re-read by me! So I’m breaking it down a bit. When I first started writing the original post, I felt like we hadn’t made much progress but in reality we have embedded some good changes. The biggest of those has been around our general use of wipes and then how we wash them so that’s where I’m starting…
Wipes, napkins and handkerchiefs
So I’ve mentioned previously how we moved Little Z to cloth wipes when she was a couple of months old. But we still had wipes lurking around the house in various other forms. The main usage was for Little H who was using supposedly biodegradable toilet tissue for certain trips to the loo. However, there has been much in the news about how none of these wipes are actually biodegradable so I decided it was time to ditch them. Upstairs was easy as I popped a pile of Cheeky Wipes on the shelf near the toilet. She could then dampen it at the sink and dispose of it in the nappy bin once used. Downstairs was less obvious until I remember I had a secondary set of Cheeky Wipe boxes I wasn’t using. So I put the dirty box next to the down stairs toilet with it’s mesh bag. Then I hung a mesh bag of wipes off the rail for the hand towel. Now Little H will do the same downstairs as she does upstairs. All I have to do is remember to wash the additional bag of wipes when I chuck the nappy wash on!
As an extension of wipes, I also dug our cloth napkins out of the airing cupboard where they had been languishing barely used since our wedding in 2010. I popped them on the butchers trolley in the kitchen so Sam and I can now grab one instead of using kitchen roll or a tissue when we eat! Such an obvious change that I’m quite ashamed I didn’t do it sooner. The girls both use a muslin cloth to wipe when eating so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that mummy and daddy should be doing something similar. Definitely a ‘face-palm’ moment.
Talking of muslin cloths, now that Little Z is older and no longer needs carting round with at least 3 muslin cloths to hand, we now have a decent stash to hand. So I have been using them a little more widely in the kitchen, for example when wrapping up spare food or keeping layers of baked goods separate. This has massively reduced our usage of kitchen roll. We still do have kitchen roll but we save it for those really messy or dirty jobs. It finally gave me the push to order some handkerchiefs so I can try and reduce my tissue usage. I always used hankies as a kid – my dad has a huge drawer full – but Sam prefers tissues and they became so easy to use. I have 8 in total and so far so good. They are as easy to stick in my pocket as a tissue and I definitely am using far fewer tissues.
Of course, with going reusable comes an increase in washing. Because every other day is dominated by the nappy wash, the end result was a pile of soggy muslin cloths and bibs chucked on the utility room sink or the floor. So I repurposed a basket that I had been using for a plant and popped it under the sink in the downstairs loo. Now it’s all neat and tidy again!
Increasing water use is also a concern with some of these reusable solutions both from an environmental and cost perspective. Well, that and time! As a family of 4 busy people, including 2 often messy smalls and Sam, we have quite a lot of washing. On top of that we also have the nappy run. The water overhead of the latter is something which I am comfortable with, being better than the manufacture of disposables. But for regular clothing we wash a lot. Since Little H was a baby, she has had fresh clothes every day. But in reality, she doesn’t need that any more. Of course, nursery clothes go straight in the wash but on other days I now encourage her to check if her clothes are clean and we now put things back in the drawer, exactly as I do with my own clothes. With Little Z, since she doesn’t dribble much or have nappy leaks, I can now get a couple of wears out of her vests. And her PJ suit is worn for a number of days until it doesn’t feel fresh anymore. Whilst we haven’t reduced our number of loads because of the wipes above, we haven’t had to do any extra.
So for now, I think we have made all the wipe related changes that I think are feasible for us and I’m pretty pleased with the changes! Now it’s time to turn our attention to other aspects of our home and lives – more to follow in the next few updates so stay tuned…