The Reusable Revolution: 6 Products to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

The Disposable Revolution of the 20th century is over.  We have realized that it's not sustainable for every single person to throw away every napkin, diaper, and bag that she uses.  My mother-in-law said that in the 60s there were disposable paper dresses!  I'm glad that fad never caught on.  The great news is that 21st century entrepreneurs have jumped on the throw-back, reusable product bandwagon with modern style and technology.

I use cloth napkins, reusable shopping bags, cloth diapers, cloth nursing pads, washable menstrual pads, and handkerchiefs.


My first reusable purchase back in 2007 was cloth napkins.  Target has been a great place to buy 100% cotton napkins.  You can get sets of 4 for $10 in great colors or prints.  I have three sets from Target that I use everyday, but I have two sets of "special occasion" napkins from Macy's as well.  All of them were purchased in 2007 and all still look great.  I like them better than disposable paper napkins because one is more than enough for even the messiest meals.

Shopping bags
One of my Envirosax
Before disposable shopping bags, women carried wicker baskets and general stores would stack your purchases up in wooden crates for you to lug around.  Luckily, the 21st century options are durable yet ultra-lightweight.

Every store has their own reusable bags now, but I still love my Australian Envirosax that I bought in 2007.  They are shaped like the old plastic bags, but they hold about three times as much.  You can buy them individually to carry in your pocket or purse, or in packs of 5 for a whole cart-full of groceries.

I have the ones made from nylon, but they also make cotton, bamboo, linen, and hemp bags.  All are washable.

gDiapers come in cute colors
These aren't your grandmothers cloth diapers.  Cloth diapering has become fashionable, so why not allow your baby to rock some diaper fashion?  I've been using gDiapers on my son since I brought him home and I love them.  The absorbent liner is made from hemp, with a soft fleece to go against the baby's skin.  They also have a no-guilt biodegradable disposable option for out-and-about (or those days when you haven't gotten around to doing the laundry).

Nursing Pads
Top: Posh Pads "Hooters"
Middle: Medela pads
Bottom: Lansinoh pads
I have had a big leakage problem for most of Ewan's first year.  It's getting better now, but I have a whole stack of reusable cotton nursing pads from Medela, Lansinoh, and Simplesse.  I recently bought one pair from Posh Pads and I love them too!

Thicker ones like the Simplesse are best for overnight, while the thinner Medela, Lansinoh, and Posh Pads are better for day wear.

To wash, I just throw them in the laundry with my clothes.

Menstrual Pads
Posh Pads Starter Kit
1 panty liner, 3 pads, and 1 overnight
Most disposable feminine products are no better than disposable diapers!  I have to admit that I have not used them yet, but I bought some Posh Pads for when my period returns.  (I'm pretty sure it's going to happen very soon since Ewan just turned 1.)

Another popular option is Glad Rags, but I like that Posh Pads are AIO (all-in-one).  Glad Rags are not.  Also, Posh Pads look more posh!

I'll give them a try and let you know.  I'm actually excited to be "on the rag" again.

2/28/2012 Update: My period returned in December after Ewan turned 18 months.  Since then, I've been using my reusable pads.  They are great!  When I was younger, I stopped using disposable pads in favor of tampons because pads made me feel icky and gross.  Because the cotton on the reusable pads is so breathable, I don't get that feeling of moisture being trapped at all!  Be aware that they have to be changed more often than the plastic-backed disposable pads.  Also, they require soaking after use to reduce staining, so I bought a small stock pot at Kmart for $15 to set next to the toilet.  I clean the pot with Bac-Out to kill bacteria.

Top: Cotton handkerchiefs
from the Men's section at Macy's
Bottom: Soft and fleecy
Gladrags organic cotton hankies

This is a real throw-back, but I have started using handkerchiefs instead of disposable tissue.  Basic cotton handkerchiefs are great for the occasional sneeze.  I bought men's handkerchiefs because I think a lacy women's handkerchief may look pretty but not will work very well.  The ones from Macy's men's department are really thin, which makes them fit in my purse or pocket well, but it makes them not so great if you have a cold and need to blow your nose alot.  Gladrags' hankies are thick and soft.  One side is fleeced!  Next time I have a cold, I'll be skipping the Kleenex and turning to the Gladrags' hankies.