Reusing items makes sense, not just for your bank balance, but also for your health and for the earth. It can save you time and is a great starting point on your journey to self-sufficient living. In addition, I’ve found reusing things to just be far more practical than having to rely on single-use alternatives.
That’s what this blog series is all about – small steps to greater self-sufficiency, and it all starts in the home.
There are lots of little tasks throughout this series. If you’re reading this series once all the blog posts are live, don’t try and do them all in a day! Just pick the one or two that appeal to you most and start with those. Once you have them squared away, try a different one.
By the time you’ve gone through and implemented these tasks, you’ll find that:
- You won’t be racing to the shops for items you’ve run out of which you once thought were a necessity.
- You’ll be more independent of the shops and more in control of your life.
- You’ll enjoy the benefits associated with a simpler way of life.
- You’ll save money on reusing an item hundreds of times, where previously a single-use item was require.
Let’s get started!
Things to change in the kitchen
There are some great alternatives to single-use baking paper. My personal favourite is butter wraps.
To use block butter wraps, you just need to lay them inside your baking tin with the butter side facing the food (printed side down). Some dishes need three or more, but they stay together really well.
Another option is reusable baking sheets or trays. I was gifted with two reusable baking sheets over 10 years ago and they are still going strong.
I use them for baking anything that uses a tray and use block butter wrappers to line cake tins and quiche dishes.
Apart from the monetary savings associated with ditching limited-use baking paper, you’ll enjoy the freedom of knowing that you aren’t reliant on the supermarket for a staple baking item.
Tip: Also think about investing in some quality silicone patty pan trays, as these eliminate the need for paper patty pans.
Switching from disposable dish cloths to the hardy reusable kind is seriously easy and inexpensive.
Most disposable kitchen wipes brands are made to last a couple of weeks at most. If you wash them in the machine, they perish much more quickly.
Make the switch from these flimsy wipes to cotton, bamboo or microfibre wipes that are designed to be washed regularly.
This is much more hygienic than using something for a few weeks before throwing it away.
I use one for washing little faces and the other for wiping benches. I then throw them both in the washing basket at the end of the day.
A few options for this task…
1. Cut up old PJs and give them a hem.
2. Make your own using bamboo terry, microfibre or cotton terry.
3. Support a local small business and invest in a high quality set of bamboo or cotton wipes.
• Home made bowl covers. We made ours (pictured) using this tutorial.
• Manufactured reusable food wraps, available now from most eco-focussed shops.
If you use foil, use up what you have left and remove it from the shopping list. You won’t be needing this either! Your foil alternatives include:
• For flat baking, use your baking sheets.
• For wrap baking (ie, wrapping fish), use butter wraps.
• Baked potatoes don’t need to be wrapped in foil. Just pierce the skin with a fork and pop it on the middle rack in your oven.
If you use foil to cover your vegetables while they’re baking, try using a baking dish with a glass lid. If you don’t have a baking dish with a lid, just do what I do, and use another similar sized dish on top.
I still have a roll of both plastic wrap and aluminium foil in my pantry which are the same rolls I’ve had for over a year – these are used exclusively to cover meals that we give away, but I’d love your ideas for what to do instead once these run out. Let me know in the comments 🙂
For a while, I thought that paper towel wasn’t 100% replaceable. I still kept a roll of paper towel on hand for soaking up the fat/oil from barbecued meat, but we used one sheet every couple of weeks, so one roll lasted about a year.
Still, I was determined to find an alternative, and I’m happy to report that a stainless steel drip tray works fabulously for this task.
For every other task you thought you needed paper towel for, you absolutely can replace it with “un-paper” towel.
If you have paper towel in the cupboard, set it aside for those occasions when you need to soak fat from a food, and then set to work creating reusable kitchen towels.
We used this tutorial to make ours (pictured), but if you’re not much of a sewer, you can use face washers, hand towels, tea towels or terry flats.
The idea is to have a dedicated stash of these in your kitchen, close to where you’ll need them, so that you reach for them instead of the paper towel.
There you have it – 4 super simple and practical reusable alternatives to single-use kitchen items. Are you doing any (or all!) of these? If not, which will you start with this week?
Be sure to check back next week for the next instalment in my reusable home series.