I am living on paper products I bought ten or more years ago. I used to buy Christmas themed paper towels by the caseload until big box stores got wise and limited their supply.
There’s probably about three dozen rolls of paper towel left in my stockpile, yet I haven’t opened a new package in years. The reasons are threefold.
• Whenever we get takeout, there are always extra napkins in the bag.
• I have a stockpile of fancy paper napkins I bought on sale and currently using up.
• We use cloth napkins for meal time, and rags for cleaning.
I’ve been hunting cloth napkins at garage sales for years without much luck. Most of the time they’re way too expensive, but recently I hit on two yard sales back to back where brand new napkins were going for pennies. I don’t think I spent more than two dollars for over 20 nice cloth napkins–still new in their packages.
If you want to be even more frugal, you can make your own napkins from cloth remnants. I have a dexterity-deficit in the sewing department so I’d rather buy them pre-made.
When you consider how much you spend on paper towels/napkins in a year, it pays to consider alternatives. I haven’t priced paper towels in a long time but I’m sure they’re appreciably more expensive than the 50 cents a roll I used to pay. (And after Christmas I used to get them for 75% off that price.)
It takes a little retraining with the family, but once you start it’s easy to keep the momentum going. Here are a few tips to get started.
• Have at least four times the napkins you think you’ll use in a day so you have time to throw them in the laundry later in the week.
• Don’t get fancy. You want good, absorbent cotton in colors that won’t run in the washer, and won’t wrinkle in the dryer.
• If it’s just the two of you, you can do as you please, but with little kids, you might want to give each kid his own set of napkins in a particular color or pattern so they know it’s theirs.
• The only time I insist on paper over cloth is if the food is greasy. You guru-cleaners out there won’t mind, but I’m too lazy to spot check every napkin.
Paper or cloth for you? Do you know what you spend on paper towels in a month? In a year?
I was going to call this post: Too Cheap for Paper, Switching to Cloth but I wasn’t sure anyone would catch the reference to the movie. Can you guess the movie?