Every now and then I go on no-waste rampages through our house. Creating garbage makes me feel guilty and sad for this beautiful earth we’ve been blessed with. In our house, we compost, recycle everything we can, and utilize reusable shopping and produce bags for our trips to the store. One major blunder I hate to admit: We use disposable diapers. I know, I KNOW! With how fanatical I am about being earth friendly and keeping our garbage production to a minimum it should be top priority to switch to cloth diapers. It’s probably easier than I think it would be, but with all of the laundry I’m already doing, having to extra loads of stinky diapers kind of freaks me out. If I was a stay at home mom, I might consider it. Not like stay at home moms have all of this extra time on their hands, but they do have a bit more access to their wash machine than I currently do. For now, we use chlorine free disposable diapers on our baby girl.
Now that Lyla is feeding herself, meal time is super messy! Whether she’s using her fork and spoon or feeding herself with her fingers, she’s usually covered in food when she is done. Paper towels with some warm water have been our go-to for getting Lyla cleaned up. What a waste! I don’t like using paper towel in the first place, but I wanted to avoid cleaning my daughters face with wash clothes that have been used to scrub the counter top or dirty dishes. Ick. That’s why we’ve been using paper towel.
On a recent trip to Joann Fabrics (I’ve been there a lot lately!), I picked up a 5-pack of flannel fabric squares from a random bin for $5 (yay for coupons!). Using pinking shears (those zig zaggy cutting scissors), my Mom (thanks, Mom!) cut each fabric square into 4 smaller squares that measure just a bit smaller than a standard wash cloth.
Side note: Be sure to cut all sides of the fabric with the pinking shears! First time through, we did just the raw edges, thinking that the selvage edges would hold up to washing without fraying. Not so much. After they came out of the washer and dryer a little frayed up, I went back through and cut the selvage ends as well. Lesson learned.
Little known fact about me: I won the Family Living Award in high school. What does that actually mean, you ask? It means I took all of the cooking and sewing classes my high school offered and I know how to cook and sew. Okay honestly, the food classes…I was pretty good at. Sewing, not so much. But I tried. Aaaaaand haven’t touched a sewing machine since. So when my mom told me that surging the edges of the fabric would be the best way to prevent fraying, I made a scared looking face and opted for using the pinking shears instead. If you are comfortable with sewing, do it up with the surge machine! I’m a chicken.
Now we have soft and adorable pieces of flannel that are perfect for cleaning up even the messiest baby face. Unlike paper towel, I can rinse and re-wipe Lyla’s face with the same cloth instead of reaching for more paper towel. Plus, they are gentler on her dry, wintery skin.
If you can, purchase organic fabric. Cotton is a crop that is sprayed heavily with pesticides! If you can’t find organic cotton, consider adding a cup of white vinegar to the water in your wash machine when you clean the pieces of fabric for the first time. This will remove some of the chemicals used in growing the cotton and producing the fabric.
Happy baby face, happy environment, happy mama!
What do you do in your home to cut down on paper waste?
February 8, 2013 Update
Sooo…the first few washes of these cloths turned out fine. Now that they’ve been run through the wash machine a few more times, they are starting to fray and leave little shreds of thread on the rest of my laundry. No bueno. Because of this, I recommend surging the edges of these cloths so they stay intact. Does anyone know of a better alternative to solving this problem?
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