Greener Living

Reusable Toilet Paper and 4 More Alternatives to Hard-to-Find Items During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Having trouble finding toilet paper and paper towels? Anxious about finding enough diapers or baby wipes?

The COVID pandemic has forced a lot of significant changes in our daily lives in a really short time, and the weekly trip to the grocery store has dramatically changed as well. You stand in line outside, stay on high alert to maintain social distance and not touch your face, and once you get in, you’re faced with aisle after aisle of disappointingly empty shelves.

Maybe now is a good time to consider switching some of your usual disposable items for their reusable alternatives!

Buy once, and when you run out, just throw in a load of laundry so you can stay home and avoid unnecessary trips to the store. No lining up outside hoping to be early enough to get supplies. No fighting other shoppers over a package of toilet paper. No stalking Amazon for new stock. Best of all, switching to reusable options will save money and reduce your environmental footprint.

Toilet Paper

Stay with me here. It’s entirely possible to use cloth wipes, sometimes called “family cloth”, in place of toilet paper. You can use small washcloths, cloth squares, or even cut up strips of old t-shirts to wipe “down there”. If you’re concerned about cleanliness, consider installing a handheld bidet sprayer on your toilet then using the wipe to dry yourself. When you think about it, that’s actually a whole lot cleaner than smearing things around with paper.

Users report that cloth is gentler, cleaner, and doesn’t leave little bits of paper stuck on your delicate areas. In case you were wondering, most people still use regular toilet paper for #2, but switching to cloth even just for pee saves a whole lot of trees, water, and energy. And if you’re on a septic system, an added benefit is that you can go longer between pumping out the tank.

To use family cloth, just leave a small covered bucket or zippered wet bag in the bathroom. Throw the used cloth in, then wash every couple of days. There’s no special care or detergent required.

Paper Towels

Since toilet paper is so hard to come by, I’ve heard that some people are using paper towels instead. While that’s certainly a (pricier) option, I really hope you’re not flushing them!

I’ve noticed paper towels are also getting hard to find though though, so what can you do? Well, cloth towels or “unpaper” towels are a really simple switch. Use these for wiping down your kitchen table and counters, cleaning the stove top, drying your hands, cleaning the fridge, and many other tasks you’d normally use single-use paper towels for.

Reusable Diapers

Lots of people are considering cloth diapers now that disposable diapers are sometimes hard to find. One cloth diaper can replace more than 250 disposable diapers. That’s a lot fewer trips to the grocery store and a lot less trash in the landfill. Did you know disposable diapers take up to 500 years to biodegrade, compared to 6 months for cloth?

Depending on which cloth diapering system you use, you can pay as little as $100-$150 for 12-20 prefold diapers or economy pocket diapers, enough to diaper your baby for two days before you need to wash. Just throw on a load of laundry when you get low. No more emergency trips to the store, plus cloth diapers are just so much cuter than disposables!

Baby Wipes

Switching from disposable baby wipes to reusdable cloth wipes is an easy swap. Cloth wipes are more cost-effective, create less waste in the landfill, and keep irritating soaps and chemicals away your baby’s delicate bottom.

Cloth does a much better job at cleaning than disposable baby wipes. The fabric “grabs” the mess and makes clean-ups so much easier. They’re also much better at keeping your hands clean. Disposable wipes are so thin, they don’t offer anywhere near as much protection. Wash cloth wipes with your cloth diapers or on their own with hot water.

For the record, cloth wipes are also fabulous for wiping sticky hands at dinner and cleaning up messes in the car so you’ll get plenty of use out of these even after your baby is out of diapers.

Pads and Tampons

This quarantine is likely to go on for far longer than any of us would like, and many of us will need to deal with at least a couple of periods or more in that time. You could run to the store and hope they have what you need in stock. Or you could switch to menstrual products that you can clean at home and reuse. I’ve been using menstrual cups and cloth pads for years and I’d never go back to disposable products.

When you switch to reusable menstrual options, you never have to worry about running out of pads or tampons again. You’ll save time, money, and stop an average of 250 to 350 pounds of period-related waste from going to the landfill.

Clockwise from top left: Ruby Cup reusable menstrual cup, Intimina Ziggy menstrual disc, and Öko Créations reusable cloth pads.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

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