Supply chain issues? Here are eco friendly product swaps that you can substitute for diapers, menstrual products, toilet paper, and more.
You might be worried about a supply chain issues. It seems like many products- from menstrual products to formula- are hard to find at the stores. I can’t help with formula, but there are so many eco friendly product swaps for products like menstrual products and toilet paper that you don’t need to panic about supply chain issues or rising prices.
I know many people don’t want to use some of the products under normal circumstances and that’s fine. But I am hoping to settle some minds about what they could do IF they ran out of those supplies. I hope this relieves your mind- and helps save you time, running from store to store trying to find hard-to-find products.
And I admit, I’m hopeful that temporarily using some of these eco friendly products will convince you to switch permanently… because some of these products are simply better for your body, better for the environment, and better for the future of humanity. I also feel like some of these supply chain issues are being created by companies to drive prices up so I like the idea of humans fighting back by finding other options. It balances demand and drives prices down- instead of up.
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Please read the whole post so you don’t miss any important information!
Not a doctor. Please consult with your doctor about any medical issues or concerns if needed.
Eco Friendly Swaps for Personal Care Products
What can I use if I run out of Paper Towels?
Many, many people use dishcloths instead of paper towels. You need to wash your laundry, but it’s not really a big job and laundry detergent hasn’t had any supply chain issues yet (and let’s pray it doesn’t- that one would be tricky, even for me).
I use dishcloths or “unpaper towels,” but if you don’t own either, it’s NO BIG DEAL. Head to your linen closet. Find old towels, old clothing, or old sheets that you aren’t using anymore. Cut them into squares and use them instead of paper towels. Some fabrics is more absorbent so items like towels are the best.
While you could toss them in the garbage after using them, I highly recommend washing and reusing them. I use a kitchen wet bag to store the dirty towels, then do one big wash once a week. Wet bags aren’t actually wet- they are bags where you can store dirty items, such as damp towels, without water leaking out.
When mine get too worn out for the kitchen, I use them for other dirtier jobs- ie. washing the car, or I use them one time to stain wood then toss them in the garbage (this is a trick of mine for staining quickly and saving money on buying paintbrushes).
What can I use if I run out of Hand Sanitizer?
I’ve seen a lot of DIY hand sanitizer recipes going around, but it’s not necessary.
Hand sanitizer isn’t an effective as my method, according to the CDC (and probably any qualified scientist or physician). It was really meant for use when you have NO OTHER OPTION.
What’s the magic swap? SOAP! HAND WASHING!
Hand washing is the most effective way to get rid of germs, provided you take the time to do it correctly.
While hand soap and body soap is obviously your #1 option, you likely have all different types of soap in your house. While they’re not made for your hands and can cause drying, they’ll do in a pinch. I often use dish soap for washing my hands (it’s very drying, but gets off grease better).
What can I use if I run out of Toilet Paper?
Humans survived FOREVER without toilet paper! We didn’t just start pooping in the 1857 when toilet paper was invented. So you’re in luck- other smart people have figured out a number of alternatives.
First, I would suggest trying to use LESS toilet paper to begin with. It’ll stretch your stash longer. You can use a scrap of fabric to wipe after pee and wash those scraps every few days. You can use less toilet paper by using a bidet sprayer to rinse after #2, then using a smaller bit of toilet paper to dry off. Learn about bidet sprayers.
Don’t want to invest in a bidet sprayer? You can fill a squirt bottle with water and use that to function as a bidet… it’s essentially same thing. People often use those bottles they give women at the hospital postpartum.
Once the toilet paper is GONE, you can still use the squirt bottle/bidet sprayer option for washing, then a rag or cloth wipe for drying. You can also use cloth wipes exclusively without the spray bottle- the spray bottle is purely to reduce how much “ick” you’re dealing with.
For cloth wipes, just like for dishcloths, ripping up old clothing or towels works well. Hand towels, particularly the kind for babies, are the right size.
Here’s a bit more information about using cloth wipes.
NOT keen on dealing with reusable products? You can use other types of paper products to wipe BUT DO NOT DISPOSE OF THEM DOWN THE TOILET. Even if they flush, you might be creating a VERY expensive plumbing problem. If you use another type of product, simply dispose of them like you would dog poop… tie them up in a plastic bag and put them in the trash.
I really recommend the reusable/washable option PURELY because the trash situation would get pretty yucky.
What can I use instead of DIAPERS?
Cloth diapers! But I wouldn’t rush out to buy some for a temporary supply chain issue. You’re probably going to be fine and if you don’t already use cloth diapers or plan to, it’s a wasted expense. But IF you ran out, you can simply use old towels, t-shirts, and more to fold around your baby to use as a diaper. There are tons of tutorials on how to fold a t-shirt to use as a diaper or other items.
Along this line, you can use wet fabric bits for reusable wipes.
However, if you want to give cloth diapers a try for a bit, this 6-pk of Alvababy diapers is pretty affordable and you could do frequent washes. Cloth diapers tend to retain some resale value so you can always resell them if you decide to swap back to disposable products. I used wet bags to store used cloth diapers until I washed the diapers.
You could also consider potty training or communication elimination (which I think looks like a PITA but I HATE potty training and would rather do laundry). You can simply clean up the messes the hard way.
What if I run out of MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS?
Just like diapers, we’re looking at folding cloth over to absorb the blood. It’s not a big deal to wash. There are lots of tutorials to explain how to save money in a situation where you can’t afford feminine products and using scrap linens is a great option. Again- they’re washable items so you can reuse them as long as needed.
I love using reusable cloth pads, but there’s also period panties, menstrual cups and menstrual discs. I have seen the Lena menstrual cups highly recommended and they can be worn for 12 hours. These menstrual cup steamers can steam clean and sanitize the cup for you between uses.
Another option that’s reportedly even more comfortable than the menstrual cups (which get rave reviews) is the menstrual disc. This is the Cora menstrual disc and they are supposed to be “self emptying” (compared to the cup which requires removing to empty).
Thinx period underwear are extremely comfortable considering how absorbent they are.
Any of these products are excellent to save money and improve your period. But period underwear, menstrual cups, and menstrual discs are probably the top recommended products if you want to forget you’re having your period (which is a lovely thought). Cloth pads still feel like you have a pad on. I’ve listened to other people with ADHD, however, say that they need to set reminders for themselves to remove these products because it’s easy to forget them.
The menstrual disc and menstrual cups are your only two options for swimming. There are some brands who advertise that they sell swim suits that absorb your period… ABORT MISSION. The swim suit cannot block water so therefore they’re only useful if you want to stay out of the water. Absorbent fabric will absorb water too. Just think about that for a minute.
Eco Friendly Swaps for Household Products
What can I use instead of animal bedding?
Guinea pig cage liners are an excellent swap for traditional bedding and they’ll save you a lot of money over time. These liners may work for other small pets as well, although you’ll want to watch out for animals who might chew on the edges (or the middle). I wonder if it would be possible to put them on a metal sheet so they’re tight, and add a border to hold them in place. If so, this might reduce the chance of chewing- but I haven’t seen this type of product before.
While I make my own liners, you can also buy cage liners on Amazon.
What can I use if I run out of Cleaning Wipes
I use the store cleaning wipes or baby wipes to wipe down the carts at the grocery store before shopping. It’s just good practice, even without the Coronavirus. The kids have picked up hand foot and mouth a couple of times from grocery carts so I am careful now.
Should those run out? It’s very easy to use cleaner and a rag to wipe down surfaces. You can carry cleaner with you and rags.
Run out of spray cleaner? You have two FANTASTIC choices:
- Soap and water.
- Steam! I love using a steam mop for my flooring and I also have a smaller steam cleaner for around the house. Steam is a fantastic option for killing germs (but don’t use it on your body obviously, it’ll burn you). You can use steam to clean countertops, door knobs, and many other surfaces.
What can I use instead of plastic wrap, Ziplock bags, or aluminum foil?
It depends on what you were using those products for, but there are some good alternatives for all three of these products.
- DIY Reusable Bowl Covers can be made to fit over a bowl or even a casserole dish.
- Glass bowls or casserole dishes often come with a plastic lid!
- DIY Beeswax wraps can also be used to cover bowls or to wrap sandwiches. These are also available to purchase in many stores now.
- Reusable snack bags are great, but reusable plastic or glass containers work just as well too!
What can I use instead of fertilizer for my garden?
Compost is THE BEST POSSIBLE OPTION for your garden. The process of composting is good for the environment and reduces how much trash you make. If you compost at home vs sending it to a composting center, you can cut out that middle man and save yourself money. Composting is the process of turning organic waste such as leaves, produce that’s gone bad, etc. into FANTASTIC soil.
I have several guides about composting, including:
- How to Compost: Beginner’s Guide
- Tumbler Bin Composting
- Open Bin Composting
- Worm Bin Composting (Vermicomposting)
Vermicomposting has been my best source of compost to date, but I find it difficult to keep the worms alive because Maryland seems to love being either SUPER HOT or TOO COLD.
There are small scale home composters that quickly process your compost, such as the Lomi and the Vitamix Food Cycler. These can fit on the counter or floor in your kitchen. You put in your food waste, turn it on, and the machine dries and cuts it up. The shredded dry product can be put directly in the garden. It’s quick and easy, it doesn’t smell, and it doesn’t take up much space. The downside is that it’s not as nutrient dense (in my opinion) as normal compost AND it is very small scale. It only fits so much compost. It also uses electricity.
Currently I’m working to setup a simple aerated static compost bin for horse manure because I compost on a MUCH larger scale than most people. This system skips the time-intensive turning that traditional composting uses. Instead you increase PVC pipe with holes in it through the compost bin, then you push air through the PVC pipe for 10 min each hour (again, electricity reliant). This helps speed up composting, however, so I’ll be able to process a large amount of waste quickly, and decrease the amount of flies on the farm (not to mention reduce the manure smell). Within 3 months, I should have usable compost for my garden.
Some animals produce “cold” manure which means the manure can be added directly to the garden. Rabbits and guinea pigs are two animals that make cold manure and their poo is FANTASTIC. People even sell rabbit poo to gardeners, and even though rabbit meat or rabbits as pets are a worthwhile thing to sell, rabbit poo is often the #1 money maker.
What about the LAUNDRY!?
But the LAUNDRY Danielle!?! I know, I know. I do a lot of laundry so it’s not really on the radar for me. And I KNOW some people don’t have a washer and dryer handy.
However, it is feasible to hand wash clothing or other items in an emergency in the bathtub. We even hand washed cloth diapers during a multi day power outage at our old condo. We line dried the items on our deck (the HOA complained but whatever). If you’re worried about the HOA, you can certainly dry indoors too.
Run out of laundry soap? You can use other types of soap for hand washing items (but not in your washing machine). Just make sure not to use too much.
Why are There Supply Chain Issues?
Supply chain issues back at the beginning of the pandemic made more sense. We had a lot of people home from work, people getting sick, issues transporting products, etc. It’s 2022 though so what’s wrong now? Honestly, I think there is a number of issues at play. I’ll try to keep it as non political as possible, but at this point, everyone thinks everything is political so…
#1: Labor Shortages
- People are still getting sick. Even with shorter quarantine times, this impacts production. And in low income jobs, people often go to work sick if they can. This causes the virus to spread to others on the same production line and can result in greater production issues. My aunt got sick mid-pandemic because a coworker came to work sick.
- Many companies have stopped giving paid time off for COVID.
- Fewer people wearing masks and a more contagious version of COVID means more illness spreading. We also have spent a decent amount of time away from germs so now we’re not only catching COVID, but we’re catching other things too.
- During the pandemic, companies laid off employees. Employees found other options for work.
- With the number of people dead or with long haul COVID, you have fewer people working. People who were higher risk retired early or simply decided the risk wasn’t worth it (ie. if you’re earning minimum wage and have expensive healthcare costs, staying home is likely cheaper than getting sick working, particularly if a healthier person in the home is able to make enough money to support the family).
- Childcare issue: While school is back in session, frequent school closures, illness, and daycares shutting down has made childcare an issue for so many parents. With the frequency that kids are home sick for 5+ days, it’s hard to find employers who are going to be happy with that.
- If the costs of childcare are greater than what a parent would earn going back to work, they may opt not to work.
- Younger people aren’t working at the rates they were when I was a kid. Even then, it was rare to see many teens working. They often don’t have the means to get back and forth to work (particularly if both parents worked), or they are trying to keep their grades up so they can get scholarships for college. Some places don’t WANT to hire kids under 18 either. It ends up being quite tricky. Add in the risk of getting sick? Is that $12/hr worth it? Maybe not.
#2: Bottlenecks in Production
During the pandemic production got backed up and bottlenecked. There are a lot of products delayed due to ONE missing piece of the product. Just as an example, there’s been a shortage of computer chips necessary to make electric cars and other electronics. There’s been increased demand for these chips at the same time supply decreased due to COVID. As a result, car companies have decreased production because they don’t have the chips to finish the cars.
Obviously this has trickle down effects for employees as well.
#3 Put*n is the Worst
I blame some of the supply chain issues on Put*n. What a jerk. Fertilizer is actually a big concern for the growing season as Russia produces a lot of the fertilizer that’s used around the world. But do I want to support Putin or his actions? Also no. So here we are.
Interested in OTHER items you can swap out to be more ecofriendly? Here’s my FAVORITE zero waste product swaps! I make a lot of ecofriendly products for myself and my family. It’s a ton of fun!
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