Freebies often equal clutter

Yesterday’s mini mission got me thinking that it has been a while since I wrote a post on the subject of freebies and it’s about time I did.

Who can’t resist a freebie? It isn’t everyday that someone offers you something for nothing and it’s like getting a gift right? Well unfortunately like many gifts the freebie is often something you don’t really need and it soon becomes clutter. One advantage a freebie has over a gift though is that it isn’t usually given to you by a loved one so refusing it isn’t going to hurt anyones feelings. That being so, I would suggest doing just that, politely refuse the offer unless it is something you have a use for or is something you can sell on immediately for a profit. Of course if it is instantly consumable like chocolate or a latte or it is a pampering freebie like a massage or manicure, go for it.

Here are some examples of freebies that normally ought to be refused if you don’t need them or already have of enough of them.

    • Those reusable shopping bags. If you already have enough of them you don’t need excess.
    • A free razor handle with new replacement cartridges. Those handles rarely if ever wear out so you don’t need more.
    • Toiletries bags on long-haul flights. Bring you own minimal amount of toiletries in your hand luggage. Wth any luck the airline will reuse the untouched samples. I hope so anyway because the amount of waste involved in those freebies does my head in.
    • Sample bags from trade conferences. Usually 90% of what is in those bags are useless to you ~ pamphlets you can access on-line, stress balls, keychains etc. Perhaps these companies will respond to supply and demand ~ that is if people keep refusing them they will adjust how many to supply in response, saving the planet from all that waste.
    • Plastic shopping bags are usually free when you purchase something but those bags are just pollution. Their manufacturing causes pollution and the bag itself becomes pollution once its purpose is achieved ~ usually the minute you get it home. Take your own bag it really isn’t that hard or inconvenient. I don’t know many women who don’t take a handbag when they go shopping. A little reusable fold up shopping bag will fit easily into most handbags.
    • Those little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion and small soaps that are supplied at motels. I have no qualms about using the soap because a cake of soap is messy and bulky to carry. But the other items are more pollution than they are product and usually not good product. By all means use them if you find them suitable but don’t be tempted to bring the unused ones home, once again adding to supply and demand and cluttering up your bathroom cabinet.
    • Free newspaper or magazine subscriptions. If you don’t already read these publications it is unlikely you are going to find them any more interesting just because they are free. Not to mention the fact that many of these offers don’t automatically cancel and if you forget to cancel them before the free offer expires you will then find yourself paying for them.
    • The freebie box at garage sales. If the stuff in this box was worth selling it would have a price on it so the chances are it is just clutter about to happen.
How many of the items that you have decluttered from your home were either free or cheap. Gifts, freebies, items picked up from the side of the road, samples, garage sales finds, bargains too good to refuse, thrift shop finds… So often the major attraction to these items is the price and not the item themselves. If you wouldn’t buy them for full price at the store then you most likely don’t need them and they will quickly become clutter. Do yourself a favour and don’t bring them into your house in the first place.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something you received as a gift but have never used.

Today’s Declutter Item

These handkerchiefs are pretty and the lady who gave them to me is a beautiful soul but the fact is I don’t use handkerchiefs so there isn’t any point in keeping them. Although it is better for the environment to use these rather than tissues I find fabric to be harsh on my skin.

Pretty Handkerchiefs

Something I Am Grateful For Today

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Oooohh, the wicked temptation of the freebie. You’d have to be insane to pass on a freebie, wouldn’t you? I caused some surprise in a thrift store where a group of volunteers were sitting with their sewing machines running up shopping bags from remnants and just handing them out to people. They were fine bags, and it was a lovely way of encouraging the use of reusables, but I already have a plentiful supply of similar bags. Ditto with you on airline stuff and hotel freebies. I can’t get over a visceral horror at the waste of materials and take my own and leave the hotel/ airport stuff untouched. I once was foolish and nearly buried myself under tiddly little plastic toiletry bottles before I saw the light.

    The cleaning guru and decluttering writer Don Aslett wrote about the price of free in one of his books. It was the itemised list of expenditures incurred by an American lady who accepted the gift of a free mule to live on her country place. It was a LONG list and the vetinary bills were only a part of it. Lots of things which came to us freely end up costing us something which is more precious than money; our time, life and energy.

    • Good points GreyQueen. This comment is going straight to Friday’s Favourite. “…the price of free…” those few words make a statement all be themselves ~ the cost being time, energy (mental and physical), space, the effect on the environment and sometimes on going cost… the list could probably go on.

      • I got my second cat “free,” which was NOT a better deal that paying $150 at the Humane Society. By the time Ash had his shots, check ups, etc. he cost well over the $150 that the Humane Society charges, plus I had to run him to the vet a couple of times, rather than it being taken care of in-house. (On the other hand, he’s an awesome cat, so in that way , he was well worth it.)

  2. I probably should wait for more comments before I say that. But I actually dont think freebies are that evil. Actually there are items that I dont buy by principle because you get them as freebies. like usb-sticks or pens (really who buys pens?), or keychains (I am currently waiting for a pretty one to appear).
    its murphy’s law: as soon as you need freebies, you dont get them anymore. But if you just bought a new set of lighters two minutes ago, the marlboro merch girl comes around the corner…

    • Hi Lena,
      there is nothing wrong with freebies if they are something you need, I have no qualms about that. Quite often though they are offered in a flash before you have time to consider whether you need them or not ~ the main attraction being the free part ~ and so accept them on face value and all they end up being is clutter and worse still pollution.

      In the end how many usb-sticks, pens and keychains does one need.

      • pens are like lighters. they come and go without any order whatsoever. So whenever I have the chance, I grab pens. I dont really steal them, but I take them when offered. same with lighters. although since they have a place to live (bowl under the coffee table) I am less likely to run out of.
        I guess I never really was a freebie person then. because I wouldnt take if I dont need it, and stuff that comes in unannounced gets decluttered right away. mainly because I refuse to play along. they would have to pay me if they want me to make promotion that way. I am not a living advert sign.

        • Good for you Lena, only take free what you have a use for. I love what you said ~ “I am not a living advert sign.” ~ I refuse to buy clothes that blatantly have the makers brand as part of the design because I am not a living advert either. If they want me to advertise for them they can give me their clothes. I wouldn’t be seen dead in something that said Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister from what I have seen of these brands they look like rags before you even buy them. Not that I have anything against the deconstructed look but theirs are often poorly made and of inferior fabric. Now I’m ranting, best leave it at that.

  3. I think the “would I buy it”-rule works best (Even or maybe especially for frugalistas). You have to remember though to take numbers into account, too.

  4. There has been more than one occassion where I have won a door prize and then said, “Thank you very much, please draw another name because I don’t need that.” Oh the shocked looks! “But it’s free?!” they say confused. I insist that I really am grateful, but I think it would be better appreciated by someone else, and leave the befuddled gift giver behind.


    • I have also done this creative me. That being said, I won a meat tray at the local club a couple of weeks ago and it has saved me a whole lot at the grocery store. I barely had enough room in the freezer for it all but I removed the ice bucket and it fit nicely. There are certain freebies worth saying yes to. There was one piece of meat on the tray that I didn’t want so I gave it to a friend. The only drawback of the entire situation was that the meat did in fact come on a tray ~ a big ugly styrofoam tray that had to go in the trash ~ not happy about that.

  5. Freebies! Oh, wow! My Dad was so into freebies. He’d buy something he thought we could use just because “freebies” came with it. Ugh! We had so many things just sitting around that were freebies. Most of them didn’t last long and were junk. The only freebie I ever got that was useful was a golf umbrella from a software vender at a computer conference. I still have that thing. It’s great for when you have to be out in the sun or rain for very long because it covers you up. I don’t take the hotel, airline, makeup counter, etc. freebies because I don’t like them. I can’t deal with the smells. Otherwise I might use them instead of bringing my own. I’ve turned down things or taken them and then given them away before. I won a $20 Starbucks gift card as a doorprize one time and I don’t drink coffee so gave it to someone who does. I’ve even done that at scrapbook places. My friends think I am nuts.

    • Well I don’t think you are nuts Deb J. Your Starbucks card reminds me of another good freebie. My son bought me a membership to The Coffee Club a chain of cafes here in Australia. It cost $20 but every time I buy a coffee there I get one free which works out well for both me and my friend Amber. We go together and split the bill. I have only had it since February and we would have saved at least $30 by now and there are still nine months to go.

      On the other hand if one more store offers me another reusable shopping bag I think I will scream.

      • thats a nice gift. My birthday is coming up in june and I am thinking about telling my family how to handle gifts this year, and a membership on something like that is actually not too bad.

        I never got a reuseable shopping bag offered. but then I dont go shopping that much either…

      • Now that’s a good freebie. I enjoy getting “2 for one” things like that.

  6. Wow, just goes to show that everyone is different. I use linen and fine cotton handkerchiefs because they are easier on my skin (around my nose) than the harsh fibers of tissues. The other benefits, to me, are that they don’t shred as I use them; if I forget one in a pocket, it doesn’t mess up the load of laundry; they are reusable and long lasting; they can be dampened and used to wash little people’s faces (and big peoples too); and lastly, to me, they are so pretty and feminine. But, I don’t think less of anyone who doesn’t like them, they’re just my preference.

    • I like handkerchiefs better, too. I got the biggest part of my collection at a thrift store though, so I guess, Colleen’s have a good chance now to find a happy buyer soon.

    • Hi Rozann, firstly I just wanted to say welcome to 365 Less Things even though I can see you have been here before you must have slipped in under Cindy’s watch so this is the first time I have noticed you. How remiss of me.

      I only buy good quality tissues with aloe vera, they cost more but they are the only ones that don’t rub my nose raw when I get hay fever. Being expensive also encourages me to be sparing with how many I use. I used to use handkerchiefs all the time when I was younger but my skin get more irritable as I age. I feel guilty using tissue because it isn’t good for the environment but I make up for it in so many other ways.

      You know that has me thinking ~ What if I bought some very fine microfibre clothes. They would be kind to my nose and better for the environment. I am going to look into that. Thank you for getting me thinking.

      • Oh you don’t find the microfibre (normal, not super fine) sort of catch on the dry skin on your hands…? I couldn’t handle that feeling on a sore nose!

        • Good point, I will have to try and see how it turns out.

          • This may be too much clutter for some people, but I cut up my husband’s old white cotton undershirts to use for rags. The other day when I had a cold, I sneezed while standing near the stack of rags. I grabbed one and blew my nose and it was very soft and absorbent. (I almost enjoyed the experience after having a raw nose from all the facial tissues I had been using.) I routinely bleach the rags when I wash them so they should be safe to use again. They aren’t pretty, but oh so soft!

            • Hi Clawmom and welcome to 365 Less Things. Yours is vote two for t-shirt hankies, there might be something in this. I will remember that the next time a t-shirt wears out around her.

  7. Dare I mention that I picked up a desk for free on the street just the other day?

    That’s when I don’t come round to get rid of bulky clutter like furniture…
    However, SO FAR I really like it. 😉

    Getting rid of my small stuff is going so-so. So far, I made a plus of 5,90€ (expenses for renting that shelf included) in that shop. I just hope, I’ll sell some more, as there is really A LOT in those shelves and I don’t want to bring it home again.

    • I just passed by a really cute drawer down the corner. I resisted the temptation… I got chocolate instead. congrats on the new desk, I hope he is worth it 😉

      are you happy with your income so far? how are you renting? I am still hoarding my decluttered stuff at home, because they ask 5€ a week, and I think that is a bit expensive as I dont have that much stuff, and the hassle of bringing it there and then not knowing if you can actually get the money in again, puts me off somehow.

      • Wow, my rent is higher, it’s 8€ a week if you sign for 4 weeks (but I got two shelves for that price instead of one). I made 28,50 in the first week (19 of those were books bought by the same person at the same day, so lucky me) and 9,40 in the second week. So, if you don’t count that one book collector, it’s just a tiny little bit more than the rent.
        I think, it works best with things that are bought quickly and appeal to many people: relatively cheap books, CDs, DVDs. I also sold a slightly used blush and eye shadows (offered for 20 cents each) and the shop owner told me that costume jewelry also sells very fast. Just those things that almost anyone can just quickly pick up, because he or she thinks “oh well, you always have a need for xxx”. I also put sewing thread and some cups and plates there, a pair of shoes and clothes, but none of those sold so far. I guess, it’s harder to find someone for clothes, as they not only have to please but also fit the potential buyer. Same goes for the clarinet reeds I brought there: you need a clarinet player passing by (not that likely, I guess).
        Okay, I sold a tiny reel of black thread (30 cents) and a portable CD player as well.
        The main part were books and CDs.
        Also, antiques hunters seem to frequent that shop, but there’s not really an antique I have to sell.

        I think, it really depends. If it wasn’t just around the corner from my apartment (even closer than the thrift store) I don’t know whether I’d have taken the effort. I pass that shop almost daily, every time I go to the bakery or the supermarket or the park and can check easily how it’s going and whether I can bring something new in. I think, though, that if you have a nice stack of books or CDs or DVDs you will get the money in again. I guess, it’s more of a risk, if you put one item for 30 euros in there and wait for a buyer than if you put 30 items for 1 euro each in. You won’t sell all, more likely about 5-10% in one week, I think.

        • Okay, maybe 20 percent, if you’re lucky…

        • cool. thanks for your answer. that helps.
          in our shop the size of the shelfes and also the location of those can vary, and its a huge old warehouse and a lot of stuff in there. but they have a section just for clothes and that is a well frequented area, at least the one time I was there… the guy who worked there was super busy, so I havent had the chance to ask questions. I guess I will wait a bit and maybe collect a few books from my mother so that I can bring those in as well. I do have a big collection of CDs, and some DVDs (although some of them are danish/english), but I also have kitchen stuff, which is in good shape. maybe I can try to sell my strange bathroom make-up thingies in there too. I need to go and have another look and ask the guy how it works. and then check out what I can bring maybe also from my mums place. and then I guess I have to organize a car… argh. I am a bit jealous that you have yours right next door, that would be so convenient.

    • Sanna,
      one advantage of a secondhand freebie I suppose is that if it doesn’t work out to be useful there is no financial loss to you or environmental impact so just put it back out on the street where it came from. Although it can become a hassle if no one takes it and then you have to find another way to dispose of it.

  8. Two thoughts….

    If the hotel’s toiletries are a good brand (Four Seasons uses L’occitane products, Disney uses H2O products), I use them. If not, I always pack a selection to bring home and donate to our local homeless shelter/food bank.

    Here in the states, many hotels (like Disney) participate in “Clean the World”, which sanitizes and repackages used toiletrie bottles/soaps for distribution to persons in countries lacking these necessities. It is quite remarkable.

    Woops-here’s a third thought. Love your mini missions. One of mine each week is to eliminate one “What was I thinking when I purchased this?” item. We all have them. Whether it is a lipstick, nail polish, article of clothing, knick-knack etc.

    • oh good one! I will keep that in mind 😉

    • Hi Kimberley,
      I must admit better brands would be harder to resist. I like that some hotels recycle the bottles (I was not aware of this) but I can’t help but think if they used the dispenser option instead there would be a lot less waste. The ratio of plastic to product disturbs me even if these companies are donation them to the poor.

      I love you mini mission idea I think I will use that one this coming Monday. I think I will make it a set of humorous mini mission with similar amusing questions. I am sure I can come up with seven. I would only have to look up some of my past clutter photos to inspire the imagination.

      • Colleen, many moons ago, I made hangar tags for my now 30 year old daughter and I that say, “What was I thinking?”. We each, myself here in Hawaii and my daughter in Florida, keep one crazy clothing item on this hangar in our closets to remind us not to make the same mistake. Mine is a denim/red gingham checked casual dress, purchased 15 years ago, that I thought would be fun for picnics, however, I look like a picnic when I wear it, haha! The list can be endless….have fun with it.

        • What a funny thing to do Kimberly. I am now having vision of you going to a fancy dress party in that dress with a child’s plastic picket set ~ cup, plates, sandwiches etc ~ stuck to it. I have already written most of the missions for Monday and yes I am having fun with it. thanks

    • Hahaha yep we all have them I call them ‘WHAT THE’S’ 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. With hotel shampoos, I used to visit the same hotel weekly (for work), and so I took the bottle the first time, and brought it back every week til it was used up. Took FOREVER! But saved the ‘new’ ones getting touched (in each new room) and taking a big bottle back and forth.

    Creative me – It’s like me with raffles, if I don’t like the prizes I just ‘donate’ and don’t take tickets (so I don’t have the awkward hand back!)

    I was reading zerowastehome and she was endorsing handkerchiefs, but with the cold I’ve had, I’d need at least 100! I mean I don’t wash that often, so I’d need a stockpile for a week’s worth of cold. I hate filling my bin and landfill with tissues, I just can’t see a viable alternative.

    • Well done Snosie, that strategy I can approve of. You could also keep the first bottle and continue to fill it up at home.

      I use your raffle tactic with people selling pin, and things for ANZAC day, daffodil day, SIDs etc.Make the donation and leave the merchandise.

      • Oh, I do this. When a pal was fundraising for a charity there were rubber wristbands in return for your donation. I’m not into wearing coloured strips of rubber around my wrists as evidence I donated so just gave her the money and insisted she keep the band. For such a simple and sensible thing, it’s amazing how much confusion it causes.:)

        • When I did this once with some high school kids collecting at the local shopping centre they were so grateful, as if the little trinket they were offering was actually worth something.

    • Compost them they break down pretty quickly and you won’t have mountains of used tissues filling your bin! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Hi Dizzy it isn’t the degrading of them but the manufacturing of them in the first place that is the problem. It is good when things are biodegradable or recyclable but better if we can avoid them being manufactured at all altogether. consider the amount of raw product, energy, transport and water involved in the manufacturing process of a box of tissues.

    • I own about a dozen handkerchiefs and they bring me through 99% of the year. But if there’s a flu or a bad cold, I buy a box of tissues – it’s usually empty afterwards. I’d just lie in bed with that box right beside me.

      • Sanna, this is exactly what I do as well. I used to buy tissues all the time but now I just hold out until I get a wicked cold or sinus thing. I have really grown to like having hankies instead of tissues for the day to day sniffles. The downside is my husband poking fun at my “little old lady hankies”. But I retort with his “old geezer 20-in-1 pocket knife thing” he carries around everywhere.

        • Sanna/Jane/handkerchiefs: Exactly!
          Now I just need to remember to have a cloth one with me all the time. Not too good at it yet. But I rarely ever forget my shopping totes (anymore) so I guess it just as well is just a matter of getting used to the new way.

        • Hi Jane,
          my hubby wouldn’t poke fun at little old lady hankies because he is actually the hankie user in this house. He has one in his pocket no matter where he goes. I often get caught out and have to borrow his. Just another little trait he is useful for.♥

  10. Today I am going to do a freebie and a gift. Was given a sample bag each (myself and daughters) from hairdressers as they had mucked up our appointments – tried very hard to say no but they were so apologetic that in the end I took them just to make them feel better.

    Older daughter opened hers as some of the products were useful to her and she was travelling a week later. But the other two remain sitting on my desk and every week I think I must do something about those.

    Was going to put it in the bag to go goodwill, but have decided that I might just take them back to the hairdressers and explain we haven’t used it and someone else might enjoy it more.

    The other thing – unwanted gift. Dates back to 1992! Wedding gift, given by my hubby’s best friend’s mother. Two battenburg lace pillowcases. Never used because they were too good to use, and to be honest not really my thing, although that sort of thing was enjoying a revival at the time. I found them recently and I couldn’t bring myself to send to goodwill – no offence against goodwill shoppers, but I want these to go to someone who actually wants battenburg pillowcases specifically, rather simply a bargain pillowcase. I know that sounds uppidity but there is a part of me that wants her gift to be enjoyed as she would have hoped it would be. I’m going to put on trademe as I see similar items there that have been bid on, we won’t get a lot, but it might buy hubby and I lunch or a bottle of wine. I figure anyone who actually types in “battenburg lace” must actually be an admirer or collector.

  11. Oh the irony! I hope the people and places I dispose of my clutter at do not read this! Thankfully there will always be someone who loves free stuff and can handle the never ending flow of it!

    • Hi Wendy, that thought did cross my mind as I wrote the post. I figured all the advice I give is to help those who don’t want a house full of clutter, for those who do they are welcome to my stuff.

      • Yes Colleen! Everyone is very welcome to take my clutter!
        I wonder if there is a 365 More Things Blog out there in a parallel universe?

        • that question got me thinking: so I googled a bit around and found far too many sites made by collectors for other collectors. even with gift guides for collectors. like you would need one. that was a bit spooky.
          I wonder so often what could happen to our items that we get rid of…

        • Ha ha Wendy, what a scary thought, some freakshow out there crazier than me telling people to gather up other peoples stuff. The mind boggles.

  12. The Other Lynn

    My mom has a stash of hotel soaps from when she traveled a lot. She never used them, and have been sitting for some time. When I was visiting recently, I used a recipe I found online to make them into liquid soap. I barely made a dent in her stockpile, and made her a gallon of soap for her dispensers. Next year, I’ll do it again, and we should be done with it in a few years!! As for hankies, I have cut up old tshirts and put them in a diaper wipes container. They are soft, get thrown into the kids’ dirty laundry, and I don’t care if I toss one or two if they are really gross. I use them for small spills, too.

  13. Well, I have to get on the bandwagon for this tissue discussion! 🙂

    I like old linen napkins to use as hankies. The hankies are so small and the old linen napkins have more space to ‘fill’er’up’ (especially during hay fever season!). As they age, they are plenty soft and don’t hurt my skin (but Colleen I so understand your dilemma!!!!). Once a friend told me she cut up old diapers to use as hankies (good absorbency, easy to wash, etc). 🙂

    Ooaayy, what a topic!

    As for freebies, we just received one in the mail today (in the form of note cards complete with envelopes). The design was not to our liking, so they made it to the thrift store box by the side of the door to go out on our next adventure. Really what I need to do is write to that organization and have our name and address taken off their mailing list! Hey, I’ll use one of their note cards!!! Wowsa, what a grand idea! 🙂

    • Hi Annabelle,
      linen napkins are an idea but I don’t own any. I did find a large microfibre polishing cloth that I have cut into quarters that I am going to try. One is in my pocket right now.

      I am so glad we don’t get any of those charity “freebies” in our mail box. I don’t give anyone my address and our phone number is unlisted and we lived out of the country for so long that we aren’t on anyone’s list. Yay!

  14. I’d like to see if a study has been done comparing tissues and handkerchiefs from an environmental point of view (it’s been done with cloth vs disposable diapers). I do all my laundry in cold water, and live in a place with plenty of pulp and paper but not abundant water. I bet using tissues is a better option FOR ME than heating water for washing and using electricity to iron hankies. Elsewhere the reverse might be true.
    I take the occasional hotel shampoo because I’m in the habit of buying generic brands in large quantities and I enjoy a tiny luxury sometimes. Most other free stuff I’m pretty good at refusing despite the incredulous looks you get when you say, “No thank you.”

    • I wonder whether there are studies about a lot of those sorts of comparison ~ dishwashers v hand washing, showers v baths, home cooking v takeout (healthy of course), public transport v owner driver. It all seems very cut and dry, especially the public transport one but there are so many variable that aren’t obvious to take into account. The trouble with tissues as I said to Dizzy is the raw product, energy, transport and water used in the production of paper but then as you say they don’t need washing and ironing.

      • Yes, I find that the surveys I read on topics like that never answered my real question. E.g. washing dishes: I usually store water in the sink and wash my dishes there once or twice a day – but all surveys I found on that topic assumed that you wash your dishes under rinsing water with lots of detergent – which simply isn’t the case here.

        • Hi Sanna, and to top it off the creators of these surveys are usually stacking the deck, so to speak, to get the response results they want, not necessarily the facts.

          • Before recycling was so common, these studies were called “Cradle to grave”, meaning they considered everything from the creation to its burying. Now they’re refered to as “Cradle to cradle” meaning from creation to recycling and re-creation. Like everything, you have to take the results with a grain of salt and consider your own circumstances. For example, disposable diapers are the best product (don’t die of a heart attack!) for a one-child family living in a dry climate, but cloth might be better for a 3-child family where water is abundant. I’m always shocked when my friends in the mountains wash their dishes under running water, but they are using untreated water from their own well. Here on the prairies we have less water and it is heavily treated so we use our dishwasher every three days. No one solution fits all. You just do your best.

            • So true Wendy. Sadly I don’t thing there are very many mothers out there using cloth nappies these days no matter what the water conditions. Too inconvenient. I used cloth nappies for my kids and I would like to bet it was a lot less expensive that the throw away variety. There were a lot of chemicals involved in cleaning though I dare say.

              • The Other Lynn

                I’m actually surprised to see how many of my friends ARE using cloth diapers. The cloth diaper industry is making it much easier to do now, and many are jumping on board. I do live in the desert, but remain convinced that I used no more water than if I had flushed the toilet after each time my child used the bathroom.

                • That would probably be the case with my washing machine because it is very water efficient. And I am so glad mum’s are returning to cloth diapers. I believe there are some really clever ones on the market these days.


    This is german, see if the translation is good. but it sums it up quite well: the factors can multiply according to your way of washing dishes. one sink with not a lot of soap is better in electricity, water and soap than the machine. if you wash under running tapwater however, the thing changes and the machine is the better way. but I agree with colleen here, what you need to consider is the production of the machine and the usage of cleaning products over time. I use plastic brushes and little sponges for washing the dishes therefore I need more of them than people who own a dishwasher.

    And not to mention the time saved, because honestly washing the dishes is annoying. I am cooking a lot and washing a lot too. but I try to get it down to max of two washes a day. I usually rinse the stuff I just used right away after cooking and then stack the dishes until I run out of space (thank god there isnt much in the first place). then I do it all in one go, with one sink. Just as my grandmother taught me when I was a kid, I always clean the cleanest things first, preferable glasses (I dont like polishing) and the dirtiest stuff comes in the end. that way the water stays clean for a long time and you can use it well. I know many people though who clean in the order the stuff just comes along and change the water in the middle. I never had to do this, this way.

    • That is interesting Lena. I will check out the site. I am curious about your washing method, do you rinse the soapy water off your dishes or dry them with a cloth. I ask this because one could argue that the wiped dishes aren’t as clean as rinsed ones left to air dry which also now have less chemicals on them. So many things to consider. Mind you, I washed up the same way as you when I was young and it didn’t kill me so does it really make much difference. Now-a-days the scaremongers make such a big deal about hygiene and residue…

      • Hi Colleen, I wash up the same way as Lena. I just let things sit on a draining rack and wipe them with a cloth. I don’t use that much detergent, really, so I think it’s quite okay that way (On the other hand, I find much more weird remainders of detergent on dishes washed by the dishwasher, that’s also one of the reasons that puts me off). I just checked the detergent flasks, it says that my 500ml concentrate is enough for 250 sinks full of water. So I only need 2ml per load. And as long as I don’t have extremely greasy pans (which I rinse afterwards), I don’t use more than that (I tend to mix detergent with water in another container beforehand, as I don’t manage to not overdose using the original flask). However I also know people here who have two sinks (or two bowls in one big sink, one with water and detergent and one with clear water to rinse the dishes afterwards. You may also just fill your sink to a third or so when starting off with dish washing and then slowly add more water by rinsing the plates under the tap.

      • yeah, just like Sanna, I just let my dishes dry on the rack. (maybe thats the german method? ;-)) I know a lot of people who would consider it super disgusting to not “wash the soap off”, but I dont see the big deal in that. I like to think that my body is strong enough to overcome those minimal doses of chemicals and then: my soap is a eco product. so I guess the chemicals are not as bad after all. and I really try not to use a lot either. I thought about the extra container for the sink, but as long as I dont stumble on it, I wont go out and get one. that needs to be a freebie that comes along, just like the keychain 😉

        • Extra container for the detergent-water-mix? I just use the previous detergent bottle. 😉 Okay, maybe not that pretty…

        • ah I thought you meant the extra container to do the dishes in. 😉 because that way you can actually be even more economic about your water usage.

          • I live in the driest part of England and have a metered water supply. Only about 1/3rd of UK homes are currently metered but all new-builds come with compulsory metering. We’re thought of internationally as a very soggy country but parts of the UK have lower per-capita rainfall that the Middle East.

            So, for thrift and environmental awareness, I use a plastic bowl in my sink and wash up under a slow running hot tap, hence rinsing as I go. Dishes are put into a draining rack. I can do a load of dishes and not have the small washing up bowl more than 3/4 full at maximum, often no more than half.

            It’s apparently more hygenic to let dishes air-dry than to use any kind of cloth and when they’ve been rinsed under hot water they dry pretty quickly. I do dry glassware and my stainless steel items (flatware and saucepans) with a cloth otherwise our very hard water stains them.

            I’m also a fan of cloth hankies, picked up unused in gift boxes from the thrift stores. If I was shopping at Collen’s thrift store I’d be after those ones for sure 🙂

  16. Your post on freebies came at a great time for us here in Europe! Or at least for the part I live in as the Eoropean championships are starting we are getting terrible outbreaks of orange fever here. (Guess where I live…) And Orange freebies in support of the national football theme are are nearly litarally getting thrown at you in the shops. On several occasions I have been rudely accused for being a football hater or an un patriotic person (to say it in nice terms) for refusing said freebies. Yet I can not see how having all sorts of orange (not my color, especially the brght neon like color) plastic/synthetic junk would support anything but the industries that produce them. So I will be refusing them all through the season and learn to stand the spiteful words usually following the polite refusal of such items. Wish me strength……..

    • the german’s favourite enemy. 😉
      I forgot about the european championship until yesterday, when I already threw away many footballstickers that came along with chocolate bars. and while I am looking forward to watching it, I will refuse wearing our colours and any other accessories. you are not alone on that one then! I also feel somehow uncomfortable with this display of our national colours everywhere suddenly… but thats a totally different topic.

    • Hi hunter_ex, when someone makes a fuss about you not accepting their orange trash just tell them you support the team but you support the planet first. Or you support the team but not at the expense of the planet. I wish you strength. Make a stand and be proud. 😉

    • hunter_xs, just be glad you’re not in the UK right now. We have the football stuff, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee stuff (Union Jack flags on everything) and the London Olympics meaning things with their ringed logo are EVERYWHERE. The landfill sites will be full to bursting in no time with this mostly non-biodegradable trash. You almost have to walk down a shopping street with hands jammed in your pockets to stop useless stuff being stuffed into your hands. . At least I’m now officially too old and uncool to be given freebie entry things to nightclubs. 🙂

  17. I swear I am the only person who can go into my local Costco & not accept any of the food freebies (samples) which seems to be a big draw for a lot of folks. Seeing people congregate around little bits & bites of free food gives me the shudders – like watching vultures picking clean a prey. Ewgh.

  18. Not getting freebies is a challenge if you are trying to live on a limited budget. I have found that when someone in the family brings it in the house, it is so hard to get rid of it! One of the hotels is starting to have dispensers for the shampoo and conditioner instead of all those little bottles that provide so much waste!

    • Hi Spendwisemon,
      freebies would be great when you are living on a limited budget so long as they were things you need. Any useless freebies are still clutter.