Let's talk trash: years ago, I would buy Glad drawstring trash bags, waiting until they went on sale and hopefully stacking a coupon on top. The price of trash bags (remember this is so that you can throw it away!) escalated and I said, "enough." I moved to store brands and haven't looked back. We recently finished a box of Stop and Shop trashbags, bought from Crash n burn. Even better, and my mainstay, is to buy them from Aldi's @ $4.99 for a 45 count box = 11 cents each. On average, I transport our trash and recycling over to the transfer station every 2 weeks. My Prius is typically packed to capacity with 2 actual bags of garbage and the rest is something like 6-8 trashbags of recycling. We reuse the recyling bags over and over until they are turned into trashbags. All food scraps are composted, we are heavy recyclers so my trash is comprised of tissues, plastic wrap, batteries. It's light, dry and nothing leaks. In a pinch, I also save larger, store shopping bags that are plastic for the same purpose: use as recycling bags then trash bags. Most rooms also have small, wast ebaskets, I repurpose small, plastic, store bags to line those. It's amazing how many enter this home (plastic bags)considering that I use cloth bags when I shop. I even cut the side end of a large, multipack of toilet paper, converting the plastic overwrap into a wastebasket liner. I figure that I have to throw it out anyway, so I may as well repurpose it first.
Toilet paper is considered a necessity, it's not something that I am willing to substitute for. I do tend to just get Aldi's brand, which is comparable to Northern. We also use a ton of tissues, so I turn to Dollar Tree's Home store brand as well as the Scotties sold there. Aldi's brand is also very good, and they do offer a lotion variety which is appreciated by those suffering colds.
While I do have some paper plates, bowls, cups and random, set aside as extras from the olders kids's take out meals paper napkins, these are "emergency preparedness" supplies. Extended periods of no power=no water=dirty dishes stacking up. So while I buy an occassional stack of paper plates or bowls, I do not buy paper napkins.
Another thing I don't buy, are paper towels.
We have gone cold turkey 4 months now, previously only using 2 rolls a year. When DS # 1 rejoined the household, we quickly discovered that he was literally using up all of the paper towels in the kitchen, which I would reserve for really gross things like cat barf, a dropped egg on the floor. Instead, we use these, hanging kitchen towels:
and another at the stove. After he used up the remainder of the roll of paper towels left behind by the LL, I refused to take out my remaining roll, which remains on the shelf down cellar, unbeknownst to DS and the rest of the family. I see some at the grocery store, spending small fortunes on paper towels. For grease absorbing for what limited frying I do, I use repurposed flour and sugar bags that I save just for that purpose. For cleaning, we keep a dishcloth at the kitchen sink, for both washing dishes at the sink (usually pots and pans), washing down the counters, and tabletops. If the floor needed spot cleaning, for example, we turn to the bin of cotton rags, stored under the kitchen sink.
How are you doing with taxables? Have your shopping habits changed at all, due to the economy or other circumstances? I used to budget $50/month for taxable, including all of the aforementioned as well as personal care items. It's now much less than 1/2 of that. Any "savings" is incorporated in being able to afford actual food vs taxables, in light of the many price increases.