When good reusables go bad

Here’s a problem I didn’t see coming: Some of the items I bought to replace disposables are beginning to wear out.

Uh, so now what?

My biggest concern: My reusable menstrual pads. I’ve got a fairly minimal set (six liners, six regular, three heavy) and they have been in constant rotation since I made the switch over two years ago. Some of the fabric is beginning to show holes, but the real issue is the snap closures on the “wings” that are starting to literally tear off.

Not gonna post photos to show what I’m talking about. We’re close, you guys, but we’re not THAT close. Here’s a photo of our precious Beanie instead:


He’s a sweet little guy.

My sewing skills are only so-so (sew-sew? HA HA HA. Sorry, I need more coffee), but I think I could fix the tears on the pads, either by running another seam around the whole ordeal or cutting a new top piece to cover. But I have no idea how to fix a snap. The material is tearing away from the snap itself, so adding a patch isn’t going to help.

Anyway, I’m just pondering my options at this point. I guess the easiest thing to do would be to order individual pads in the sizes of the ones that are showing the most wear. I just don’t know if I want to do that. I had it in my mind that when I bought these pads, they would be what I used until the end of my cycle (I don’t know, I planned on hitting menopause early, I guess), and it takes me a ridiculously long time to retrench when things don’t go as planned.

Another item that’s starting to show signs of giving up: The pump on one of my foaming soap dispensers. I bought three of these plastic things years and years ago — before I was an aspiring zero waster, but maybe not long after I found minimalism, so we’ll say in the 3-5 year range — and again, I thought this would be a relationship to last forever. I’ve got one in the girls’ bathroom, one in ours, and one in the kitchen, and I love how they make my bulk castile last.

I CAN show a photo of this part. See how the one pump makes a watery mess while the other makes a nice foam ball?


Probably the most thrilling photo I’ve posted to date.

This isn’t really much of an issue at this point because watery soap, who cares?, but I’m wondering if this is a precursor to this thing eventually breaking completely. Soap pumps can’t be recycled, so while the container can, replacing it will mean buying a new one. I mean, $3 or whatever, not a problem, but again the thing is that I wanted this to be the last soap dispenser I purchased and that’s not happening.

Anyone else struggling with good reusables gone bad? What’s your solution? Do we just toss and feel good that we’re only adding one item to the landfill instead of a thousand over the lifespan of that product? Or do we try to keep it creeping along?

P.S. Pearl is feeling left out, so here’s a photo of that gorgeous girl too:


Pearly has a new favorite water dish.


7 thoughts on “When good reusables go bad

  1. Sharon says:

    If you can reinforce or replace the wing part you can get sew on snaps at a fabric store. If you try and it doesn’t work out you should pat yourself on the back for using it until it is worn out and buy replacements. You are doing a great job and inspiring others! I love reading this blog!


    • Trisha Walker says:

      This is a GREAT idea — and we might even have snaps like that already from a project of Johanna’s. I’d totally forgotten about those. I was thinking ribbon, but this is much better — I can cut a couple of “all in one” pieces, sew that over the pad, and then add the snaps. (Hey Mom, can I borrow your machine?) You’re a genius!

      And thanks — I appreciate the nice words. 🙂


  2. Roberta says:

    Would it be too gross to compost the used-up pads? I don’t remember if you use the compost for vegetables, flowers or just because (like I do. My compost doesn’t always get to a plant.) If you have used up an item, even if it is something that once was reusable, and it doesn’t get to the landfill, isn’t that still zero-waste?

    As for the soap pump, I’ve got nothin’. We use bar soap for hands, and I feet guilty about dish soap, so I have no answers. I don’t have a source for bulk liquids.


    • Trisha Walker says:

      We don’t use our compost for anything … we’re just trying to get it to rot. So tossing a pad out there wouldn’t gross me out. 🙂 (They’d be washed anyway.)

      I guess that would still be zero waste?

      I’m totally lucky because I can get great liquid dish soap in bulk. The farther I get into this, the more I realize we have to pick our battles. It’s easier to give someone else permission to do that though than myself. Work in progress …


  3. sarahn says:

    A few things
    1. I am on a second menstrual cup. I’m 32. Why? First one I suspected was causing some symptoms. I’m no longer convinced. However, now I have two. Still better than the ton of tampons in plasticy wrappers I could have used. Yes, silicone won’t break down, but… I changed a habit.
    2. We can’t be perfect and let not it be the enemy of good. You, and I, do so much more than the average person, we shouldn’t focus on the set backs or the ‘not good enoughs’
    3. And to mimic 2, buy a new soap dispenser. Life will go on. God will not halt you at the pearly gates (it’s not God there anyhow, I’m not up on heaven and analogies).
    4. Are you SURE you can’t recycle the pump bit? I’d have tossed it into recycling, but now you’re asking, I’m wondering…


    • Trisha Walker says:

      1. Changing habits is good!

      2. Sing it, sister. I need reminding of this often. Why is it easier to focus on the negative than the positive? Maybe this needs to be my August project …

      3. LOL. I appreciate this so much! (I think it’s St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. That’s what all the editorial cartoons depict, anyway.)

      4. I’ll double check with our recycling program, but I read somewhere that pumps are not recyclable. I could just stick it out in our bin — they’re good here about sorting out the things that can’t be recycled. (Thank you, Recycle People.)

      5. You are awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

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