I didn't wastefully use paper towels before quitting them three week ago, so why even stop sopping up our messes with them? In an effort to Live with Less, even in the kitchen, I wanted to challenge myself to find alternatives that weren't a single-use product and reclaim what counter space our paper towel stand took up.
I know what you're going to ask...what about paper towels made of recycled paper, like Marcal? That's the brand I've used and touted for years, but I still can't help but think...
Even if paper towels are made from recycled content, the fact that they are a single use product is just wasteful. No matter how "green" the company is that produces them, paper towels are manufactured at energy and water-intensive mills and often from virgin tree pulp. Choosing not to use them is a prudent way to not engage in that wasteful cycle.
Interested in how to kick your paper towel habit? Read on for 10 ways to get started:
- Dry your hands with cloth, not paper.
- Do you use them as napkins? Cloth beats paper: cloth napkins are fancier, more colorful and way more fun to use! You can get several uses out of each one, but remember to keep track of whose napkin is whose.
- Wipe dishes with a sponge, then wash.
- Clean windows with newspapers.
- Wipe counters with super absorbent bar towels. I keep a stack of them in the kitchen. They are great workhorses and soak up tons!
- Spilled milk? Grab another super absorbent bar towel from your drawer and wipe away. I like to keep a towel in the kitchen for floor spills, just in case.
- Do you feed your cat canned food? We do and washing his food bowls and the food can with a paper towel was the hardest habit to break. Now I'm keeping an extra sponge under the counter for such chores. Once I made the switch, it wasn't that hard!
- Frying bacon? Using paper towels is a popular way to soak-up the grease and clean the pan. Instead, grab a super-absorbant cloth towel and use that then wipe the pan with a sponge.
- But you usually clean your tile floor with paper towels? Forget it, drop the habit and move on. Worn out t-shirts are a great solution or (once again) bar mop towels.
- Got a mess that you'd rather not use a kitchen towel to clean? It happens from time to time. Still, you don't have to fall off the wagon. Instead, prepare in advance for situations like this. Purchase a few extra bar mop towels (super cheap, by the way), grab an old sponge and store them in a bucket where they can easily be washed post clean-up with warm water, soap and a disinfectant like Shaklee's Basic-G Germicide. Don't forget to wear gloves!
If you're afraid of putting such cleaning rags in your washer for fear of wasting water, be assured that you're using no more water than what's wasted when paper towels are being manufactured. Toss in the dirty stuff once a week with other towels and you'll be just fine!
Tell us! What are your favorite ways to kick the habit?
(Image: Landis Carey)