paper towels

Oh the simplicity of ripping off a paper towel square, swiping up a mess and tossing the whole glob into the trash.

The ease of the paper towel can quickly overpower your eco-conscience until you unthinkingly grab for one after every little spill. Suddenly you’re creating mini mountains of used paper towels in your trashcan after every dusting session or bathroom cleaning.

Unfortunately, those paper towels you’re consuming like they’re going out of style were once trees. Many paper producers use virgin pulp from timber in the United States and Canada to create paper towels, toilet paper and other tissue products, instead of making use of more eco-friendly options, such as post-consumer recycled fiber, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Paper towel consumption not only destroys the environment, it destroys your wallet. Think of it this way. You buy paper towels pretty much to just throw them in the trash. So you’re basically purchasing waste. Talk about a money pit. You can go green and save yourself some green by rolling paper towels out of your life. Here’s how.

Find paper towel alternatives.

Reusable towels and rags make the best paper towel substitutes. After using them simply toss them in the wash with your other laundry. Try these tips to make your transition easier.

  • Keep certain towels or rags for cleaning specific rooms. The idea of using the same rags to clean my bathroom as my kitchen just seems unsanitary. Try color-coding them so you know which towels to use for which rooms.
  • In your kitchen, store towels for drying dishes and towels for drying your hands separately. You don’t want to risk swapping nasty germs by using the same towels for these activities. 
  • For down and dirty cleaning, use rags made from old T-shirts, bath towels or any other scrap cloth you have on hand. Don’t feel bad about tossing a few of these in the trash if they get too dirty or worn. Trashing a few rags is much better than consuming multiple rolls of paper towels. 
  • For light dusting try using old socks. Pull the socks onto your hands like mittens and dust away. You may feel a bit silly, like some kind of mime gone clean crazy, but the cloth is great for picking up dust.

Test drive a paper towel-free life for one week.

To get yourself off of those addicting paper towels, make the cut all at once. Try using zero paper towels for one week. See how it goes. You may be surprised by how easy (and liberating) living sans paper towels can be.

If you find completely removing paper towels from your life too painful, limit your stash to one or two rolls. And only use them for the worst of messes. Then slowly work yourself up to using fewer and fewer paper towels.

Living without paper towels may even be more difficult than living without plastic bags. But you can do it! Next time you want to reach for a paper towel, stop yourself. Is a little bit of grease spillage really worth adding more waste to the planet?

image: patries71