Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Want to Try an Experiment

We are a major paper-towel-using family. We regularly go to Sam's Club and buy ALL THE PAPER TOWELS.

Or you know, just one package of them. But one package contains a lot of rolls.

And then we use all of them.

And my environment-loving heart dies a little every time we have to buy more.

Unrelated, the other day I was Googling ways to save money, and an idea I hadn't considered before popped up: use cloth towels instead of paper towels for normal household messes, and then when they're dirty, throw them in the washer. (Exception: bodily fluids, because that's just gross. I'm also going to include the cat's bodily fluids, because Elliott likes to revenge-puke and it's revolting.) The author mentioned that they had a roll of paper towels that they hadn't finished off in over a year because of this habit. Color me impressed. We go through like a roll a month!

I know paper towels aren't really that expensive and therefore won't actually save us a whole lot in the short-term, but my greater concern is that I'm tired of throwing stuff in the trash. Our city's recycling programs are extremely limited, I'm not able to compost properly in our little "backyard," and we throw a lot of stuff away that could be prevented under different circumstances. And I'm not one to let my circumstances make decisions for me.

So I whipped up a few "towels" out of some old T-shirts, put them in a basket and set the basket on the kitchen table. And I want to just see if I can go ... say, a month? ... without reverting back to paper waste. I've already caught myself reaching for the paper towels when I need a place to put food scraps while I'm slicing and dicing, or when the counter has schmutz on it and needs to be wiped down. I want to get to a point someday where I don't even think about using paper towels for these things.

How do you reduce waste in your house? What products do you use just way too much?


  1. Aw I love this post! We are trying really hard to get to zero waste, and I just started blogging about it. We recently installed a compost bin, so that'll help with the paper, but I do want to start using paperless paper towels...I bought cloth dinner napkins for when we eat, and I def need to make some homemade rags! Good work girl!

    1. When we move to a bigger place, I want to have a full-on compost heap. I considered getting some cloth napkins for the house too, but for now I'm taking one baby step at a time. :)

  2. I'm with you on this one! We use paper towels a pretty good amount too, and it's just gross! We have tried switching to rags (my dad works for a company that makes microfiber towels so we use those pretty often, plus washcloths that have been stained in the washer). It's worked pretty well for us so far, although I keep catching my husband wiping the counters down with our kitchen towels *shudder* and then hanging it right back up on the fridge...! We're still in the training phase haha

  3. Growing up, we hardly ever used paper towels, so I hardly use them now. I actually get mad at my husband when he uses them unnecessarily (yeah, I'm crazy). This sounds like a great experiment!

  4. Wow, great idea! We used to use paper towels fairly regularly at my Mom's house in the microwave because she didn't have a microwave cover... but my husband and I rarely use them and it takes us ages to go through a whole roll.

    In the kitchen, I put all my scraps either in the plastic produce bags they come in or on plates if I'm dicing stuff. Or the counter directly, because I clean it often. We don't really spill a lot of stuff in the house, but we seem to use towels I guess. I'm not nearly as strict as my mother was with the use of kitchen towels and kitchen wash cloths... I just make sure to change them whenever we clean the house (which is on a schedule too).

    For me, I feel bad that we take the plastic bags for produce at the grocery and I'm investigating if there is some way to avoid this. In Swiss land you have to take your stuff, put it in a bag and then weigh it before you get to the register... so it would maybe be tricky if your personal bag weighed a lot to influence the price of the food... and it would have to be clear/see through so the cashier knows you're not stealing stuff... but it's on my list of things to do! We already have reusable grocery bags and all that.

    1. I'm just a klutz, so our counters get messy a lot. :) I've been trying to cut back on my plastic produce bags too. I don't use them anymore for individual items, like where I only need one or two onions or something. Just items like lettuce and leafy things I don't want to set in the dirty cart!