It always surprises new visitors to my home to learn that we never buy paper towels. I guess it’s just habit for most people to ask for them after washing their hands, but it’s literally been years since my husband or I have bought a roll. This didn’t happen overnight. Eliminating paper towels and napkins was definitely a process, but it was a necessary step toward reducing the amount of waste in our kitchen.
Our goal is eventually to have no waste at all leaving the kitchen, which tends to be the room where most of our household trash is produced.
Getting rid of paper towels was a logical step, and here are some simple tips to help you do the same.
- Once you’ve made the decision to ditch paper, build up a stockpile of cloth towels, rags and napkins.
- Don’t feel the need to buy special kitchen towels, since you’ll be using them to clean up messes and do all the things you used to do with paper towels.
- Have some full-sized towels that are on their last leg? Use pinking shears to cut them up into kitchen-sized towels. One bath towel can typically make 4-6 kitchen towels. More, if you cut it into smaller rags.
- Any piece of fabric you have laying around could be a cloth napkin. Literally.
- Put the cloth towels and rags where they are accessible so you won’t be tempted to reach for paper. Our favorite kitchen location is inside a small basket on the kitchen counter. In the bathroom, I tie a ribbon around towels and rags in the corner of the counter to make them easy to find.
Getting rid of paper towels and napkins really isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you’ve done it for a few weeks, it’ll become second nature.
We still have a long way to go to eliminate kitchen waste, though. Food packaging is a major source of trash, and it drives me crazy.
When grocery shopping, we consciously try to buy only foods that are packaged in recyclable containers — preferably ones also made of recycled materials as well. We also do our best to avoid plastics — even the ones that are recyclable in our community. At the end of the day, metal and glass can be recycled infinitely, but plastic will eventually reach a stage where it can no longer be recycled. Then what? A lifetime in the landfill.
Still though, we’d find ourselves buying food packaged in recycled paperboard, only to find a non-recyclable baggie inside. We try to avoid single-serving foods, even when they’d be more convenient.
Eventually, we want to be able to avoid packaging altogether. We have been doing more shopping at farmer’s markets where we can get fish and other meats wrapped in paper, and we recently found a local co-op farm where we plan to sign up. This will allow us to get produce fresh from the Earth sans cans, wrappers, containers, etc.
One of the biggest areas where I admit I have failed is composting. I keep saying that I want to try it, but I never get around to it. Yes, we live in an apartment, but these days, there are composting options for indoor and outdoor use. I’ve read all the details time and time again, but get intimidated by the balance we’d have to achieve to make composting work as it should. But really, there’s no valid excuse for why we haven’t taken the plunge.
Given my daughter’s affinity for half-eaten plates of food, we really would cut back on a lot of what we throw away if we could just toss it in the compost bin.
So here’s me kicking myself in the pants. We WILL buy an outdoor composter for our patio, and we WILL be successful at it by December. Hold me to it.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Seventh Generation and Walmart challenged me to take a month and share the things I’m doing to make my home greener. That’s a little tough, since making my home green is all I ever aim to do. Still, we can always do more, right? In this series, I’ll share with you some of the new, and old, things I’m doing to make sustainability a priority in my home. You can see what other Walmart Moms are doing, too. Sheena from Sophistishe, Monica from MommyBrain Reports, Jenn from Frugal Upstate and Denise of Wholesome Mommy are also participating. Be sure to come back next week for more!
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Walmart Moms program. Seventh Generation has provided me with products. Walmart has provided me with compensation to blog about attempting a more sustainable household for a month. Participation in this program is voluntary. All opinions are my own. (sponsored post)