Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Alternative to Paper Towels

There are two rolls of paper towel in the top of my pantry.  I bought those paper towels well over six months ago, and there they sit.  There are paper napkins up there too, and they are even older.  There they sit because I don't need them.  My kitchen has plenty of spills that need sopped up, and it definitely has little mouths that need wiped, so why the lack of movement on the paper goods- cloth.

Last year I wanted to try cloth, so I pulled out those cloth napkins that I got as wedding gifts, and I found a few extras at the thrift store.  We've never gone back.  We even pack them with lunches. They absorb better than paper, and they are larger as well.  I store them folded (but not ironed) in a wicker basket in the largest drawer in my kitchen.  At my old house, there was no where to store them, so the basket sat right on the end of our table.  Napkins can be used several times before they need washed in many cases, and in our house we mark our used napkin with a napkin ring for later use.

Paper towels went later.  I wanted to try cloth rags, but I didn't want to use my regular household cleaning cloths, so I went to plan B.  I started gathering worn out white T-shirts and cutting them into large squares, added some kitchen towels with holes, and my kitchen rags were born.   My basket of cloth towels sits in the pantry, and the other side of the pantry holds my kitchen laundry basket.  I keep all of the kitchen laundry completely separate from the other laundry.  When we have a spill, need to wipe counters, or want to finally scrub those fingerprints from our glass kitchen door- we grab one of these towels.  Our all-purpose cleaner is homemade and completely non-toxic.  The recipe is as follows:

All Purpose Cleaner 

Add 14 oz. of white vinegar to a spray bottle, 
and then fill the bottle the rest of the way up with filtered water.  
For an added scent, squeeze half of a lemon into the bottle. 

Clean Rags are on the left and all kitchen laundry goes on the right (dog food is in the middle!)

Five benefits of switching to cloth:
  1. Save Money.  The napkins and rags probably won't cost you anything, or if they do, the thrift store can make the price minimal.  You won't have to shell out hard-earned cash for disposable.  If you already wash your kitchen towels, bibs, highchair cover, and washcloths, you won't have to spend any extra money on laundry either.  Just add the napkins and towels to your load.
  2. Limit Your Family's Exposure to Toxins.  Toxins are not only found in cleaner sprays, but did you know that since they use Chlorine to bleach paper towels and napkins, a dangerous bi-product called dioxin is released.  Dioxins are one of, if not the top, most toxic chemicals known. (If you are interested read this.) Cloth has no toxins, so this is a safer option.  
  3. Reduce Waste to Landfills.  Growing up I was always taught that we need to care for the earth because we want it to still be livable for our children and their children and so on.  Now that I have had the chance to meet my children and I look them in the eye and I know that I am the one who has been given the honor to protect them, I take this charge very seriously.  Whatever your motivation, I think we can agree that our planet could use some TLC, and this is one small and easy way to reduce waste and to cut back on dioxins that are spewed into the air at paper mills.  
  4. Save time.  Purchasing anything takes time, and using cloth means there are two less items to add to the list and search out at the store.  The more you simplify, the easier your life will be.  If you are interested in saving even more time, don't bother folding your napkins or rags.  They are only used to clean up food after all.
  5. Protect Our Forests.  Paper napkins and paper towels are made from trees, so simply cutting back your use of paper means more trees that do not need to be cut down.  Can you imagine how many trees would be saved if families even cut back their use of paper products?
What tricks do you have in the kitchen to cut back your use of paper goods?

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  1. So funny, I just re-committed myself to not buying more paper towels and was cutting up old t-shirts last night. Thanks for the timely post.

    1. LOL! That is too ironic! Great minds think alike!

  2. Lovely ideas for being environmental and thrifty! We chop all cloths for cleaning rags for the business as our cleaners get through bucket loads on our changeover days, however I hadn't thought to really make use of them in the house too, will do so from now on! Not really a Country Kids post but delighted to have found the tip!

    1. I know, I messed up and posted the wrong types of posts on your link-up this week! I have lots of great outdoor posts for the future!

  3. We just recently switched to cloth napkins for the table in lieu of paper ones. It does help save money. I like how you organized your pantry. We haven't switched over to cloth in the kitchen yet. Your tips will help with the transition. Thanks!

    1. I hope your transition goes well! I'm amazed at how smoothly it went. I've recently started showing guests to the cloth napkins and rags too. I sometimes get, "These! Are you sure!?" but I just assure them that they are everyday napkins.

  4. What a wonderful idea!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  5. Great idea!!! We can use different words for this "Eco-Friendly Towels". I've been reading your posts recently on your blogs and they were all quite resourceful. I really enjoyed reading. Your tips are really helpful. Thanks for sharing great ideas.
    Paper-Products Market Analysis

  6. Indeed, cloth, when it comes to towels and personalised bathrobes, provides various benefits like what you have mentioned. Thank you for giving readers a few reasons to switch. :)

  7. Its really a wonderful idea to switch from paper to cloth. I have a lot of old clothes in my store room & now its time to make them useful by cutting those into square piece. I will prefer cotton cloth as it would absorb splits quickly.
    Less use of paper product would definitely save environment by reducing deforestation. Also, one can go for bamboo products like bamboo towels.
    Thanks for the great tip.

  8. It's a great idea of being eco-friendly! I think using things made out of bamboo like bamboo towels or bamboo linen will keep us more close to earth as bamboo is earth friendly. We all know that we are heading towards global warming hope these little steps will save our mother nature. Good Job Becki!

    Know more about Bamboo Towels