Americans spend $5.7 billion dollars a year on paper towels for home use[i]. Cutting out paper towels every month saves money, virgin trees, space in the landfill, and plastic packaging. Here are 4 easy tips to reduce your paper towel usage and pad your wallet a bit more.
1) Reusable cloth napkins
The average cost of a 12 pack of cloth napkins is $14, if you buy two packs it totals $28 compared to $116 spent on paper towels and napkins yearly. While the upfront cost of cloth napkins is more expensive than a roll of paper towels, you get a lot more usage out of them, its like more for extra durable paper towels. Plus, cloth napkins are very absorbent and do not tear. Another perk of cloth napkins is that you can customize them to match the aesthetic of your kitchen. You can even roll them on a paper towel roller to store them like a roll of paper towels or fold them to fit nicely in a draw.
2) Turn t-shirts into cleaning cloths
When you are finally ready to let go of your beloved t-shirt that looks like swiss cheese or has grease stains, cut it up to use as cleaning cloths. Don’t just stop at shirts! Get creative with old textiles, for example, old socks can be handy dusters.
3) Microfiber cloths
Microfiber cloths are very effective at cleaning surfaces and do not leave fibers on surfaces like paper towels can when cleaning windows. However, like the name suggests they do shed small plastic fibers called microplastics when they go through the washer. Other synthetic fabrics including clothing shed microplastics when put in the washer[i] as well. If you do use microfiber cloths, limit use of them to surfaces that are not cleaned frequently to cut down on microplastics entering our waterways.
Sponges are great absorbers and can replace paper towels to clean up messes and wipe off counters in the kitchen and other areas of the house. Double down on your eco-friendly choice and opt for a natural sponge or one with recycled material. A quick google search for “natural kitchen sponges” will reveal several options! You can also check local stores that carry natural products for these and other eco-friendly products. Pro tip, you can clean a sponge by putting it in the top rack of a dishwasher.
Not ready to throw in the towel on paper towels? Choose paper towels made with recycled fibers or made with bamboo. Paper towels that are made partially or completely made from recycled fibers cuts down on the number of trees cut down to make towels that you typically use for less than a minute. Products that have recycled content can contain two different types of recycled materials: pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled materials. Pre-consumer recycled material is scraps left over from the manufacturing process such as paper scraps that never make it to the consumer. Post-consumer recycled material are materials from products collected that were used by consumers, such as paper towel rolls collected from your curbside bin.
Remember, paper towel rolls go in your curbside recycling bin and can used to make your next roll of paper towels!
Paper towels cannot go in the recycling bin and should be discarded in the trash or a compost bin!