The Green Apple: Bye Bye Paper Towels
Lately I’ve been trying my best to take some steps toward more natural, less wasteful living. In addition to eating less processed foods, there are many steps I’m taking around the house. Using more natural cleaning products instead of harsh chemicals, conserving our energy usage, more recycling and less waste.
One of the easiest changes for us has been switching from paper to cloth napkins for meals. I’ve got a serious paper towel addiction, but by using cloth napkins at meal time, we’ve greatly reduced our paper towel usage. I purchased some cute linen napkins (ours are the “Flax” color) that I enjoy looking at. Using cloth napkins has the added bonus of making meals feel much more sophisticated too!
But I do have a confession: I’m still having a hard time using these napkins for The Littlest Apple at meal time. As with any 2 year old, I’m sure, he’s just SO MESSY, and as silly as this sounds, I don’t want my pretty cloth napkins getting dirty! Goofy right?! I still use wet wipes to clean The Littlest Apple after each meal, though I’m trying really hard to switch him to cloth napkins too. I’ve also tried using a damp kitchen towel for The Littlest Apple, but I’m not sold on that method either. The Little Apple hates the damp towel method because it always winds up too cold for him, no matter how warm the water is in the faucet. And what do you do with your damp towel when you’re done? Rinse and save for the next mealtime mess? If so, where to store it in the meantime? Maybe I need some additional towel hanging space. I’m pretty sure I’m over thinking this!
Household cleaning: I’ve also cut back my paper towel usage for cleaning up around the house. I use newspaper for cleaning mirrors and old tshirts for dusting. I now wipe down my counters with cloths like these which can be run through the dishwasher or washing machine:
Washing and drying produce: This is an area I still use paper towels more than I’d like. We eat lots of fruit at our house, and I am constantly washing and drying grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples, etc. I typically use a paper towel to dry them because I feel like the paper towels absorb more water than my cloth towels….am I just not using the right kind of towels or drying method? I know this is another easy place I can cut back my paper towel usage.
Art and craft messes: Yet another area where I usually reach for paper towels or wet wipes. The Littlest Apple and I do art frequently, and he HATES having paint or marker on his hands. It is so easy to grab a paper towel, but wouldn’t it be just as easy (and effective?) to use a cloth instead? I’m going to focus on changing this next, at least when it is just the two of us.
Guests: Not everyone is on board with this “greener” lifestyle, and visitors to my house tend to reach for the paper towels first and frequently. For now I’m letting it slide. I know how awkward it can be trying to figure out which towel to use for what in a hostess’s house, and then what to do with the used towels? For those of you making an effort to reduce your paper towel consumption, how do you deal with guests who reach for paper towels? And what would happen if I didn’t have any paper towels on hand? As much as I’d love to just stop buying paper towels all together, I get a little freaked out just thinking about that….I’m hosting an weekly art playgroup starting next week for eight kids (two and three year olds). Yikes! How will I survive without my beloved paper towels?!
I know this post hasn’t provided lots of answers or advice, but I wanted to share my thoughts as I’m starting out on this journey toward less consumption and less waste. I know using cloth napkins at meal times is drop in the bucket (especially when we’re still using disposable diapers, among other things). It’s the celebrity equivalent of buying a Prius when you also own a Range Rover and a Porshe. But it’s a start, and I’m eager to take the next step.
Do you use paper towels? Wet wipes? What steps are you taking to reduce your paper towel consumption? I’d love to hear about any tips or products!