A week or so ago, I rented a book from the local library called, "Zero Waste Home." In a nutshell, the book details several ways you can reduce how much you throw away, at home and outside of the home. While some of the author's ideas are a bit more extreme than I am comfortable with, there were many great ideas that I've been dying to try. The first one I've tried so far, is giving up paper towels entirely.
Sounds crazy, huh? I mean, it's a household staple! Just stay with me here. Seriously, guys we don't even notice they're gone. Aside from saving money and helping the environment (Paper towels do break down. However, they are doing so in a contaminated area. Thus, helping to leach toxins into the ground. So yeah, not great for the planet. Plus, they come in plastic and you have to factor in the gas to get them to the store. Then, there's the carbon footprint left from making them, etc. Also longest use of parentheses ever.)I was pleasantly surprised how much freakin' space eliminating them saved, in our condo! Guys, we don't have a ton of space to begin with. It is like gold up in here. I never really thought about the fact that we had to make room for the paper towels on the counter, and then store the 3 foot tall bag they come in, in Archer's linen closet. NOT ANYMORE WE HAVE SO MUCH SPACE IN THERE AHHH!
Anyway, here's how we're managing this as a family of four, with young kids, and a million pets.
For the kitchen: I had a ton of kitchen towels to start off with. I don't know why. They, like, multiply on their own. Anyway, I just keep them folded in a drawer and use them as needed. I usually use the same one all day to wipe down counters, the table, etc. I make my own all purpose cleaning spray so I know I'm not smearing chemicals everywhere. If something is really greasy or gross, I may use two in one day. I just toss them into our clothes hamper when they're spent. I do one load of laundry daily so keeping up the towels is a non-issue. They just go in with the rest of our clothes. If you like to do laundry once a week, then you may have 1 extra load. Most of the towels you will use are small. Waffle weave or microfiber are the most absorbent.
For the bathroom/ household: Microfiber clothes are sold everywhere, are cheap, and are super absorbent. I, however, just use old tee-shirts cut into squares or washcloths I bought at Walmart eons ago. They work great for me. If I'm cleaning anything super nasty or if I have to use chemicals, I will wash the rags separately afterwards.
For big time messes: I use old bath towels. We have, like, fifteen towels for the four of us. No one needs that many towels. I picked out ones that were stained or threadbare and gave them their own shelf, in our bathroom closet. If your house is bigger than mine, you'll probably need to keep some in more than one location.
For your hands: Cloth napkins, guys. I'm being serious. You know what, I noticed that we don't even really use napkins at the table. Well, Archer does. For the most part, J and I usually don't make a mess, so we don't need to use a different napkin at every meal. This was a revelation! So break out the ones you got as a wedding guft and have never used. Or buy some at Ikea for $2. I think the Dollar Store may have some as well. I can almost guarantee your friends do and may be more than willing to see them go.
So there you have it! The next time you all finish a roll of paper towels don't replace them right away. Go a week and see if you even miss them. I double-dog-dare you!
Ps. I will never give up toilet paper. Ain't happenin'! I promise!!
*The amazing picture above was found here.