Cheap & Green in 2013 #4: “Un”-Paper Towels

unpaper towelsAbout 10 years ago I read an article about a family who used NO paper products in their home. At the time, I was shocked, wrote them off as radical, and filed it under the “crazy things to marvel at” category.

Fast-forward to now. In the past year, our family has gone through only 4 rolls of paper towels. We reserve them for serious issues like pet messes and puke.

So what’s the alternative? Un-paper towels.

If it sounds radical to you, it’s really not, I promise. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Start small. Every time you wash your hands, instead of grabbing a paper towel, use a cotton kitchen towel.
  • Then, pick up or make some inexpensive bar towels to use for your everyday kitchen messes. These small steps really help decrease the amount of paper waste in the household. It’s greener, plus you’re saving money by not buying paper towels.
  • If you’re handy yourself, you can also just take fabric scraps (many of mine are from an old cotton baby blanket), cut them, and serge the edges.

Worried about extra laundry? Don’t. Just toss the towels in a hanging wetbag in the kitchen, and toss ’em in when you’re doing a load. They’re relatively small, so they will barely make up 1 extra load a week.

What do you think? Could you try unpaper towels?


Photo  thanks to Mamamade.


cheap & green

Cheap & Green in 2013 is a series of 100 frugal tips, DIY ideas , and nourishing recipes to encourage and inspire all of us throughout the year.

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  1. I’m proud to say we use no paper towels or napkins in our home. I have enough dish towels and cloth napkins that I only have to wash a load of them once every two weeks! Many folks may not realize this, but, unless you have a really messy meal, you can definitely use cloth napkins a few times before they become “dirty.”

  2. The best tip I’ve heard about using fabric instead of paper — and what finally helped us successfully switch — is to make the towels and cloth napkins very easily accessible! If the easiest thing to reach is a cloth napkin or a towel, it becomes just as convenient as any paper product. I love getting to breeze by the paper product aisle :)

  3. We do this in our home, too. Paper towels are reserved for really messy, staining things only. Saves resources and money!

  4. I want to know where to get the paper towels pictured! I love them. I’d love to add them to Silent Springs!

  5. OOOH! Hanging wetbag! When I’ve tried this before the problem was where to keep the dirty stuff without walking it to the laundry room. I’ll look into getting a wetbag.