Going Green: Say Bye-bye to Paper Towels!

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Earlier this year, I told you how our family was cutting down on our use of paper towels, but that we still used paper towels sometimes.  I am thrilled to tell you that that is no longer the case!

We have officially been sans paper towels for almost 3 months (long months, in my husband’s opinion!), and I can honestly say that I haven’t missed them.  At all.

I use kitchen towels for everything. And, I mean everything… even to clean out greasy pans!

How did I do this? Truthfully, we just ran out of paper towels and I stopped buying them. Once they were gone, they were gone.  I simply could not justify (for our family) spending the extra money on something that would just be thrown away.

Is this feasible for anyone? Yes! In fact, the transition has been easier than I thought it would be. My husband did miss the ease of snagging a paper towel, but he soon did not mind just grabbing a regular towel (his main issue was “messing up” the “real” towels… once I told him that wasn’t a problem, all was fine.)

So, what is the real difference? In my opinion, there is really no difference. I have to wash towels a few times a week anyway, and throwing a few extra in has not made a difference.

The BIG difference is not buying a wasteful product, not killing trees to clean up spills, and not spending money on an unnecessary item.

Are paper towels a convenience? Of course! And, for the record, when we have students over on Sunday nights for home groups, we use “restaurant style” paper napkins from the church.  So, we haven’t forgone the use of disposable napkins completely, but they are rarely used, and never for our family’s meals.

My challenge to you, friends, is to make the switch (while you still have paper towels, in case you change your mind!). Commit to using kitchen towels instead of paper towels for ONE WEEK.  See if you can do it (and if you decide it isn’t for you, then you still have paper towels right there at the ready!).

{Don’t worry, friends… TP is still welcome in our home.}

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom.

Photo credit: Scudder


    • says

      Keri and Charlie,
      🙂 That is a good question… I should’ve added that to my post!

      The towels I use here, I don’t worry about staining them… they are used only for wiping up, not for “good” use. Obviously, if I clean up grape juice with one, I would rinse it out (although that won’t necessarily prevent staining). With greasy messes, I simply wring it out over the trash can or (because I have a garbage disposal) I rinse it out in the sink, and then throw it in the wash.

      So, to answer your questions, I don’t worry about stains… these towels are separate from my regular kitchen towels. And, we don’t like bleach here, either, Keri!

  1. says

    Oh, we’ve been going paperless for several months now. We use…well I don’t even know what it is really…cottonlike sheets about the size of a pillowcase which we cut into various sizes. They work perfectly for degreasing bacon etc.
    A few weeks ago I put some paper towel on the counter because I had some left that I wanted to use up. It’s funny because I tend to reach for the cloths in the basket on the counter rather than the paper towel. Interesting, that I didn’t miss it at all!
    I use an e-cloth for windows, glass and such.

    I think that your idea of a challenge is a great way for other to start!!
    .-= Jenn @ Beautiful Calling´s last blog ..Reindeer Reviews Are Headed This Way! =-.

  2. says

    Hi Jenn!
    It’s so funny that you grab the cloths before the paper towels… I’m the same way now! Once you get used to it, you don’t miss the paper towels!
    If you figure out what those cotton-like sheets are called, let me know, please 🙂
    And, would you tell me what an e-cloth is?

  3. says

    We use hand towels most of the time. It’s been easier for me than for my hubby though. I’ve been trying to get my parents to switch. They go through at least 4 Bounty rolls… per week! When I go home and help with dishes or cleaning, I grab an old hand towel. Mom gives me a stare and then says, “Oh here honey, we have paper towels,” like I’m missing out on some luxury, lol.
    .-= K @ Prudent and Practical´s last blog ..Crockpot Spicy Peanut Chicken =-.

  4. says

    We have been paper towel free for about 2 months. I just quit buying them also – not a big deal. I don’t miss them at all. Next up – tissues. I use a handkerchief but it grosses my kids out.
    .-= Christy´s last blog ..Veteran’s Day =-.

  5. anna says

    It can be done. I stopped buying them when I lived in the city and a friend pointed out that, in a 4th fl walk-up, anything you don’t have to carry is a plus. If you don’t have old bath towels that you’re willing to downgrade to kitchen towels, this is about the cheapest thing to buy at garage sales and such. In fact, I keep some of those just in case. I’ll be honest; with three kids and stomach flu, I’ve used and discarded some of those, which isn’t necessarily better for the environment, but probably isn’t worse. One thing; if you’re worried about the gross factor, sun (line) drying does wonder. It actually bleaches without bleach.

  6. says

    Great tip! I hadn’t thought before to put a stack of “stainable” cloths in the kitchen; we just use our regular towels for whatever. I figure they’re going to get stained eventually, who cares? LOL

    I have had the same stack of paper towels for several years now because I stockpiled them and then for some reason just started using regular towels or microfiber cloths instead. I do keep a roll in the kitchen, but it takes a looooonnggg time to go through it.

    Recently, though, I’ve used them more, because my son has food allergies and it’s easier to use a paper towel with his things because I don’t have to worry about contamination concerns. But even at that, I don’t have to use it very often, just on the odd occasion.

    We use cloth napkins too, although I keep a stash of paper napkins for company (I have discoveredthat a lot of people in my circle find cloth napkins off-putting and too formal for some reason. I want them to be comfortable when they come over, so I’ve learned just to use paper napkins.)
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..Story Time =-.

  7. says

    That’s great! We’ve been using terry cloth “shop towels” that I picked up at Costco. I got 50 towels for less than the cost of one giant package of paper towels. They’re about the same size, too, and they’ve been working great.

    It’s been really nice not having the expense of buying paper towels every few weeks.

  8. says

    We use a roll a year. The only thing I haven’t stopped using them for is greasing my cast iron with crisco. I can’t stand to use my hands and I don’t like grease/lard/oil in the washer/dryer.
    .-= autumnesf´s last blog ..Thankful Thursday =-.

  9. Catherine says

    I grew up using rags instead of paper towels. I keep a roll in the kitchen for heating up bacon in the microwave (I buy the pre-cooked stuff) and for wrapping up lettuce (but I usually re-use these a few times) to dry. I think it takes me 9 months or more to finish a roll! I love it. I’m so glad that others are making this move – it’s frugal AND “green”! I broke a glass jar of juice in the kitchen last week and I don’t even want to THINK about how many paper towels that would have taken to clean up. As it was, I used almost all my rags – but they were cleaned up in a jiffy after I did laundry.

  10. Lisa says

    I have 3 sets of kitchen towels/rags.

    The good set lives in a drawer in the kitchen.

    The set that I use for general cleanup lives in a basket on the kitchen counter.

    I have a stained beyond redemption, other-wise unusable set under the kitchen sink. The last set I use to clean up anything that is too nasty to put the towel in the wash after use.

    I have cats. I don’t think I need to elaborate 😎

    These go directly into the trash when I am done with them. Since they initially came from clothing that was so stained it would have gone into the trash anyway, I don’t feel bad about chucking them.

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