How to ditch paper towels

Do you use paper towels to clean up every day messes?  Want to cut down to save money and resources?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that paper accounts for the largest share of household waste.  In 2006, 34% of our trash was paper.

Paper towels are one source of paper waste, and most can’t be recycled once used.  Their production uses resources, from plant fiber to petroleum in the production process.  Some paper towels are bleached, which adds dioxins to our environment.

There are more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as recycled, non-bleached paper towels, but why not try to ditch or dramatically reduce their use altogether?

What are some alternatives to paper towels?  It depends up on the job.  Here are some common uses and alternatives:

  • Wiping counters, tables, high chairs:  Use dish towels, rags, old clothes or sheets, cloth diapers, or burp cloths.  Don’t have enough dishtowels?  Look for them at thrift stores.
  • Cleaning windows:  Switch to newspaper and you’ll love how streak-free you can get you windows.
  • Napkins:  Switch to cloth napkins, which you can get cheaply at Ikea (49 cents) or make yourself.
  • Soaking up grease when frying:  Try newspaper or scratch paper (save from school notices, outdated stationery from an office).  If newspaper cones work as french fry holders for the French and Belgians, why not us?

Do you have other alternatives to paper towels to share?