Generally I am pretty focused on decreasing the waste impact that comes from our home. It all started with my brother quitting paper towels. Before visiting his house and being utterly distressed when I couldn’t find the roll after I had never thought a household with out paper towels was possible. That realization simply baffled me. Many agree with me since facts state that the United States alone creates 3000 tons of paper towel waste daily. Making just 1 ton of paper towels takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. With a state like California going through a serious drought that requires government intervention, it seems silly that more people haven’t thought about kicking these miscreants out of their homes.
Before you go telling all of your friends about this paper towel free lifestyle that you’re cultivating, realize that this isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish. As soon as Cowbae and I stopped buying them I was faced with all of these annoying clean up jobs that previously were conveniently accomplished using a paper towel. But with the impact on the environment to create them and the methane gasses that they rise out of landfills and act as one of the greatest contributors to global warming, I persevered. But now that I have found out my own errors through utter failure, I can share them here in hopes that you will only fly on the eagle wings of success and what not.
- Get More Rags
For me, getting rags means assessing the ripped up clothes that I’ve held onto for years for no reason. Maybe there are some towels in your house that just aren’t fluffy or soft anymore, cut them up! Think about how many things that you clean in your kitchen alone with paper towels, that is how many rags you’ll need. Cut up old linens and clothes to create different sized rags that can do almost any job. I’ve found that old denim is one of my favorite abrasive textiles to use as a rag and shirts with logos screen printed onto them are not very useful. Going to the store and buying a new pack of rags is also a viable option as they will be rewashed and not thrown away like paper towels. But try to check in the house for something to repurpose before going out for new products. The rags at the store will be packaged which will create waste, they were probably shipped across the country or even the world which contributes to carbon emissions; this isn’t always a super eco-friendly option. But it is a small step, which is never a bad thing.
- Organize A System
I wish that I had decided which rags would be used for the dirty jobs before using the ones on the top of the stack and rotating regularly around the house. Whether buying new or up cycling rags, decide which color is going to be used in the bathroom, which on the kitchen counters, etc.This will ensure that you aren’t cleaning your kitchen with a rag that was previously removing urine from the toilet seat. This is also handy if you’re in a household with kids, or in our case, a dog that gets so excited when he remembers to eat that he barfs afterwards. Designate some barf, snot, poop rags for whatever disgusting things come out of humans and animals while they’re inside of your house. With a system in place, it won’t feel like such a travesty when you’re staring at a huge lump of diarrhea on your yoga mat… not to be too specific or anything.
- Don’t Give Up
Making the smallest effort works, if you just don’t see yourself leaving those super absorbent little guys behind then think about making small steps to reduce. Maybe try to only dry your hands with a hand towel and save paper towels for heavy spills or bacon grease. To accomplish cutting down with out removing paper towels from the home at all, try putting them away. I used this tactic when quitting cigarettes but it works for everything that we use so habitually that it has become a subconscious tendency. Put the paper towels at the back of the pantry, or with the cleaning supplies in the laundry room, just put them away. This will force you to go from where you are and get the paper towels, in the time it takes to get to them your mind can assess whether this job must be done with paper or if a rag will suffice. Don’t be so overwhelmed by the impact of us dang humans on the environment that you stop trying to save the planet. Make a tiny change, that is all you need to do, if we all made a tiny change to better the Earth we’d be living in a vastly different world.