It’s Enviro-Mama Thursday here on Strocel.com, and today I’m taking aim at paper towels. It’s my One Green Thing for May. But before I get into that, I want to update you on my One Green Thing for April, which was eating less meat. Specifically, my goal was to eat meat no more than once per day (although leftovers got a pass). So, how did I do?
I was very successful at the once per day meat rule, on the the whole. I even managed to swing a completely meat-free day at least once a week for most of the month. There were two times I fell down though:
- While I was out of town for the weekend, I ended up splitting a meat-covered pizza with my husband for lunch, and then eating meat again at dinner. Oops.
- I had poutine for lunch one day, and then engaged in a long personal debate with myself about whether or not gravy is meat. My final verdict is that yes, it probably is, so that was another day when I ate meat twice.
Paper is made using renewable resources. It’s also biodegradable and recyclable. However, this does not mean that it’s without environmental impact. Paper towels are no exception. In the US, 2% of landfill mass is taken up by paper towels. Plus there’s the carbon footprint of harvesting trees and turning them into paper towels, wrapping them in plastic, and delivering them to you. Even buying paper towels made from recycled paper has an impact. If I could find a reusable alternative to paper towels, I would be reducing my environmental impact.
Years ago, we stopped using paper napkins, and switched to cloth. Our cloth napkins have lasted us about a decade, and they’re still going strong. It seems to me that we should be able to do the same thing for paper towels. I already use tea towels in situations that I used to use paper towels, and that works well. Or, at least, it works well most of the time. But there are still situations when you need something a little more absorbent than a tea towel. When I was shopping at Whole Foods, some sponge cloths caught my eye, and I thought they might fit the bill. The package even said that “one sponge cloth outlasts 17 rolls of paper towels”. I was sold.
I’ve packed my paper towels away, and this month I will see how well I can get along without them. Will the sponge cloth and tea towel combo work to fill the void? I’ll be sure to report back and let you know.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your tips for ditching paper towels. Have you done it? What substitutes do you use for wet and sticky messes? Share your tips in the comments!