Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning, No More Paper Towels

I've started my Spring cleaning! I don't have a very big apartment but over time there are definitely things that need organization and a good clean. I discovered that this can take awhile and that I don't like doing it all at once. So, I've started small. I've also decided not to use paper towels. In fact, I haven't bought paper towels for over a year. It was a switch I decided to take on because I think they are wasteful and, most importantly, I don't feel like buying them all the time. I've found, if paper towels are around, I will use them and use them often! So, I'm breaking the habit. I also noticed after I switched, I didn't miss them all that much either. They seemed like such a convenience because they were so easy to grab for cleaning mirrors, wiping up spills, drying dishes and countertops, and occasionally as napkins. If you are accustomed to using paper towels in your house and are ready to make the switch to a more affordable, less wasteful option then read on. Making the switch is easy. In fact, I'd say it is more convenient to forgo buying roll after roll of paper towels when there are so many options to use stuff we already have to do the same job. Now that's convenience!

For me, my first task was finding an alternative to using paper towels when cleaning mirrors or other glass surfaces. The easy solution is crumpled up newspaper (yes this includes the newspaper fliers you get and consider junk mail!). Before you think about recycling it, save a stack for the next time you clean. It will come in handy. Newspaper is a great alternative to paper towels for glass because it leaves a streak and lint free finish. After using newspaper to wipe my mirrors clean, I really wouldn't go back to using paper towels even if I had a choice.

If you find yourself using paper towels for other things around your house, think about using old t-shirts, sheets, and towels that you no longer use for rags instead. Fold them up, cut them up, just keep them around because they are very useful for dusting and wiping floors and other surfaces. When switching from paper towels, consider having more kitchen towels on hand so you always have a clean towel ready. Sponges work great too for cleaning and can be used instead of paper towels for many purposes like wiping up spills. One more thing to consider is using cloth napkins. Keep them in a basket or drawer near the table and then throw them in the laundry at the end of the week after they've been used. You can even have a variety of napkin rings nearby so everyone in the house remembers which napkin is theirs. Get a good start on all your Spring cleaning this year and say goodbye to buying rolls and rolls of paper towels.

Learn more about homesteading every Monday. I'm participating in a weekly homestead blog barn hop aimed at getting those of us interested in the topic well connected to one another. Learn more about getting back to the basics by clicking on the barn hop logo!

12 comments:

  1. This could not have been more timely! I am just finishing up the last roll of our paper towels and I haven't no intention of buying more. I'm sewing some cloth napkins (for dirt cheap!) and have a bunch of rags, but I wouldn't have thought of the newspaper. My grandma does that, but I had completely forgotten till now. Thanks!

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  2. I've been thinking of doing the same thing!
    I knew about the newspaper for cleaning windows too... but, alas, I never do it!
    Deb

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  3. I'm in the process of eliminating paper towels. I'm still searching for cloth napkins that match my kitchen, but we don't really use napkins at dinner time anyways. Thanks for posting!

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  4. Great ideas! I was so shocked the first time I used newspapers to clean my windows- I was just sure I would end up with a black, smudgey mess, but they work perfectly. Thanks for sharing this post at the Homestead Barn Hop!

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  5. Great post, thanks for sharing. :)

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  6. I used to put a paper towel over food that I was cooking in the microwave. It stopped splatters mostly. Then my cousin showed me a cool plastic plate cover that does the same thing. Now I keep the microwave clean and don't get paper towels stuck to the cheese on my lasagna. I still use them for napkins though. Something about wiping my face with old boxer shorts doesn't seem right. I wonder which is more "wasteful", using paper towels in the kitchen, or using soap, electricity, and water to wash napkins and rags in the washing machine? Oh yes, paper towels can be put in your compost pile.

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  7. I've seen those plastic covers, they work great. I agree, save as much cheese as possible!

    Your question about which is more wasteful using paper towels or doing more laundry is an interesting one. I think the answer really depends on the individual and how inspired he/she is. I don't think your guests over for dinner would appreciate using your old boxer shorts for napkins either, but I'm guessing your dresser doesn't mind being dusted with them? And if it is an issue, you can always buy brand new cloth napkins and use them throughout the week, rather than washing them after each use. It might be worth keeping clean napkins on hand just for those guests. When it comes to be laundry time, just wash them with your regular load. Doing laundry does take a lot of energy but not washing our clothes after every use and deciding to hang clothes and towels to dry can go a long way too. That seems a little crazy to the average person on the street, but it does save a lot of energy and money by simply planning ahead. I think your question is much more than just an either/or question. The choice is clear. If we want to consume less and waste less (and save more money) we've got to buy less AND use less. They go together. That goes for paper towels and laundry.

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  8. Erica, thanks for the encouragement to quit the paper towel habit. I've ditched napkins and I LOVE your napkin ring idea! I was trying to come up with a way to remember which napkin was whose - attempts at strategic locations were not the best plan, but a napkin ring... that's perfect!

    I purchased a bunch of cleaning cloths years ago for the purpose of eliminating paper towels and they do work really great! The company I bought them from even gave tips on folding them so that you could get the most "wipes" or cleaning time from each towel before washing them. Because I didn't eliminate the paper towels (like I did the paper napkins), I think I slipped back to using the disposable kind, but the cloths worked well and weren't a pain to deal with like most people suppose. I just needed your encouragement to do it again!!
    Thanks for linking up to the Barn Hop!

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  9. I'm not the only one! I can't stand wasting money on those over-priced paper towels! Not only that, but there are fewer and fewer sheets in each roll while they up the prices! Sheesh! I'm even starting to think that it's time to crochet a few extra cloths for washing dishes instead of buying the sponges that seem to keep getting more expensive too! Great post!

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  10. Thanks for the great post. I too am weaning our family off of paper towels, I was just shocked at how many we were going through and how wasteful it is! I was looking for old fashioned ammonia the other day and I could hardly find it. There are a million different cleaning products out there, that ALL do the same thing for premium prices, and all of these disposable gadgets, it's just so wasteful!

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  11. hi very nice blog and so cool information and so nice products.I'm in the process of eliminating paper towels. I'm still searching for cloth napkins that match my kitchen, but we don't really use napkins at dinner time anyways. Thanks for posting!


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