Zero-Waste Family Of Five — No Paper Towels

Sep, 21, 2018

By Fredrica Syren:

When people become parents, they tend start using more paper towels. They are convenient for spills, cleaning messy hands and faces, and wiping runny noses. When my oldest was 2 years old, we gave up paper towels. Yes, you read that right: I did the opposite. I have three kids and do not use disposable paper towels. And I have never regretted it. The reason for giving up disposable paper towels is that they are made from paper.

 If, like us, you try to live a zero waste and sustainable life, paper towels simply add to waste. Today, they are used almost as much as toilet tissue. The sad truth is that this is not very sustainable because replacing the number of paper towels discarded every day requires up to 51,000 trees. The problem is that used paper towels cannot be recycled. Paper production is a huge contributor to global climate change.

So, three small children, a whole lot of messes and no paper towels. This is how I do it: instead of using paper towels,we use reusable cloth towels that I bought on Etsy.com. I always have a generous stack of them in a kitchen drawer, easily accessible by both us parents and our kids. What I love most about them (besides being zero waste, and saving money and trees) is that they are hard core and sturdy. I normally need only one towel for a big mess. I also use them for cleaning around the house, then just pop them into the laundry hamper.

 I have about 30 or so cloth paper towels, so I hardly ever run out of them. I like them because I can reuse them repeatedly for dishes, windows, floors, pets, kids — I even bring them with me to the gym to wipe down the equipment or wipe off my face. They are designed to the be size of a paper towel and have two snaps on each sheet to hook them together so you can roll them around an old paper towel inner tube. Each roll is the exact size of a roll of paper towel and will fit ANY holder.  

We have had ours for years, and over the years of daily use, they have faded a little.But they still work great and have saved us tons of money and have been kinder to the planet.

This reusable kitchen towel roll is a great alternative for the disposable paper kitchen towels. However, if you do not wish to spend the money on them, a great alternative is to cut up old bath towels, cut up old t-shirts or use cloth dish towels. You usually can find them at the grocery store, but at a steep markup, but theyre easy to find dirt cheap online.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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