Kick the paper towel habit with these 5 linens


When people come to visit our home they are interested in the fact that we have no paper towel or napkin products in our kitchen. Many people might want to go paperless in their kitchens, but perhaps just do not know where to start or what it would look like. I am no expert on living a greener life. I just try one step at a time until it becomes a habit and then I move on to the next thing I can change. Paper towels used to be one of the items I would mindlessly grab for whatever and easily toss in the trash no matter how clean it was. Whether it was for a dog accident or just drying my hands, they were super convenient. They were also super wasteful. As I began to educate myself more about the impacts of my actions on others and the environment, these were one of the first things to go. Getting rid of paper towels is one of the easiest first steps to greening your life. It will help save resources for more important matters and it will help you save money.  This is a short article on some of the impacts of paper products.

Below is a list of 5 linens that helped us kick the paper towel habit. Hopefully they will help you too!

Cloth napkins that we keep in the kitchen.

  1. Cloth Napkins. These are the ones you will see lying around our kitchen. We have a drawer full of them, a collection of some that we have made (from upcycled fabric is best) and some that we have found at the local thrift store. Not all of our napkins match, but this makes it perfect for us. With such a variety of styles to choose from, every person can get a different pattern/color, it prevents people from grabbing multiple napkins in a day, due to the fact that they forgot which one was theirs. We leave them sitting on the table or counter for a day or two and then we toss them in the laundry.

Nice white dish towels that match the kitchen colors.

  1. Dish Towels. These are the visible towels. They hang off of our oven door for hand drying or we lay them on the counter to dry dishes. These are the nicer towels that match the colors of the kitchen. We do not use these for nasty messes or messes that will leave stains on rags. After about a day or two they are also tossed into the laundry.

Dish rag for cleaning the counter and table.

  1. Dish Cloths. Having a handful of wash cloths is great for just every day wiping down of the counters with your favorite homemade spray mix. We have an assortment of bought and hand crocheted wash cloths (homemade gifts from family).




Terry Cloths

  1. Terry Cloths. Why terry cloth? These are great because they are usually made from 100% cotton and are very absorbent due to the longer thread loops. You can use them until they fray up and you can throw them in the composter since they are made of cotton (after you cut them into small pieces). They are fairly cheap, running about $.50 per towel. They are easy to find at local auto shops, box stores, and online. I usually keep a basket of these under the bathroom sink and in the kitchen. We mainly use them for nastier messes, messes that stain, and for deep cleaning. These are also perfect if you have dogs that make messes on the carpet, scrubbing down a nasty cooler or outdoor project, and for dusting.

Mirror cloths are great for going chemical free when cleaning glass and mirrors.

  1. Mirror Cloth. So what does one use for cleaning glass products without paper towels? We use a mirror cloth that is just for that purpose. You wet one end with water, wipe, and then you use the other dry end to wipe away the water. If you cannot find these in your local store, they are easily found online. We have also used micro fiber and vinegar water or that old classic newspaper and vinegar water method.

Our kitchen has been paper free for years. Once you get a system in place and have everything conveniently located everything should flow easily there should not be much fuss. Everyone in the family knows why we do it, where to find the different towels, and when to use them.

Why not just use recycled paper towels? Personally I feel that this is still harmful. The process to create them still has negative impacts on our environment. And even after the recycled roll is made, fossil fuels are used to transport them to a store, plastics used to wrap them and they will likely end up in the landfill with the other paper products. Using disposable paper towels is still feeding our singles use habit, just with a product that is recycled. Just kick the entire habit and use reusable items.

Remember, it can at times get overwhelming to change habits in our lives to have a smaller impact. Just start with the elimination of one harmful habit and master it and before you know it your life will be so much greener than it was a year ago, and that helps future generations make better choices for the world as well.