A few years ago I was buying bulk paper towels at Costco because everyone else was. I got home and tried to figure out where to store the 30 rolls of paper towels. That started me thinking, why do I use these? I don’t have to. I’m my own person, I do my own cleaning.
I vowed that day I will never buy paper towels again, I quit cold turkey.
I do spend a bit more doing an extra load or two of laundry each month, but it feels better to be spending money on reusing something rather than buying more waste. Making the switch away from paper towels has made me happier in the kitchen, I’m living a bit more sustainably, and I am saving a little money too. The average consumer spends over $85. A year on paper towels I’ll take that and get a massage instead!
You don’t have to quit cold turkey, but here are a few tips to quit:
Simply quit buying them.
Yes, it’s easy. Want to stop using single-use products? Don’t have them around. (A little like potato chips, if you don’t have them you don’t eat them.)
Keep Soak iT Up Cloths on hand.
Most of the time we use a paper towel for tasks like wiping down a counter that can easily be done with a reusable sponge. By keeping sponges (natural non-plastic ones hopefully!) on hand, you’ll naturally grab those first rather than a paper towel. When they need to be cleaned, throw them in the top rack of the dishwasher then pop in the microwave to help dry faster and sanitize.
Keep many tea towels handy in the kitchen.
I’m talking about 3-5 towels within reach. Cotton is one of the most water and pesticide intensive crops in the world so try to not buy new cotton products whenever possible. This means seeking out towels at thrift stores or garage sales. Whatever works for you, try your best to give something a second life rather than buying new. I often hang these towels on my oven handle or somewhere in my kitchen, but it’s essential that I keep the Soak iT Up close so that I can grab them in a pinch instead of a nice dish towel.
Invest in some nice spray bottles.
Then fill them up with your own cleaning spray. It’s easy to make your own cleaning spray using 1/2 cup white vinegar (distilled), 1/2 cup water and 12 to 24 drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle (I love anything citrus and have played with adding lemon zest to my bottles). This is a great way to pick your favorite scents and keep your plastic waste to a minimum.
OR check out some natural Mrs. Meyers and Trader Joes for cleaning sprays that are natural and chemical free. By having a scent you’re excited about, you can focus on how clean the kitchen is getting, rather than the fact that you aren’t using a perfectly bleached piece of paper to clean.
Get used to doing more laundry.
Okay yeah, you might do 2 more loads a month (if you’re super clean) but paper towels require an extraordinary amount of water to produce, so by reusing cloth you’re actually reducing your net water use. Also, if you use Soak iT Up cloths they last for months, and can be laundered in the dishwasher and dried/sanitized in the microwave.
So save some money by not buying paper towels and use it for a massage instead!