Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Giving up Paper Towels for Lent.

Looking for something to give up for Lent? I've got the answer: paper towels.

Seriously. I hear you laughing. I hear your "what-ifs." I sense your eye rolls.

What if the dog pees? What if I need to wipe the counter? What if my kid spills milk?

We've been a paper-towel-free house for almost five years now. We moved to Scotland in 2011 and had a hard time finding paper towels for sale. Then we noticed our British friends rarely, if ever, used them. They certainly didn't use them as a substitute for a plate in the way that so many Americans do. At one point in my life I also didn't think much about buttering a piece of toast on a paper towel -- I mean, it saved the hassle of washing a plate later. Honestly, though, with that mentality, you'll go through multiple rolls a month, and it's just a total waste.

So, while in Scotland, we got a few tea towels and that was that. Since we came back to America over three years ago, I haven't missed paper. Everything can be cleaned up easily -- often more easily -- with a proper dish towel. Think about restaurants ... they don't clean up spills with paper towels. What you can clean up with one tea towel often takes 10-15 paper towels. Or would you wash your car or dry off after a bath with paper towels?

I understand that many people think we are nuts for our paper-towel-free-household, including my family and David's. For them, we keep a roll of paper towels on hand because it keeps the peace. It does amaze me how quickly a roll is used up when family is visiting though -- something I never would have noticed before we went on our paper towel moratorium.

Anyway, just get yourself 4-6 dish towels and try to make it 40 days.

Benefits of being Paper-Towel FREE:

  1. Save a lot of trees and thousands of gallons of water. (Various sources say it takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to produce a ton of paper towels ... and 3000 tons of paper towel waster is produced DAILY.)
  2. Paper towels are often toted as being biodegradable, but there are so many chemicals in them that they often don't. Google away to find more discussion. You also can't compost most of them, as they are bleached and loaded with chemicals. 
  3. Start a dish towel collection! It's now my go-to souvenir when I'm traveling. I don't need a t-shirt or a coffee mug. I find a cute tea towel or dish towel. My current favorite is a macaroon towel that some friends brought me from Paris last year.
  4. Brightly colored towels are an easy way to decorate the kitchen. Added benefit here, as I have zero decorating ability.
  5. There are always towels hanging on the stove and by the dishwasher, which makes it super easy for my 3-year-old to clean up a spill quickly.
  6. They are really easy to wash. Just toss in a couple whenever you're doing laundry. I don't feel like it has added to my laundry at all.
  7. Cleaning counters, floors, etc, is easier and more efficient with rags. 
  8. Eliminate the guilt of having gone through half a roll of paper towels just to clean up the kitchen a bit or dust your baseboards.
and a bonus one:
      9. Saves you a trip a Target, which, in turn, saves you hundreds of dollars a year:) 

Anyway, Lent is only 40 days. Give it a try.

What are you giving up? Do you already limit your paper towel use? 

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