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2.28.2010

Making the transition from paper to cloth- you can do it!

Did you know that the average American family uses 1 1/2 to 2 rolls of paper towels a WEEK? Do the math. That's not a pretty thing for the environment OR your wallet. Going paper-free in the kitchen is probably one of the more challenging steps towards becoming greener, but it can also be fun. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but here are my tips on how to do it without spending a fortune.

  • Start with what you have. Do you save old, stained t-shirts? Have a few bath towels that have seen better days? Old prefold/flat cloth diapers? Recycle them!
  • Add little bits at a time when you see the need, and look for cheap. White cotton bar mops (that's what they're called, usually near dish cloths and towels) are economical and practical. We use waffled dish cloths that I got in the dollar bin at Target for our everyday napkins.
  • Find a workhorse or two. I love microfiber cloths. You can find these either in the cleaning aisle OR in the automotive aisle. I tend to buy the automotive ones (on sale!) because they're bigger and cheaper. These are awesome for dusting or absorbing large amounts of liquid... or scrubbing down a squirmy toddler. I also have a grip of birdseye cloth "un-paper" towels (just search un-paper on Etsy). They're lighter weight and get used all around the house for various spills and cleaning.
  • Find something you love. I love frugality, but I also think that something you LOVE, that makes you smile every time you look at it, is worth a little money. You don't HAVE to spend a lot of money to love it, though. If you sew, find a fabric you like and sew up some napkins. Search Etsy. Or call me:) But if you love it and it's handy, you'll use it...
  • And that is my last tip- keep them where they will be used. I have this dispenser on our table, as well as napkins in a drawer (our table has 6 drawers- awesome). It takes time to work out a system for you, but keep at it and in no time you'll have the appropriate cloth nearby when needed.

I do not miss paper towels at all. Except when I want to drain bacon... It may seem like you're spending more than you want to at first, but when you don't have to buy paper towels, napkins, and tissues anymore the savings will start to add up. Good luck!

3 comments:

jrmiss86 said...

we have switched to mostly cloth, I still keep a roll of paper towels around, but only go through about 1 every other month or so. It is amazing how quickly the family adapted. I inherited a ton of napkins from my grandmother so I have a bunch of really nice napkins for nothing. It really is so much better.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

I'm in awe...we're working on this, but it's slow going! We did the cloth napkin transition already, but the cloth cleaning rags thing is going to be harder. I did just buy a king sized cotton sheet from the thrift store for $1.50, and I'm figuring on cutting that up and using it for most jobs, and putting a laundry bag inside the cabinet to drop them into when done...

Once we switched to napkins alone, that cut us to one roll every three weeks or so...and I bet we can cut that in half once we change our counter cloths. Pet messes we still will want the paper around for, though!

Anonymous said...

We started doing this several years ago. Mostly because I wanted to be thrifty. Now all our children prefer cloth napkins to paper ones! We keep paper napkins on hand because my mom-in-law brings them to us. Paper towels don't usually find themselves at our house either unless she brings those. If it's not in the house you use what you have.

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