Ending paper towel use was a household goal for us in 2019. I’m happy to say we’ve successfully stopped buying paper towels for good. It’s been over a year since we’ve used or bought paper towels. Being eco-friendly is important to me. We recycle and do what we can do create a sustainable earth friendly lifestyle. Over the last decade I’ve made many changes to foster a zero waste household. This year I am excited to start sharing all of these sustainable changes we’ve made.
Ending paper towel use was a dramatic change for us. Most American households use paper towels on a daily basis, 318.4 million American’s used paper towels in 2019! This is no surprise to me because it is the absolute norm to have paper towels available in kitchens across the country.
Our paper towel use
People use paper towels differently. We sadly mostly used paper towels as napkins, tearing them in half for meals. We also used them occasionally to dry off our hands and dishes if a kitchen towel wasn’t available. In addition, we used paper towels to pat down fish, wipe oil on pans before baking stuff, and wiping up occasional cat throw up. For the later my husband now uses toilet paper to wipe up that mess. Then a cloth to clean up after.
In an effort to become more eco-friendly I realized we already cloth diapered so why not have another load of cloth to wash? I do laundry on practically a daily basis. So it really is no big deal to throw in another load to wash.
I want to share how we are ending paper towel use in our home. This method has successfully been working for us for the past year. It is about having various cloths to use instead of paper towels and having a specific place where they are stored. Baskets are used to store these dirty cloths. Below is our cloth setup.
Ending paper towel use – our cloth setup
In the kitchen
We created a drawer in our kitchen to hold our kitchen towels to dry off wet dishes and hands and a stack of organic dish cloths to wipe down counters with and other miscellaneous uses like wiping up spills off the floor. We also have oven gloves and mitts in this drawer. On a side note I just bought these red floral oven gloves a few months ago and absolutely love them. It is so convenient to throw them on and have both hands protected.
Our cloth napkins
We have four beige fringed cloth napkins I got from Home Goods. We needed more so I picked up three more sets from World Market in an array of colors. I chose the Dusty Aqua, Deep Jungle Teal and Golden Yellow cloth napkins. They came in sets of six so with our other four cloth napkins we have a total of 22. I love cloth napkins because it is another way to beautify our everyday environment. I love color so it is fun to use them and see that splash of color on the table and they match our decor. These crane cloth napkins are on my want list! So are these shibori cloth napkins!
Sure the napkins get stained but we are a family with kids including a toddler that loves ketchup lol so they will likely need to be replaced with time. They are wrinkly out of the dryer so for guests you’ll want to iron them beforehand, at least for a formal occasion.
It also is another load of laundry that needs to be folded but since we need them ASAP they are usually folded the same day they are washed and stacked on the kitchen shelf. I actually enjoy folding them and stacking them on the shelves. They are pretty and practical household items that are helping us eliminate paper towel use and I find joy in using them.
The cloth napkins are stored with bibs on a shelf to the left of our kitchen sink. It is easy to just grab them from the shelf as needed for meals.
In our dining room
In the corner of the room in our dining room we have a woven hamper to hold all of our dirty cloth napkins and Mackenzie’s cloth bibs. It works easily to toss them all in their together when we are done using them. When the hamper is full I’ll do a load, which is done on a weekly basis. I don’t even use a liner, I just toss the entire basket in the washing machine and afterwards put it back in the dining room.
In our laundry room
In our laundry room lives a couple stacks of microfiber cloths and other rags. We use these cloths for cleaning the bathrooms, dusting around the house and other applications. Here are some similar microfiber cloths.
I use a small basket I thrifted to hold these dirty cloths. They are then washed together in their own separate load. I also have a stack of towels not pictured that are used for cleaning other messes up. These towels are stored in this same basket in the laundry room.
This cloth setup is really working out nicely for my family and I in ending paper towel use in our home for good.
I hope this post inspires you to think about ending paper towel use in your home if you haven’t already! It is gratifying knowing that all of the cloth we use will get reused again and again. It is also nice knowing that we are no longer mindlessly throwing away paper that comes from trees. In addition we are probably saving hundreds of dollars a year by no longer buying paper towels!
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments. I hope you consider using cloth napkins and other cloth like microfiber and kitchen towels in your home in place of paper towels if you don’t already!