I Need...Paper Towels and Napkins

>> Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Okay, I realize I'm a little slow going on my paper changes, but slow and steady wins the race, right?

Today's subject is paper towels. If you missed my post about why you should be more conscious about your paper purchases, you can review my Paper Primer here.

And here are some facts from the ever humble Seventh Generation about recycled paper towels:

If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 120 sheet virgin fiber paper towels with 100% recycled ones, we could save:
  • 1 million trees
  • 2.6 million cubic feet of landfill space (equal to over 3,800 full garbage trucks)
  • 367 million gallons of water (a year's supply for 2,800 families of four)
  • and avoid 38,000 tons of pollution.

Now let's start making some changes:

  • Use smaller paper towels. Try the select-a-size type of paper towels, and use a smaller size when you can. Using smaller equals using less.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, reach for cloth first. Use a towel to wipe up spills, use a washcloth to clean up messes, use rags to clean, use cloth napkins. Give these Skoy cloths a try. The other 20% of the time...
  • Use recycled paper towels. Look for a brand with at least 80% post-consumer recycled content and one that was whitened without chlorine bleach. You can find "opinionated and unscientific reviews" of paper towels by Grist here.
  • Use cloth 100% of the time. Stop buying paper towels. If you don't buy them, you'll find ways not to need them.

Tips for the Budget Conscious
The cheapest brand of recycled paper towels I've seen are Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value 8 pack for $7.99 (about $1.00 each). If you don't have a Whole Foods nearby you can get 30 rolls of Seventh Generation Natural paper towels through Amazon's Subscribe & Save program for $46.74 ($1.56 per roll). 30 rolls is a lot of paper towels though. Maybe you can work out a deal with your neighbor and split the pack.

Where I'm At: I'm in a 50/50 phase right now, but working toward 80/20. My biggest hang-up is using paper towels for cleaning. I tried using rags and didn't like it, but I know I've just got to get over it. Maybe I just need more rags.


Anonymous,  November 19, 2008 at 3:42 PM  

My friend Amy hides her paper towels under the counter so that she has to make an effort to choose paper, and so she doesn't choose very often. I know you're way past this now but thought it is an interesting idea.


Richard Sandberg June 30, 2012 at 8:36 AM  

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