Challengicious Monday: Dispose of Your Disposable Paper Products

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next trash-related challenge:

Dispose of Your Disposable Paper Products

To complete this challenge, you can...

  • Use fewer disposable paper products. Grab a smaller stack of napkins. Rip off fewer squares of toilet paper. Reach for a cloth towel before a paper towel. You know the drill.
  • Buy paper products with recycled content. Look for brands with at least 80% post-consumer recycled content and that are whitened without chlorine bleach.
  • Use cloth. Napkins and towels are an easy switch. Handkerchiefs are a little more challenging. If you're a super duper marathon runner, you can even switch to cloth "toilet paper." And don't worry - these changes will barely add anything to your laundry pile.
This challenge is specifically geared toward those paper products that you can't recycle: paper towels, toilet paper, and napkins. But hopefully, you'll also take some steps toward reducing your overall paper use this week since according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world." Use recycled, print less, print on both sides, and recycle when you're done.

Right now, I'm somewhere between Jogging Stride and Marathon Runner on this challenge. All of the paper products we use have recycled content, and we've made a good effort at switching from paper to cloth (we ran out of paper towels at Thanksgiving and still haven't bought more). But I plan to nudge us a bit further this week by making some handkerchiefs to stash in the bathroom. Anyone know what the best fabric for homemade handkerchiefs is?

For more specific information about how and why you should reduce your paper consumption, check out:
Will you take the challenge?

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

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mudnessa February 8, 2010 at 12:42 AM  

I haven't bought paper towels or napkins in years. So much so I had to use toilet paper this morning when I stepped in a nasty pile of cat puke, barefoot. I use cloth wipes in the bathroom for #1 need to work on my husband and at least get him to use recycled content tp. Need to find a good recycled content paper towel for my cat messes. Also have been using paper napkins but we usually snag them from take out food places. Should stop kidding myself and stop all together.

The Raven February 8, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

Excellent! We are marathoners (except when our basement is so damp that our wipes don't dry on the line before we run out--and then we use paper tp).

I know this must seem like a big step for some folks--but for us, this was one of the easiest, most luxurious changes. The idea of wiping with a strip of paper now sounds as unpleasant as the idea of using a pinecone...

Anonymous,  February 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM  

The only disposable paper products at our place are recycled toilet paper and recycled printer paper.

I'm intrigued as to why handkerchiefs are more challenging. Blow your nose, put the handkerchief in the wash. What could be more simple? Would love to hear people's opinions on this one.


Wonder-ful February 8, 2010 at 4:24 PM  

This was the one I knew would be tough for us. In reality, I'm the only one in the house doing the challenges, but our paper product dependency comes from the other members of our house (No paper for me except for tp)

Since my grandmother has been under our care, we used disposable everything with the excuse that it makes things easier on us.

In the last two months, we've cut our paper product use down to 50%, but it's still the bulk of our garbage output (1/3 is in disposable underwear and bedpads, 1/2 is paper products, the remainder is miscellany).

Brenda February 8, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

We switched to recycled paper a couple years ago for toilet paper and paper towels for cat puke. We made the switch to handkerchiefs last summer and blogged about it here:
the best handkerchiefs are 100% cotton. I love using hankies they are softer. We always used cloth rags for cleaning. Not ready to switch to cloth wipes yet though.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper February 8, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

@Cath - Since I wrote that, I can say for myself that the challenge with handkerchiefs is having enough for everyone in my family and still only use each hanky once. The old fashioned method of carrying a hanky in your pocket and using it more than once grosses me out.

KaKi February 8, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

Okay, this I have to admit, challenges me. No tp???? OMG! I hate to be this basic, but what do you use instead????

Lisa Sharp February 8, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

We are marathon runners for everything but tp and tissues. For both of those we use Seventh Generation recycled. We even order the TP from amazon so we get it wrapped in paper not plastic.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper February 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM  

KaKi - I haven't gone this extreme yet (don't know if I ever will), but some people use cloth wipes. You just cut up pieces of fabric, keep them by the toilet along with something to store the dirty ones in, and toss them in with your regular laundry. Many people who use cloth wipes only use them for #1. It sounds strange if you've never heard of it before, but most cloth diaperers use cloth wipes and that's not really any different. Good enough for baby, good enough for momma!

KaKi February 9, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

Oh my goodness. I don't know if I could ever get my family to do this. I will have to ponder this a bit. Thanks for teaching me new ideas!! Did you get my email with my address? I am so excited!!!

Daisy February 14, 2010 at 4:29 PM  

I've been very happy with cloth napkins and cloth rags for the kitchen. Next: TP with recycled content.

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