For several years, I’ve wanted to cut down on our paper towel use and introduce cloth dish towels to our kitchen. I wanted to do this for environmental reasons (my understanding is that cloth is better than paper!) as well as for financial – we were going through a lot of paper towels! We probably used about one roll every week and a half. At about $2 per roll, that’s almost $200 per year.
However, my husband, the chef in our family and the main paper towel consumer, was not on board. Since he does the majority of cooking, I wanted to respect his preference. Earlier this year, however, it occurred to me that even if he wasn’t interested in using cloth towels, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t. (Don’t ask me why it took me so long to figure this out.) I spent $25 at Target for 20 dish cloths and a little plastic bin. The dish cloths got folded and stacked on a cake plate next to our paper towel roll, and the bin went next door for the dirties (so we didn’t have to trek to the laundry room after every use).
Friends, this system is working better than I ever dreamed! I’m glad that we still have paper towels available, because cloth isn’t perfect for everything (I prefer to clean up cat vomit with something disposable!). But just the presence of the cloth towels has cut down both of our paper towel consumption to almost nothing – in the two months we’ve had cloth available, we’ve probably used about a roll of paper towels.
A few other items:
— We’re not doing any additional laundry – we just throw the dish towels in with our once a week sheets-and-towels load. We were already doing this with cleaning rags, and they’re so small they don’t make much difference!
— We started with 20 bar cloths/dish towels. As we became more used to having the cloths available, we started to go through them faster, so we just added five more to the collection a few days ago. I think adding five more (to get us to 30) will be the perfect amount to get us through a week.
This situation was a great reminder of the old adage – the only person you can change is yourself. Or my personal favorite, Be the change you wish to see in the house. We spent so long at a standstill, with him stubbornly on the paper towel side and me stubbornly on the cloth side. In the end, we ended up gladly on the same side because no one was being forced to change. I know I’ll be reminding myself of this lesson in the future :)
Have you tried to reduce paper towels in your house?