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this weekend’s paper towel

You might think me insane, but hear me out.

I’ve mentioned it before. Our family has not purchased or used paper towels for nearly three years. Before making this change, I would watch my boys splash their hands with water, consider it a thorough wash job, then rip off half a dozen paper towels, delighting in how fast the roll pirouetted around the holder.

One day we ran out of paper towels, and I didn’t feel like going to the store. We had to make do with cloth kitchen towels to dry our hands and clean-up rags to, well…clean up! Guess what happened. We survived!

I didn’t buy paper towels on my next shopping trip, and I announced to the family that we were going to try a challenge: one month without paper towels. I got some grief. Fast forward three years later, and it’s second nature to the whole family. We don’t buy paper towels.

Can you imagine how many trees we’ve saved? I’ll have to give my boys most of the credit, there. Can you imagine how much money we’ve saved? I’m not one for facts and figures, but I’m guessing enough for a few evenings of family entertainment.

During this busy holiday weekend, I’m caring for quite a few critters. I wash my hands frequently: two to three times per visit, I’d say, depending on when the dog was last bathed or how dirty the litter box is. I can usually find a kitchen towel with which to dry my hands, but when I can’t, sometimes I’m forced to use paper towels (not being the type to snoop in drawers).

At one client’s home, this is this weekend’s paper towel:

20130526-075346.jpg

I started caring for the pets on Friday afternoon, and at three visits per day… this baby has now been used at least a dozen times to dry my clean hands. When I’m finished with it, I just lay it out flat, like so, and it’s all dry and ready to go again on my next visit.

It’s the little changes that make a difference.


4 Comments on “this weekend’s paper towel”

  1. Totally agree and don’t remember that last time I bought paper towels. We like trees in their natural state 🙂

  2. This is a really, really intriguing idea, as paper towels are the one thing that I feel like I could not live without. It’s the germs/mold issue that freaks me out. I mean, as soon as you use a towel for any reason other than to dry your clean hands–like, while cooking, I’m a hot mess, so I often need to just wipe myself off really quick to keep prepping or cooking and it’s too much of a pain or would take too long to fully wash my hands to a clean state–it’s gotta go in the laundry. How many towels do you have? How much towel laundry are you doing?

    And then what about with the rags? I’d be the same way. If I used a rag to clean off the counter, there is no way I’d reuse it. I’d have to put it in the wash. What’s your strategy with that? I must know!! I’d love to not have to buy a bajillion paper towels every year.

    • well minded says:

      Hi, Lauren!

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I understand your trepidation about switching over to cloth. As far as the germ issue goes, I use a great, natural disinfectant (Sol-u-Guard by Melaleuca), which works both for surfaces and the cloth. I also use the towels pretty strategically. If I’m wiping the kitchen, for example, I wipe the cleanest areas first, then get to the areas where we dripped spaghetti sauce or some such thing. If it is something really gross, I’ll go over it again with a fresh towel. In the bathroom, I’ll start with the mirrors, then move to the counter, then the toilet last. That way, I can use the same cloth for the whole bathroom.

      I have about twenty kitchen towels and about twenty rags. I go through maybe four of each throughout a typical day, more on a heavy cleaning day. The kitchen towels are really just used to dry our clean hands.

      I don’t do separate towel laundry. I throw each towel/rag in the washer when I’m done with it, so we wash a few towels/rags with each load.

      Incidentally, we also use cloth napkins, so we toss those in the washer with other laundry, as well.

      Try to do a weekend challenge, or something. See how it sits with you. 🙂


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