Three or four years ago, I stumbled onto a book called "Zero Home Waste." I have mentioned it in the past here, so you may have heard of it, but it was my first introduction into a seriously hardcore approach to green living. Basically a woman and her family of four produce a quart size jug of trash every year. Seriously. They recycle, do without, or reuse everything. And she lives in a gorgeous house, her kids eat cookies every day, and she seems somewhat normal for being that hippie.
Anyway, I have thought lots about this book over the past few years, and have often been inspired to make changes in my life, based on some of her suggestions.
One habit that I had a really hard time changing was using paper towels. I knew they were super wasteful, because even though the biodegrade, they aren't recyclable, and you only use them once.
I didn't buy them very often before (once every few months, because my grocery budget has always been really small), but there are somethings that I always wanted to use a paper towel for. But in September, when we moved back to Austin, I decided that I would pull all my napkins and cloths out of storage, and use them for sinks, counters, dishes, sticky baby fingers, and everything else. We haven't bought paper towels since.
The photo above is shows about 1/3 of what I actually have. I have to do an additional load of laundry every week, just to make sure I have enough to get us through, because we use them so much, but they have been amazing.
The blue cloths on top are a set that I made out of an old pair of Adam's PJ pants. I love these! They are flannel, and the fabric is thin, but absorbent, and because they are a dark blue, they don't stain easily. I just serged around the edges for a finish, and they make a great cleaning cloth. I often wish I had more than four. They are great for cleaning the sink, counters, and floor. I don't ever use these to wipe the toddler, because they go in too many other gross places.
The red and white napkins are Christmas napkins, but we use them year round, primarily for wiping hands and faces (occasionally the table, too). The color is actually pretty helpful, because we often eat beet and tomato soup, so I don't worry about getting the napkins stained.
The blue and white cloths on the bottom are for hand drying and drying dishes. I try not to use these for the toddler either, because they stain easily.
I have been amazed at how much I don't miss paper towels, now that I have enough cloths to really run the kitchen. We go through 3 or 4 a day sometimes, but I know that I am doing the eco-friendly thing, so I feel really good about it.
How about you? Have you ever thought about switching up your routine to include more eco-friendly practices?