How to Stop Using Paper Towels: 8 Tips

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We only have one planet, and trees are not an infinite resource, however renewable. Plus, the production of paper towels causes considerable environmental damage. Everyone can make a difference by reducing their paper towel use. 

However, it’s a bit of a challenge if you rely on these products for daily cleaning. Here are eight tips on how to stop using paper towels. 

1. Silicon Sponges

Sponges are absorbent little mess picker-uppers — but they can also become repositories for germs. The solution? Switch to silicon. 

This material doesn’t harbor bacteria and viruses, significantly cutting down on waste. You can use them until they fall apart — usually around the 1-year mark. You can toss them in the dishwasher to clean them, and they won’t scratch the most delicate china. As a bonus, they make fabulous tools for removing pet hair from your furniture and clothes. 

2. Recycled Clothes 

Is it time to clean out your closets? Instead of tossing those old T-shirts, turn them into rags. The most absorbent materials include cotton, linen and flannel. 

Another alternative is to pick up inexpensive microfiber cleaning cloths that you can wash and reuse. You can even find washable models that come on a roll, like standard paper towels. However, it’s even more green to use materials you already have on hand. 

3. Cloth Napkins

This tip helps you elevate your everyday dining experience. It’s more than sitting down for a family supper when you set each plate with an elegantly rolled cloth napkin. You also do a kindness to the planet. 

You don’t have to get out the fancy white models for weeknight meals. Does your house feature rustic farmhouse decor? If so, checkered models can be used more than one day in a row if they don’t get too messy. Any pattern hides minor stains until laundry day. 

4. Newspapers 

Perhaps you hesitate to cut the paper towel cord because you can’t get streak-free mirrors and windows without them. If that’s your hesitation, take a tip from the cleaning pros. Use old newspapers as rags. 

Why? The newsprint won’t bleed onto the glass, given the non-porous surface. The absorbent nature of the medium ensures a streak-free shine with a minimal application of elbow grease. Of course, this tip only reduces your carbon footprint if you routinely have the daily or weekly paper delivered — but if you do, please don’t let it go to waste. 

5. Handy Stash Bins

Here’s the deal with paper towels — they’re convenient. You make a mess and rip one off from the handy counter dispenser, and viola. You take care of the spill. 

If you want to make replacing paper towels with cloth realistic, you need to make it convenient. Clean out that kitchen junk drawer and use it as a go-to stash bin for your new rag supply. To streamline the change process, choose a location that’s as natural to reach as that roller beneath your kitchen cabinet. Choose one near the top instead of the bottom, especially if someone in your family has a bad back. You don’t want pain to cause a reason for resistance. 

6. A Place for Dirties

The same principle applies when it comes to disposal. It takes less than two seconds to toss a used paper towel in the bin. Are your laundry facilities nearby? 

If not, please create a handy disposal container for your dirty rags. A simple 5-gallon bucket, available at any big-box hardware store, does the trick. So does an empty kitty litter tub. Stash it under your sink next to your waste bin so that no one has the excuse that they don’t know what to do with the used material. 

7. Getting the Family Onboard 

The best-laid plans to stop using paper towels often go awry when other people in your family keep going back to their old habits. How can you get them onboard? 

It helps if you all share the same values. Fortunately, you can look to your kids for help. If you homeschool your children, turn stopping paper towel use into a project. Can they calculate how many trees they saved? Such activities also make glorious science fair projects for littles in traditional schools. 

What if your spouse keeps reaching for the paper towels? Can you agree on a stop date when you won’t buy any replacement rolls? Setting a deadline can help them gradually reduce their use.

8. Make It Fun and Provide Rewards 

Life doesn’t have to be a chore. Nor does doing the right thing. Make it fun by giving yourself rewards. 

Perhaps you and the family can plan a special getaway picnic at your favorite nature preserve when you complete your first week free of paper towels. As you enjoy the wonders of nature, you can feel proud about doing your part to preserve it. 

How to Stop Using Paper Towels

It’s not too tricky to learn how to stop using paper towels. The eight tips above should streamline the process. 

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