A Little Bit Greener – Letting Go of Paper Towels

July 29th, 2014 Comments Off on A Little Bit Greener – Letting Go of Paper Towels

Paper+Towel+HolderI was inspired recently to live just a little bit greener.

Many years ago, I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of living a totally green lifestyle. I used cleaners and detergents that had all kinds of fillers and chemicals in them. I had no idea how to maintain a garden. I used paper products and didn’t recycle. It felt a bit overwhelming to change habits that I had grown up with. But one day, I realized that all I had to do was start with one thing.

Years later, those “one things” have turned into many things. I recycle, I garden, I make a lot of my own cleaners and detergent. Those little changes have morphed into big lifestyle transformations. My family is living a much greener lifestyle. I feel a little more connected to the earth. And I just added “one more thing” to the list.


I visited a friend recently who doesn’t use them. We ate. We cleaned. We created all kinds of things in her kitchen – ALL without using paper towels. It may seem silly, but I was genuinely astonished that you could live, cook and clean without grabbing a paper towel at every turn.

When I came home, I began to notice how many of these tree killing, carbon dioxide producing towels we mindlessly went through every day. I bought the giant sized package every two weeks, using them for everything from drying our hands to cleaning up dog vomit from the floor. When I became conscious of how many we were using, I talked to the family and we made the decision to quit buying them.

Napkins in Bowl

Instead of buying the bulk sized paper towel bundle, I bought cloth napkins and kitchen towels. I gathered up all our old rags and created a community of them underneath our kitchen sink for cleaning up the nastier messes.


It was working well. We were doing it! But to my dismay, we were creating more laundry. No one wanted to use the same napkin twice because we could never quiet decipher who’s napkin was who’s. So they went to the laundry each time. I was diligent  in keeping them washed, but knew we needed a better solution.

Then I visited another friend. I was helping her unpack some boxes and saw that she had some beautiful napkin rings. This wasn’t a matching set, but several  uniques rings – not one of them the same as the other. My friend told me that she put them all in a pile and had each family member choose one for the week. That way, they could always put their slightly used napkin back into the napkin ring until it was dirty enough for the laundry.


Napkin Rings 1I took the family the next day and let everyone pick out their favorite napkin ring. We bought some brightly colored cloth napkins and came home and set our places with our new table attire. It truly personalized our table and helped us to be more mindful about throwing things into the laundry that might not really need washing. Better for me. Better for the earth.

We’ve lived a whole month without buying paper towels. My hope is that this month will turn into two months and then a year and then years. It’s a small thing, but it makes me feel so much better when I’m being nice to the earth.


Napkin Circle 1

What’s “one thing” you can change in your daily life to live a bit greener and feel more connected to the earth? Can you challenge yourself to make the change and see how it goes? Who knows, it might be easier than you think!

If you’ve made a change that’s impacting the earth in a good way, please let me know about it. I’m always looking for that next “one thing” I can add to my list.



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