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Home » Waste and recycling

Disposable kitchen towel – can you give it up?

Submitted by on Thursday, 28 July 2011 Loading Add to favourites  19 Comments

bamboo-paper-towel-roll-holderAhhhh, disposable paper towels in the kitchen. Man I LOVE these!

I used to get through one or two rolls PER WEEK!

Then I was challenged to give them up. Battling with OCD it was a tough call, but I did manage it.

I find myself slipping back on the bandwagon (I keep an emergency roll in the house) from time to time if I’m feeling depressed or anxious, but most of the time I manage to stay off the disposable kitchen roll and use washable cloths instead.

For this week’s “Change the world Wednesday” Small footprints has asked us to avoid using or buying paper towels for 7 days.

As I’m already doing this how can I join in?

Well Argentum Vulgaris has upped the ante by challenging us to eliminate serviettes from our lives. I don’t use those either and flatly refuse them wherever I go.

Ecolicious Mama challenged us to carry cloth napkins with us for times when we need a napkin “on the go” such as eating out or packing a lunch; Hmmm, this I do too – I usually carry around a flannel that has been wrung out and has a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on it – my instant ‘antibacterial wipe!’

Finally Liz & Gaby challenge us to not only switch to cloth towels but to reuse old clothing (T-shirts, etc.) instead.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do. I don’t want to be a party pooper and put my feet up in the corner so I’m going to do something I’ve been thinking about for a year or two.

I’m going to make and use wee cloths.

Eeeeek.

Yep, instead of reaching for a couple of squares of toilet paper after a pee I’m going to make my own reusable, washable cloths and use those instead.

Fortunately the bathroom is right next to the kitchen and when you walk out of the bathroom you pass the washing machine; so really, it couldn’t be easier could it?

I have a bag of clothes ready for the charity shop, so I shall have a rummage and see what I can cut into little squares. I don’t want to do any sewing, so I don’t know if I’ll find anything suitable. If not, it might have to be an old bath towel. I have plenty of holey ones in the cupboard.

I will NOT be using these for any other toilet business; that’s far too wacky for comfort, but I think I can try wee cloths in order to save toilet paper.

What about you – could you stop buying kitchen towel for a week or are you ready to take the wee cloth challenge?

Edit: I really rubbish at sewing and I know the idea of doing my own sewing will make me procrastinate and then fail at this challenge, so I’ve seen these on Etsy and have asked someone to make something similar for me from old scraps of material…

cloth-wipes

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19 Comments »

  • That’s pretty hardcore right there. I’ve been wanting to sew old shirts into cloths like you said for a while, but it’s just been an excuse for me not to do it.

  • OMGoodness … wee cloths. Wow!! At first I thought … no way. But then I got to thinking about diapers and how moms simply toss them into a bucket to soak until washing. So … why couldn’t we do the same with wee clothes. It should save an enormous amount of toilet paper. And … you know I have to add this in as an “up the ante”. Thanks, Mrs. Green … as always you are brilliant!

  • Pee pee cloths aren’t that gross, I promise! I wash my babies’ cloth diapers and use cloth wipes with them, so sometimes I grab a wipe instead of TP and throw it in the wet bag, then wash with the kids’ dipes. You can do it! That is totally upping the ante!!

  • Jennifer says:

    Wow, I’m with Mike: hardcore! I’m still in the ‘uh…I don’t think so’ phase — although I use cloth menstrual pads, and urine isn’t grosser than blood. I think it’s just a mental gap I need to close. Good for you for taking this plunge!

  • I am taking the CTWW challenge too! I actually ran out of paper towels a while ago and have been using rags and they work just as great! I am saving money AND the earth! Doesn’t get much better than that!!

    @tiffanystoybox

  • We gave up kitchen role some time ago and I did find it hard at first, it is so quick and convenient in wiping things up, and so absorbent. We soon got over it and like the microwave, cling film and other kitchen things it is easy to forget you ever had it! Very occasionally I think life would be easier with it but I have to remind myself there is a bigger picture here!

    Great article!

  • Judy says:

    There is nothing gross or wrong about this idea… and quite frankly, I’ve a bit fed up with the fussy germophobic prissiness that’s thoroughly pervaded Western culture. Personally, I think the more disconcerting side of our nation’s bathroom habits is the eschewment of cleaning with water in favor of dry toilet paper after BMs. I have a bidet in my house and use it regularly – in fact, I get a bit uncomfortable when I have to go #2 in a place without one. Doesn’t feel the same, you definitely get used to being clean.

    That said, I am FULLY on board with this idea and intent to implement it in my house as soon as possible. As I share my residence with less green-minded individuals, I’ll have to keep around some TP for them, but as for me… I plan to start a completely paper-free bathroom system ASAP. Thanks for sharing such a great idea!

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Mike Lieberman: I admire your honesty; are we gonna sew these cloths or just donate our textiles to the recycling bank?

    @Small Footprints: That’s my view too – just the same as washing out diapers…

    @Gaby @ Tmuffin: thanks for the support!

    @Jennifer: thanks Jennifer; let me know if you decide to join in – I bet you could write a sensational post on this topic 🙂

    @Tiffany’s Toy Box: Glad to hear things are working out well for you on this challenge; funny how ‘mistakes’ can lead to us putting some great new habits in place 🙂

    @russell davis: Thanks Russell; I see you’ve expanded your business – looks fantastic; well done you!

    @Judy: Hi Judy, thanks for taking time to leave your thoughtful comment and I hope your mission is successful – who knows your housemates might even pick up a small cloth one day and use it 😉

  • Terri says:

    So grateful for the reminder on this as I’ve been meaning to make pee cloths for quite some time. I use cloth wipes on my kids and as one is still in diapers it would be no problem to put them in the same bucket. Ok Mrs Green I’m in! (I love the Etsy ones, they make it look so elegant!)

    I use a lot of reusable washcloths in my kitchen but find the kitchen paper indispensable for cooking….we love fried plantains in our house so need something to drain the excess oil. Alternative suggestions anyone? (And yes I do grill them sometimes but I don’t want to all the time!)

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Terri: Hi Terri; great to have you on board. Welcome to the erm, club LOL! Ah yes, I can see that needing to drain fried food must be a challenge without kitchen roll; not sure on that one for a solution that would be hygienic

  • Barb says:

    I call them *wee wipes* and have been using them for quite a few years now. You wont go back to paper after trying cloth.

    Barb.

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Barb: thanks Barb; good to read confirming information 🙂

  • […] my eco-friends who said she always counted how many squares of toilet tissue each time. Then I saw this post on Little Green Blog which took this reducing tactic to a next level – moving to reusable cloth to replace […]

  • Annie says:

    Thanks for this! I have heard of the “family cloth” but just couldn’t get on board with the idea of #2 (despite years of cloth diapering and cloth wipes!) but the idea of a wee cloth I can handle! Baby steps, right?! Besides, I wee way more times than I do anything else! So it will have a huge impact as it is! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Annie: Hey Annie, thanks for your comment. Yup, #2 is stretching things a bit too far for me too and you’re right – baby steps are the way to go! GOod luck 😀

  • Lavi says:

    Hey, as it was said earlier, this is quite hardcore! :))
    I would like to suggest you another easier option, on my oppinion!

    I have learnt this after living in India for two years. There, traditionally, they use water instead of toilet paper. Yes of course, now a days, they have given up this sustainable practice in favour of the comfortable paper, but still, I have been put into some situations some time where I had no other option. They generally have a small tap next to the toilet bowl, and a cup (traditionally silver or gold, because it is antibacterial). Toilet tap and cup, instead of paper. It is quite easy, and heck, if you dislike feeling ‘wet’ after washing, you can keep a personal towel to wipe dry, even a soap to wash with soap as well. I think it is a much easier practice, and cleaner too! 🙂

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Lavi: Hi Lavi; thanks for sharing your experience and insight. A bidet is something we’ve considered; I rather like the idea but then I’d be forever trying to decide if it’s better to use water or trees for paper LOL!

  • Jane says:

    One thing to consider is the amount of water used in making toilet paper. Resource use in toilet paper production varies from factory to factory. However, typically, making just one toilet roll uses 37 gallons water, not to mention 1.3 KWh electricity and 1.5 lb wood. Making the toilet roll from recycled paper reduces these figures but it then takes that paper out of use. It cannot be recycled again after being used as toilet paper! Therefore, it would perhaps be better to use the recycled paper to write on, then recycle it again. There is then the transportation of the toilet rolls to take into account. To cut down on water use in a bidet, other options might be to use a squirt of water from a suitable squirty bottle or to wipe with a damp cloth. Paper can only be recycled about 5 times anyway, so an alarming number of trees needs to be cut down each year to satisfy our demand for toilet paper.

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: So much to think about isn’t there? Thanks for sharing all your information; it helps us all to make empowered choices.