Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Become a Paper-less Kitchen

First, let's get the most ask question out of the way....
'What's the big deal anyways? It's just a few paper towels.'
If you have ever handed a guest a cloth napkin or a dish towel for a mess,
and your not at a Crunchy Mother Play-date, then your going to get this.
Or maybe I just have strange people in my home.
It never fails, someone has to ask.
I use to say something cute like, 'Because I love doing laundry.'
But that is an lie and it also does not deter the more adamant ones.
So, how about some facts instead?
Did you know that 40% of the landfill is made up of paper products?
That is always shocking to me when I read that. That means 40% of what
is in there can be recycled. But people choose not to. Mindlessly tossing their paper
items in the trash. I use to be one of them. Using cloth deters that lazy mind of just tossing.
Besides, paper towels can NOT be recycled.
It is estimated that if each family cut back one roll of paper towels a year it would save over half a million trees each year. Just one less roll.
Because I am all about going big, my first thought was....if I forgo all of them think of how many trees would be saved??? And I like breathing air, so I am all about saving some trees. ;)
Furthermore, it take one or sometimes two WHOLE trees to make one roll of paper towels.
Let that sink in.
I will wait.
Mind boggling isn't it?
That is the effect I was going for.
At this point in the conversation I am usually faced with a person with their mouth agape.
Now it's time to sell this paper-less show!
I do one extra load of laundry a week for my cloth kitchen products. Not even a full load.
I was in cold. A little bit of homemade organic detergent (yes, another post, another time) and
if they are icky, some homemade oxyclean/bleach (yes yes yes, another time) helps as well.  
I line dry and I'm back in business.

What do we have in our cloth only kitchen?
Various cloth napkins. All picked up from the thrift store for less than $.10 each at the most.
We are a family of 5 , we eat 3 meals a day at home so for me I am comfortable with about 50
napkins. We don't need them every meal so this lasts a week.
Cleaning Cloths. This is a modge podge of rags. Some are worn out wash cloths. Some are towels that
had holes in them that I cut up for rags. Some are some neat microfiber cloths someone gave me. I save those for cleaning mirrors and windows. These cloths are used to scrub counters, wipe up messes, dampen use for BBQ fingers at the table and so on.
Cloth Kitchen Towels. Again, all bought used at the thrift store for less than $.50 each. I have about 12 and need more. I have found after a few years doing this that traditional dish towels are nice but good quality hand towels meant for the bathroom are much more absorbent. Often they are tad bit larger. I am not a person whose hanging towel on her stove must match the throw rug at the sink, so this works for me. These cloth are use drying dishes, cleaning up spilled drinks and whatever else you can think of.

Laundry like I said is once a week. Maybe a half to 2/3 of a load. I wash in cold and then line dry. It
really isn't an issue. Maybe because I have solved the laundry battle in our house is why I can say this!
YES, another time and another post. It's a recurring theme around here.


Bama Girl said...

Thanks for sharing this post! I too, am trying to go paperless in the kitchen. I just bought a couple of flour sack towels to cut up and use for napkins. But I like the idea of purchasing kitchen towels and such at the thrift store! Will be on the lookout for these! Love your blog! Your newest follower! Blessings from Bama!

Chele said...

We are blessed here in South Florida with abundant of good thrift stores, such a blessing for us. Thanks for stopping by and becoming our FIRST follower! :)

Denise said...

We are a paper free kitchen as well. We do have some napkins in a drawer from fast food places or whatever that we use when we oil our cast iron after washing.

I keep all of our kitchen stuff in a small trash can under the sink. That way no one has to fold anything and our limited drawer space isn't taken up with towels.

I got in on a huck towel co-op a while back (those blue hospital towels) and we use those for everything.

Chele said...

I've never heard of a huck towel but now I will have to google them. :)