As part of my journey to create less waste I’ve been trying to reduce paper in the kitchen as well. We focus a lot about reducing plastic because it causes the most damage to the environment but cutting down on paper is definitely useful as well. Thankfully there’s some easy small changes you can try. I’d love to hear your suggestions too!
Move the paper towel out of reach
Paper towels are marketed to us as a easy, convenient product so it shouldn’t come as a surprise how often we reach for them. I know that when they are nearby I grab for them without thinking about whether I actually need to use one. So, I put them out of eyesight, in a cupboard, so I actually have to stop and think before I use more paper towel. It’s a great way to help break the habit and work out exactly when and I why I think I need them.
Stock up on alternatives
Reusable cloths are the obvious replacement to paper towels for cleaning up spills and the like around the kitchen and the home. Start building up a stockpile of them as you transition away from paper towels so you will have plenty on hand no matter how much cleaning is required. A great way to start is to re-purpose old towels and other natural-fibre based products into cloths which are particularly good for ultra messy times. I also love these organic cotton cloths that have stitching which makes them great for scrubbing dishes or bench tops.
Keep the reusable cloths in easy reach
In the same way that putting paper towels out of reach helps reduce paper in the kitchen, you need to put the alternative in easy reach! Keep them with your kitchen cleaning supplies and make sure you have enough there to keep you going between loads of washing. Just like most of us keep tea-towels hanging off our oven handles so we can easily grab them, aim for a similar approach with cleaning cloths.
Replace paper napkins with reusable ones too
Reducing paper towel use is by far the biggest way for me to reduce paper in the kitchen, but paper napkins are a culprit as well. I don’t use napkins regularly at meal times, but I do when I have people over or go on picnics. Instead, I now have a collection of fabric napkins that I just throw in the washing afterwards. They don’t have to be fancy, and you can even buy some cotton and whip up your own pretty easily if you have a sewing machine.
Keep a small bin on hand
Once the cloths are in need of a wash you need somewhere easy to dispose them. Keep a little bin or bucket somewhere handy that you can throw them in until it’s time to do a load of washing. I’d recommend drying off any of the super wet cloths before adding them into the bucket to stop them all getting icky together! For any cloths that need a little extra effort to get clean, soak them in some warm water and vinegar before adding them to your next load of washing.
Buy recycled paper towel
The transition away from paper towel is often an iterative one, and I know I still like to keep some around the house for those times I still find it the best option. So, I make sure I buy good quality recycled paper towel, like the one from Who Gives A Crap. Actually, given it’s made out of a blend of bamboo and sugarcane it’s actually not technically paper towel at all! Plus they donate 50% of their profits so it’s a win all round.