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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Works For Me: UnPaper Towels

I recycle. I go easy on electricity. I try to buy items with minimal (read: small, tidy) packaging. I use reusable bags at the grocery store.

I still hate CFL bulbs.

You can pry my "carbon credits" from my cold, dead hands.

So my choice to ditch the paper towel habit, although seemingly ecologically motivated, is truly due to only one kind of green -- the cha-ching kind.

A year ago we had no kitchen, and no running water on the first floor. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. I was able to cook in the oven (located conveniently in my dining room) and microwave (see above). All this was only a few steps away from the fridge ... you get the picture. No water on the first floor meant washing dishes in a utility sink in the basement. You know, the kind into which a washing machine drains.

I donned the martyr robe but not the pants; I lugged down pots, pans, coffee mugs and serving spoons, but we used disposable plates, bowls, cups and utensils. For. A. Year. I contributed personally to deforestation, and the amount of trash we generated in that time ... scandalous!

Because we had no running water, sticky fingers and table cleaning and all other general cleaning was done with paper towels. I bought WATER, too, by the gallons, and made my own wipes. When paper towels were on sale and I had coupons, I stocked up. When I discovered the lovely softness of Viva towels, my heart went pitterpat; where had these been all my life?

But then, as we started PAYING for the new kitchen, I started trying to think of ways to cut back. What purchases were habit, that I could rethink? Not just avoiding the impulse buy, or putting off the big-ticket purchase till we could pay cash, but what little things were bit-by-bit biting us in the tush? I use coupons faithfully, I look for sales, try to match it all up ... but what could I just stop buying?

Paper towels.

Unpaper towels: Made In The Red Barn

I replaced my upright paper towel holder with a Towel House from etsy.com.  Rationale: it would be hard to kick the paper towel habit.  I didn't need a full-sized microfiber cloth for the little wipe ups.  I didn't want to wipe down a sticky face with a dish rag.  So one day, instead of reaching for the paper, I was pulling out one of these babies ------->.

I still love the feel of Viva towels, and give them (especially in select-a-size) a hearty thumb up.  I have an emergency roll under the sink for bodily functions TP can't handle, putting over bacon in the microwave, and drying out my cast iron pans.  That's it.  It's practically buried under the sink, and hence, I don't use it.

Going cloth in lieu of paper.  It works for me.

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