Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reducing our Paper Waste

Today, many blogs are sharing tips for how to conserve more and waste less in honor of Earth Day. While I think it is good that there is a day to help us remember that we need to take care of our planet, I also think it is more important to be a good steward of the planet on a daily basis. For our family, this means taking practical steps to make our daily routine more "green".

One of the biggest things that we have done over the past year is working to reduce the amount of paper waste we throw out. We used to go through a TON of paper towels, and often it was just for something as simple as spilled water on the counter or floor. The same was true for paper napkins - we'd use them for something little and then toss the napkin in the trash.

So, about this time last year, I went to Walmart and bought a pack of 18 washcloths for $4. We keep these in our napkin holder near the table. It looks a little funny, but they sure get the job done.

When I need to wipe up condensation from the table after dinner, I use a washcloth. If I'm wiping down the counter tops after cleaning up the kitchen, I use a washcloth. To clean off my daughter's sticky fingers and face after a meal, we grab a washcloth (instead of a wet wipe!).
After they've been used, we make a pile in the kitchen, which I take to the laundry room at night to be washed with the next load. Since we have so many, we never run out, and I actually prefer them to paper towels! A regular wash cloth is thicker so it gets grime up better AND cleans better when it is wet. I try not to cringe when we are over at people's houses and see them going through paper towels sometimes!
We've cut way back on our paper towel usage and we use no paper napkins (except if we're having a party). I know we've saved a ton of money on paper products, but we've also drastically reduced the amount of paper waste that we throw out. It's great to see all of the good things that have come from such a simple change.
Have you started anything in the last year that has cut down on your waste? Using washcloths is a super easy place to start! Also, think about going through your fridge once a week to see what food needs to be used up before it goes can check back tomorrow to see how we did this week with Food Waste Friday!


  1. Yep, I bought washcloths too last year, however one of the batches
    I got from Walmart were really cheap and not very soft. I would like to get some more to have around. We started cloth diapering last July and recycling too. Just learned about composting yesterday when I took the boys to the library, so that might be next on the list!

  2. Today at the store, I discovered "recycled" Reynold's Wrap for sale, and the bag of Sun Chips I purchased has compostable packaging. It's almost impossible NOT to live green these days! :)

    We, too, minimize our paper use ... right down to my note paper - this is often a recycled envelope.

    Something new I've had success with to cut down on waste, and use less energy, is to make TWICE as much of a meal/appetizer/dessert (only until my feezer is full). I simply serve one half, and freeze the other. Makes life simpler, and is easy on the pocketbook! ;)

    And your idea about going through the fridge each week is a wise one. Secretly, I just LOVE finding ways to "use up what we have". Some of my best meals were discovered this way - like last night's "Cream of Wheat Griddlecakes" (my daughter called them "gourmet pancakes" - wow!).

    Happy Earth Day!

  3. I took an old towel and old t-shirts and cut them into pieces. I use them mostly for cleaning. The old t-shirts work well for washing windows and mirrors. They leave less lint behind than towels.


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