We did a little thing here at Casa McGee that I think and hope is both good for our wallet and good for the environment.
For years, we’ve gone through paper towels at an alarming rate. We’ve used paper towels for pretty much anything and everything. We’ve used them to clean up spills, of course. We’ve also used them in place of napkins and hand towels. We use them to cover foods that needed a cover in the microwave.
I mean, we used them for just about everything.
When you buy Bounty or Kirkland paper towels at Costco, you get 12 rolls, and we’d go through a case about every six weeks. The cost would usually be $20 (for Kirkland) to $30 (for Bounty) per case, so let’s call it $25 per case. So $25 per case, and a case every six weeks … if my math is right, that’s a little more than $200/year on paper towels.
Well, earlier this summer we made a little change. There was an article in Consumer Reports where one of the magazine’s writers confessed that he, too, was a serial paper towel user. But he bought a couple dozen white washcloths and started using them in just about every instance where he’d normally use a paper towel.
So we decided to give it a try. We now have this little two-shelf rack right next to the sink — same place the paper towels used to be — with 25 white washcloths. Total cost at Target was something like $16.
We use the washcloths as napkins. We use them to wipe and dry countertops and dishes that don’t go through the dishwasher. And then we wash and reuse them.
We still use paper towels for things that involve, say, chicken — don’t want raw chicken to touch a washcloth, don’t want raw chicken juices to soak around the washing machine as we clean the washcloths, etc.
So far, we’re now using one roll of paper towels every two weeks … or three every six weeks. Quite a change from 12 every six weeks. So we’ll end up spending about 75% less on paper towels every year, and we’ll be putting a lot less paper towels into the trash, too.
Maybe not a huge deal, but it still feels like the right thing to do.