There’s a lot of talk these days about paper towels. Some folks use them without giving much thought to when and how many they use. Others may be a little more judicious in their use of paper towels, opting to keep them on hand for just a few necessary jobs. But does it really make a difference which tool we choose for wiping up spills and messes?
Paper towels were invented in 1907 by the Scott Paper Company. Popular belief is that they were created as a reuse of a rail car full of toilet paper that didn’t meet specifications. In 1922 individual paper towels began to be regularly mass produced, and in 1931 rolls of paper towels were first introduced for use in the kitchen.
Today, paper towels are a staple of daily life for many of us. But, however convenient this single-use product may be, their environmental toll is not insignificant.
Obviously, one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of paper towels is simply to use fewer of them.
According to The Paperless Project:
I have always made my own napkins from fabric. I always take a wet travel size envirocloth with me when I go out to eat: for myself and washing up the little kids. I always have a few damp kitchen cloths with me when traveling. So easy to avoid the use of paper towel.
Thanks for the great ideas, Sharon!
Finally! We have eliminated paper towel use! Enviro cloths for wiping go in the wash. Napkins at our table! And now, a kitchen cloth to drain bacon on…that was the last step. No more paper towels here!
Way to go, Christy! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your inspiring success!
A kitchen cloth or our all purpose kitchen cloth? I’ve wondered what I should do, not give up bacon!
All Purpose Kitchen Cloth. Grease rinsed out with dish soap!
I am now ONE MONTH without paper towels, and I never knew it could be so easy!! I’m also now using the shake shake fold method in public restrooms.. I even shared the method with strangers at a movie theater! lol!
That’s wonderful, Gingi! Keep up the great work—especially sharing with others!
It’s actually been a couple of years now since last time we bought paper towel! My 5 years old son actually found a old roll of paper towel in the basement a couple of weeks ago and asked ”what’s this?” lol
It’s been difficult to get my husband out of the habit of using paper towels. However, when I explained that our Magnetic Enviro Cloth hanging on the side of the fridge is our Paper Towel for the week, it helped tremendously. Any spill, even on the floor, can be cleaned up with this cloth, then rinsed out. Thrown back on the side of the fridge to dry, it’s ready for the next spill! I’m loving our reusable napkins and still working on getting him to use these! Can’t wait to try the new kitchen wipes!!!! I want the day to come when he no longer adds Paper Towels on the shopping list!
I agree that being responsible with how we use trees is important, however, it is also important to remember that trees are a renewable resource and an entire field for labor and production and economy boosting jobs.
The lumber industry takes care of jobs. Other uses are just contributing to over deforestation.
There’s more to responsible forestry than just cutting down trees. Trees are a renewable resource and understanding the whole of tree farming is crucial to keeping our forests healthy and thriving.
Yes, I still use paper towels, mostly in the kitchen for grease and water regulation in stored produce, but not as much as I used to. I use Norwex microfibre products and water for my house cleaning.
Can you please point me to the primary source for this statistic: “To make just one ton of paper towels, 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted.” Thank you so much!
Thanks for your question, Jacey. We found this information information at this site:
Please note we have changed “polluted” to “consumed.”