No More Paper Towels!

So I kind of forgot to post a change for September, but now I am back on track. For those of you that don’t know, One Small Change is basically a challenge to make one environmentally friendly change per month to reduce your carbon footprint.

We have recently made the switch to using cloth napkins and rags in place of paper towels. It was a change I had been planning to make for a while, but for some reason it seemed like a lot of work. A few weeks ago I was rummaging around in a bin at the thrift store and found a bag full of cloth napkins for $2. Granted, some of the colors are very mid-80’s, but those are great for the extra messy dinners that cause more staining. I also found a great deal on some adorable dish towels at IKEA (pictured above), and I just cut them in half and hemmed the edge to make a set of 6 napkins that match my kitchen. That switch was easy!

Now switching from paper towels to rags for household cleaning was a little bit harder for me because of the “gross” factor. I bought a set of colorful rags from Wal-Mart, and use them according to color. The yellow rags are for the dirtiest jobs like toilets and the cloth diaper pail. I wash those with the cloth diapers. I know they get clean, but for some reason I feel better knowing I’m not wiping the mirror with a rag that was previously used on the toilet.

So here is my “un-paper towel” system:

  • Cloth napkins for meals
  • The dish cloths we have had since we got married for wiping tables, counters and faces
  • The dish cloths I knit for washing dishes
  • Blue, green or white rags for bathroom counters, mirrors, shower walls, and floor messes
  • Yellow rags for toilets and the cloth diaper pail
I do keep an emergency roll of paper towels in the pantry for cleaning up the occasional nasty bug because I have major bug-a-phobia! But as long as they are out of sight, I never think to reach for them for the other stuff.
Making the switch was much easier than I thought. I’d love to hear about any changes you are making in the effort to be more environmentally friendly. Please leave a comment to share with the rest of us!



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  1. Um, LOVE IT! I want some for real. I was thinking the other day about how I needed to get you to make me some scrubbers and dish cloths 🙂

  2. We made the switch to cloth napkins which has been easy (yours are WAY cuter however). Once the move is complete I’d love to go to cloth cleaning rags. Too hard when you don’t have a washer/dryer hooked up for yourself. 🙂 Great idea on color coding, woman after my own heart. 🙂

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