Every year, Americans use 13 billion pounds of paper towels. Or, 13,000,000,000 pounds, if you prefer. That means that every day, 51,000 trees are cut down to replace the trees that were cut down to make paper towels.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes, at our house, our "green" decisions are as much about saving money as they are about helping the environment. It's nice that so many choices support both goals. We've been working hard to reduce our use of paper towels, which means less money spent and fewer trees cut down.
In our kitchen, we keep a basket of wash cloths and small hand towels that aren't quite nice enough to put in the bathrooms but aren't quite grubby enough for the rag basket. There are also some bar towels thrown in there for good measure, and the odd dish rag here and there. The basket keeps things looking tidy, but it's easy to grab a towel to wipe up messes. Another smaller basket holds baby washcloths for wiping Abby's face after she eats. We also have two dish towels: one for drying dishes and one for drying clean hands. We generally only use paper towels to pat meat dry.
What to do with the dirty or damp towels? I have a wet bag that hangs in the kitchen. All of our used towels, cloth napkins, and bibs go in there until it's laundry time. (Check the store for some cute kitchen wet bags).
In my sewing basket, I have a prettier solution: a roll of "unpaper" towels that snap together around a roll and can hang on a regular paper towel dispenser. I picked colors that match our kitchen for a little extra flair. It cost about $30 to make the roll, however, and I already had cloths that work just as well with no extra money at all.
Join me in a challenge: think of one thing you use paper towels for and use cloth instead. What one thing will you choose?