Purging Paper Towels

March 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

About five years ago, long before the word “minimalist” had entered my lexicon, I stopped buying paper towels.

It was really just an experiment to see what things I could live without, and it was primarily motivated by two things:  1) I wanted to reduce the waste I sent to the landfill, and 2) I didn’t like how the roll of paper towels looked sitting atop my kitchen counter.

(Let’s keep in mind that I was once the woman you saw at Costco with the 48 rolls at a time – as a Type A neat freak I HATED running out of paper towels.)

So one day I just stopped buying them. For a while I used torn up T-shirts and chopped up old towels instead, and that was fine. But eventually I got tired of trying to store odd-sized things together, and I switched to terry cloth shop rags. I bought a bulk-sized stack several years ago (about 50 for $20 or so) and I’m still using the same ones.

I don’t recall ever missing those paper towels. I use my rags, and when they’re dirty I put them in a basket in my pantry. When that’s full, I dump them in the wash on the sanitary cycle. Easy peasy. I wash a load of rags a week (I keep them separate from all of my other washable items), and fold them while I’m watching The Amazing Race.

Ragtime! I store my rags here.

It’s commonsensical that reducing our use of disposable, one-use paper towels reduces our need to farm trees, keeps bleaching chemicals out of the water supply and helps minimize waste in general.  But on a simpler note (and don’t we all want to simplify?) paper towels – and disposable items in general – are just one more thing I don’t need.

What disposable item could you replace with something reusable?

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