I have been called a tree hugger on more than one occasion. The first time someone said that to me, I found it quite odd. When I think “tree hugger” I tend to imagine some drugged-out hippie who doesn’t bathe regularly and would like all humans to be eradicated from the earth so that the animals and flowers can have their space. As time has progressed, however, I have become more open to embracing the term as my own.
Most of my steps toward an “organic” or “green” or “natural” lifestyle are less about saving the trees and more about saving money. I like to spend money on things like books, not throw it away on disposable crap and prepackaged foods. I am always working towards the goal of making less trips to the grocery store for fewer items. (Particularly when it comes to things like cleaning supplies and beauty products.) This brings me to my next point:
What is the point of a paper towel? First of all, the whole term sounds like an oxymoron to me. “Towel” and “paper” should not be in the same phrase together. I always envision myself stepping out of the shower to a big roll of Bounty, The Quicker Picker Upper only to find myself inexplicably covered in little white bits of “towel” that only prompts me to return to the shower anyway.
It never fails when someone comes to my house. They always end up asking me for the paper towels. I do not buy paper towels or paper napkins. Ever. I use dish towels. Even at $1 a roll and 1 a week, that’s $52 a year. That is two orders to Amazon that qualify for free super saver shipping. There is simply no need to waste money on paper towels.
I think people are worried about getting their dish cloths dirty. I get it, I really do… but what else are they for? Did you buy them to clean things? Or to decorate your kitchen drawers? This is not me being snarky. It is a legitimate question. Some of my dish towels look pretty pathetic, but they still do the job. I do not give them any special treatment. I do not bleach them or clean them with spot cleaner. I suppose you could if you were really into clean. I just throw them in the wash with whatever else is in there. (I don’t even bother to color sort them.) For the really yucky things, I use what my grandmother would call rags. These are old towels that I have cut into smaller pieces once they gather so many holes they are no longer functional for full body use. Sometimes if a mess is really disturbing (and you probably don’t want me to describe that for you), I throw the rag away when I am done.
I also use cloth napkins. When people come to dinner, they think this is something fancy I have done for company. Nope, not the case. I am just toooo cheap to buy paper napkins. It is something akin to wiping your hands with your hard-earned cash and then throwing it into the trash can. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on something smashing? Like a new pair of shoes? (I’ve really been obsessing about new shoes lately!)
Give it a try. It really doesn’t create that much more laundry. If you have kids over the age of two, they can fold the dish towels.
You can also feel good about yourself and how trendy and “green” your lifestyle is. You are out championing sustainability, slaving over your laundry pile to get those horrible dish towels clean! All in the name of the trees! The energy wasted producing the paper napkins! The fossil fuels consumed shipping them across the country! Oh, and did I mention the negative attitudes that disposable lifestyles create in us and in our kids? First it is paper towels, next it is disposable marriages and even… yikes—disposable parents! Yes, that’s right. Pretty soon your kids are putting you in the nursing home or moving you to one of those states that allow euthanasia, all because you taught them it was okay to use and abuse and then toss in the trash the humble paper towel.
Think about it. It only takes a few small steps in a better direction to improve your life and the environment.
Plus cloth napkins are prettier.