Now that we’ve gotten started with some basic homemade cleaners you can use for cleaning all around your home, I want to take the next two days to cover another very important aspect of green cleaning: using cloth instead of paper towels.
While it’s definitely important to make the switch from toxic, chemical-filled cleaning products, to safe, natural, non-toxic and homemade cleaners, if you’re using paper towels or other disposable cleaning items to clean, you’re still not being as eco-friendly as you could be.
One of the main questions/objections I get about this topic is the environmental impact of using cloth instead of paper and having to wash and dry the cloth between every use, and isn’t it just better to use a little paper towel and then throw it away?
With everything that goes into the production of a paper towel – harvesting the wood and turning it into paper, including bleaching it (which is one of the worst things for the environment), then packaging it and shipping it, driving to the store to buy it and bring it home, where you use it one time and then throw it in the garbage, which then has to be collected and transported to the landfill – the reality is that the paper has a much larger negative impact on the environment than cloth.
A cloth rag only has to go through that production process one time and then you can reuse it hundreds of times (or more), instead of having to repeat that production process over and over and over, every time you use a paper towel.
If you’ve been a die-hard paper towel user though, it may be hard to think about making the switch to cloth wipes and rags for cleaning. Making a successful switch from paper to cloth involves finding a system that works for you and your family, and creating the habit of reaching for, using, and washing your cloth, instead of reaching for a paper towel and tossing it in the garbage.
One simple step you can take to begin to make the transition from paper to cloth, if you’re not ready to ditch the paper completely yet, is to move your paper towels to somewhere really inconvenient, where you can’t just easily grab one and use it without thinking. This could be to the back of the cabinet underneath your sink, to a shelf in your linen closet, or down to your basement.
Then, put your cloth in a convenient and easy to reach location; a kitchen drawer, or a pretty basket or container on the counter. Now, when you would normally grab for a paper towel to clean up a spill, wipe the counter, or dry your hands, reach for your cloth instead. And, once you see how much better cloth works than paper towels, you will have even more motivation to make a habit of using cloth for all of the cleaning around your home.
Have you made the switch to cloth instead of paper for cleaning your home? If not, what is holding you back?
Go here to read all the posts in the 31 Days to Green Clean series.
Top Photo Credit: storebukkebruse/Flickr
Linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.
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