Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tales of a paper towel

My roommate keeps paper towels in the bathroom that she uses after she washes her hands. My heart breaks a little bit every time I see her tear one off and throw it in the trash. However, her behavior has made me realize that the paper towel industry has made us forget the alternative completely — a reusable towel (you know, that regular, old-fashioned, cloth towel). 

Image courtesy of

Instead of using a paper towel for everything and then throwing it out, consider using a regular towel instead that can easily be washed and reused. If you buy a single towel for $5 or a roll of paper towels for $1, that towel will last you more than 5 years, but that roll will most likely be gone in a few weeks. Some families will save more than $100 a year by no longer using paper towels. 

It seems like we have forgotten that these:
Image courtesy of
 Come from these:
Image courtesy of Seventoten

Paper towels are not only manufactured from trees that need to be cut down and processed, but they also take a great deal of chemicals to make. In the process of creating the paper towels the wood is bleached and coated in chemicals. Anything that is made out of wood and is as highly processed as paper towels also use a great deal of energy, not to mention the fuel and emissions to take the tree from the forest, to the factory, and ship it to you. Plus, the carbon reducing trees you cut down to clean up your spilled milk go straight to the landfill and increase our carbon emissions. 

So the next time you spill something or want to clean your windows (or any other surface), put the paper towels back in the cabinet and pull out your regular towel instead. Your wallet and the environment will thank you. 

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