Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Paper Towel Issue

Paper towels are a hot button issue for my family. We seem to go through them at lightening speed. Which just seems like a waste to me! If you spill a glass of milk, you can easily use a sponge right? Well in my house it seems like the bigger the amount of liquid spilled, the more we will just reach for a roll of paper towels.

I keep a dozen or so cotton dish towels around for spills like that too. But now that I have thought about it a little, I might finally understand the thought process behind wasting half a roll of paper towels. For a spill of something like a glass of milk, it's a yucky sticky mess. If you soak up all the milk with a paper towel, you can just throw it all away. Whereas if you use a dish towel, a few days later you have to confront it again as a damp sour smelling lump in your hamper. It is just me, but I feel that that is worth it to use the towel and suck it up when laundry day comes. DH prefers the easy paper towel though, so we keep buying them. I am starting to get my way sometimes when what is spilled is a glass of water or something non-offensive like that.

I think I might have finally found the thing to get us off the paper towels (or at least a drastic reduction). Seventh Generation. Sorry, this is not news breaking stuff. Virtually everyone I know uses this brand, but today I learned that their paper towels use 100% recycled paper, no chlorine, and at my grocery store they were $5 for three rolls (??!!). I went to grab one yesterday and I thought twice about using them. In fact, I finished the job with the sponge. Whatever the motivation is, consuming fewer paper products are a good thing. FYI-I started using to order Seventh Generation products like dish washing detergent and counter top dish soap. So far I am super happy. In case you guys don't will ship for free on order greater than $50 and they literally have EVERYTHING that you need to raise children. Seriously.

The thing that moved me the most was the quote on the front of the package: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generation." This is from the Great Law of the Iroquois. And it is a humbling thought because so much of what we do in business, agriculture and foreign policy is not good for future generations. Maybe there is hope for us yet.


  1. In the UK, washing machines are almost always in the kitchen. So, our rags go straight into the machine and, with two boys, we do a load a day so we don't have to worry about the 'fusty' smell!

  2. Which raises the question of which has the greatest environmental impact - using paper towels and throwing them away or washing and re-using cloth ones? I'm not sure the answer is as clearly in favor of cloth towels as you assume.