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November 05, 2009



I'm a paper towel addict, too. But I'm convinced that it's more efficient to get the pick-a-size kind. I almost always use a small sheet instead of a large one, and that's a 50% savings, right?


Oakland has a wonderful food waste recycling program, providing a bin for both yard trimmings and pretty much all food waste, including things like pizza boxes and Chinese food takeout containers. We already composted our vegetable and fruit waste, but you can't put meat or dairy products (or pizza boxes) in ordinary compost. Now -- no more problem! Very great.

I put very little down the garbage disposal, because of water pollution issues. Disposals are the devil's tool.

I also use rags for a lot of spills, which seriously reduces paper towel use. All this means that, along with paper/glass/plastic/metal recycling, my family of four accumulates about 1 brown paper grocery sack of actual landfill garbage a week. Most of that is non-recyclable plastic. I have also become unbearably sanctimonious.

Jen Rodis

I realized how many paper towels I was using to mop up my kids' faces and the kitchen counter after they were done eating and was a little embarassed. I bought a dozen green and white waffle weave cloths, and those are reserved for kid faces and hands only. They look way different from the rags for cleaning the kitchen (which look different than the rags used for cleaning the rest of the house...anal retentive - that's me!) That way, I know that the green-and-whites never had cleaning products or dead spiders on them. I keep a ventilated small wastebasket near the kitchen sink to keep dirty rags until I schlep them upstairs to the laundry. I cut my paper towel usage by at least two thirds that way.

My husband still uses three paper towels to mop up a molecule, but there's no changing him at this point. He's the other third of the paper towel usage, mostly.


I don't know if you have room in your yard for a compost bin, but you could compost the used paper towels, peach pits, corn cobs and husks, and other fruit and vegetable waste that won't go down the disposal. We don't actively manage our compost bin (that is, we don't turn it or anything like that) and even so, things decompose over time without smelling. We periodically throw a bunch of old leaves or newspaper or dead plants on top, and that seems to keep the odors down.


Like Wendy, our city garbage pickup has a green barrel for yard waste that also accepts food waste, including soiled paper. So, ideally, that's where our pizza boxes, banana peels, etc. end up. I say ideally because not every family member does a good job of making sure they don't toss them into the trash out of old habits (husband).

It's funny, I gave up paper napkins years ago, finding that cloth napkins are so much more efficient--one does the job of 10 paper napkins. Yet, I can't break the paper towel habit, either. (And I even used a Diva Cup prior to my hysterectomy.)


The last time we changed sheets (by which I mean stopped using a particular sheet, not, y'know, changed the sheets) I tore the old sheet into washcloth-sized pieces. I use them for spills, etc. and toss them right into the washer. It's cut way down on our paper towel use! I love to read about others who are as anal (no, make that conscientious) about recycling as I am!

By the way, the Moon Cup rocks! Seriously.

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