You know how it is when you’ve been doing something out-of-the-ordinary for so long that you forget it’s out-of-the-ordinary?
That happened to me at work last week. I was asked to write an article for our newsletter suggesting people stop using paper towels, and I asked – in all seriousness – “People still use paper towels?”
Okay, yeah, I knew there were people still using paper towels. I mean, I see them in stores and commercials. I’m not completely dense.
But you see, I work for Franciscan Sisters now and this newsletter goes out to their Associates (lay people who take a vow to learn and live the Franciscan way of being). And as Franciscans tend to be more ecologically-minded than your average Joe or Joan, I figured telling them to use cloth rather than paper was kind of … basic?
So imagine my surprise when after the newsletter is emailed out to our 378 Associates, I start getting comments both online and in-person. People loving the idea and asking me how hard it was for me to make the switch (zero hardship involved).
And then I’m asked to send the article to the convent’s “Green Committee” so they can add it to their website. And then they asked if they could have any of my future “green tip” articles as well.
So that’s cool.
Anyway, since it’s going to be on their website, I figured I could share it here too. (See below.)
For the record, when I state in the article I stopped using paper towels five years ago, it’s really more like 10. (I didn’t want to come across cocky.) Also, please make note of the graphic – I created it myself and my pride knows no bounds.
Green tips for a greener world
If you’re interested in walking more gently on our Mother Earth, here’s an easy tip you can do today: ditch the paper towels and use cloth instead.
More than likely, that paper towel you used to wipe up a little spill was made from virgin wood pulp from the boreal forest of northern Canada, one of the last big, intact forests in the world. What’s more, while paper towels are a paper product, they aren’t recyclable because the fibers are too short to be used again. Yet when paper towels break down in a landfill, they generate methane —a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide (Stanford Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2010).
Given these facts, cloth towels make a lot of sense! Making the switch is both easy and far more cost effective, and given the array of different designs and colors available, it’s likely one of the more enjoyable green choices you can make.
Here’s a another way to do it: cut a flour sack towel in fourths and sew the cut edges (two sides per square). Keep them in a small basket or bowl where you used to keep your paper towels, making the switch to cloth even easier. (I’ve been using these for over five years now— they’re very absorbent and if they get stained, they can be bleached.)
But what about those times when only paper towels will do? In that case, choose one made of recycled content. For a list of some of the better brands, as well as other eco-friendly options, go to: https://ourhappyplanet.org/7-best-recycled-paper-towels/
We’ll be posting more green tips in this feature as we find them. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for future tips, let us know!
Back to me: One of the Sisters asked me where I keep my “non-paper” towels. I used to keep them in small basket on the counter, but it was misplaced in our move.
Recently I bought a new basket from the convent’s gift shop. It was made by one of the Sisters.
Lot more attractive than a roll of Bounty, don’t you think? 😉