Are paper towels destroying the environment?

Paper towels...the handy little paper rectangles that you can rely on for all of your messy problems. Right? Not quite. Sadly, paper towels actually cause as many problems as they fix. 

Everyday, the United States alone produces 3,000 tons of paper towel waste ( source ). That means that every day we are producing the same amount of weight as a car in paper waste. Not only is the waste amount insane, but the destruction of trees has an even more shocking number. 544,000 trees could be saved if every family in the United States used one less roll. Trees are essential, they are literally what keep us breathing!

Along with trees being abused, paper towels also increase greenhouse gas emission, water pollution and use n' abuse a lot of energy. That's a substantial amount of destruction for a silly paper that you wipe a mess with and throw out immediately. 

Environmental issues not enough to make you reconsider? Well you'll be stunned to discover burden they're causing to your wallet. 

When you're at the market, chances are you've got paper towels on your list of things to grab. They're a common staple in most households. Have you ever paid attention to how much you're paying for that roll of paper? I'm not talking about the immediate purchase, but the long term amount spent.  Because these have become such a necessity for households, we rarely stop to consider the price we're actually paying. 

I live on my own and go through roughly one roll of paper towels every week to week and a half. The average roll in California will cost me roughly $3 per roll. Multiply that by the 52 weeks in a year and I've come to spend over $150 on....silly paper towels. 

I use them once and then pretty much throw my money straight into the trash can. What a waste! How sad is it to know that something we spend our money on is harming the environment. I'm spending money to occupy our landfills with my waste, kill more trees, produce more carbon dioxide and pollute our water. All because I have been uneducated on the alternatives to the traditional paper towel....until now!

I've done a great deal of research on the alternatives and have found quite a few that I would like to share with you. 

  • Recycled Paper Towels - probably the most easy to adapt to. I don't mean go dig in your bin and find ones you've already used - yuck! I mean that most stores are selling paper towels that are made out of recycled matter. While they are still paper and can cause damage to the environment, the negative impact is not as great as your traditional paper towels. 
  • Unpaper Towels. These are becoming more and more popular, especially on Etsy. They're basically a dish cloth with a patterned fabric on one side and the terry cloth (towel fabric) on the other. I've seen some seriously CUTE ones. A lot of the styles even have little button snaps so they can be rolled together and fit around an average size paper towel holder. I hope to do a tutorial soon on how to make your own, but if you don't have the craft gene - CHECK ETSY!
  • Dish Cloths. If you don't want some fancy cloth towel with button snaps, then this is probably your best bet. I have quite a few dish cloths that I keep handy. When I make a mess I just clean it with a dish rag and some natural all purpose cleaner and toss it in the laundry. Quick and simple!
  • PeopleTowels. I haven't personally tried this product, but I absolutely LOVE the statement and cause behind it. They've got all kinds of statistics on their site, which you can find here. Basically, this company focuses on not using paper towels even in public facilities. They sell towel sets that you bring with you to work, public bathrooms, pretty much anywhere you would typically use a paper towel. And they show you just how beneficial it could be to switch to their towels for just one year!

The only ones who can fix our environment, are the people living in it. The damage we've done is just that...done! There's no going back but the future can be bright. So I've got a goal for you this week, replace one roll with one alternative. See how you like it. Maybe you'll love it, maybe you'll hate it. If you hate it, try a different alternative. Just improve on something that you know will be better for your wallet and the Earth in the long run! You don't have to completely cut them out of your life, just try downsizing a little.

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