Tuesday, October 7, 2008

no, no, we won't let go! (but it's so very easy)

I've noticed something very interesting in the latest polls here on method lust. While a great number of people have exclaimed "No more plastic bags!," almost just as many have said "I gotta have paper towels!"

No, no, no you don't, lusters. I'm telling ya, if you just give it a try, you'll be shocked at how easy it is. I've begun month three of no paper towels. Not a one. I have nine microfiber cloths that I use each week (I need nine cause of two messy, messy cats!) and I just wash, reuse, like, forever!

In fact, recently I went to Florida, and had a friend watch my cats. And I left two microfiber cloths on the countertop. When I got back, he mentioned how he couldn't find paper towels in my house (cause of course the cats had made a mess.) And I said "YES, I know, I use microfiber cloths now. I'm paper towel free!" to which he exclaimed he just KNEW it was some environmentalism statement of mine, but that he DID indeed end up using the microfiber cloths I had left out. So tada!

Over on Going Green, they've got the same idea! (See, I'm not as insane as everyone thinks I am! Well, alright, I probably am, but not when it comes to no more paper towels!)

"Can you tell that I am slowly but surely running out of disposable items here and are simply not replacing them? Yeah, sometimes it actually is easy going green. Last week I ran out of paper napkins and we've been using the cloth ones since then. My husband complained a little at first, but he seems to be over it already. Today I pulled the last paper towel off the dowel and I won't be buying any more.

I already have a drawer chock full of towels, washcloths and sponges in my kitchen why do I even need paper towels? I have no idea --- probably just because everyone else does. I'm a follower, you know. But not today, today I boldly go where no suburbanite has gone before -- paper towel-less.

I've found the best substitute for the paper towels to not be towels at all, but baby washcloths. They're smaller than regular waschloths and much thinner too, but they're still quite absorbant. This means they get the job done, without creating a whole extra load of laundry at the end of the day. If you don't already have a bunch of these, you can probably find them at garage sales or thrift stores. But if you have to buy new, try Walmart or BabiesRUs. They sell them in packs of 10 or 25 and that should be plenty.

I used to buy a roll of Bounty about every 2 weeks. Now I won't be buying any. Zilch. Nada. That's a savings of 26 paper towel rolls per year (Roughly $50 in cold hard cash plus all the trees I'm saving!)

Difficulty Level - 1 out of 5

Another super-duper easy one. Simply do nothing. The rest will work itself out. I promise you will not sit around wallowing in a puddle of your own, umm, puddles. You'll find something to wipe the mess up with."


Over on Tree Hugging Family, they've charted a quick and easy way to success! (I've updated it for method lust.)

"Here’s how the Paper Towel Challenge works:

Week One: Make a note of how many rolls of paper towels you use and what purposes you use them for. A piece of paper on the refrigerator should do the trick. If you haven’t switched to recycled paper towels, now would be a great time.

Week Two: Stop using paper towels for two of the purposes you listed. Use cloth instead. (Try purchasing a few microfiber cloths - anywhere from 3-9, depending on how messy you feel your family/household is. Or use old t-shirts, or rags you have around the house. Cut them up, tada, new cleaning cloths!) Try to reduce your paper towel usage by one half before the end of the month. If you used two rolls last week, try to only use one roll by the end of the month. If you used one roll last week, try to only use half a roll a week. Keep track of how many rolls you’re using and what you’re using them for.

Week Three: Have you made progress? If not, you may need to look again at how you’re using the paper towels. If you’re using them for napkins, try cloth napkins instead. If you’re using them for cleaning, use rags or sponges instead.

Week Four (method lust version): About out of paper towels? Let them run out. You've got your cleaning cloths now. Breath easy, you'll be fine. You're on your way to your first paper towel-less month! And if you didn't accomplish your goal, keep trying. If you met your goal, let’s party!"


Seriously, it's only the 7th. Start this month. You CAN do this. I get what you're thinking. I was freaking out when I first started doing this? "I'm supposed to clean up THAT, with THIS?! Wha?! No way!" But it's like television (or any other thing you say you can't live without.) At first you push your television out of your fourth story window (note: please don't push your television out of your fourth story window. Instead, take it to a thrift store. That way no passersby will be crushed by your new found freedom!) Then you immediately wonder how in the world you'll survive without television! Shakes take over, drool starts around the corners of your mouth, babbling begins. It's all you think about for a week. Then, a week or so later, you start to realize you never really needed tv anyway. And after a month, you wondered what in the world were you thinking with all this "but I HAVE to have television!" stuff. Tada! The paper towels work the exact same way. (AND you have microfiber cloths now to wipe up that drool during the first week.)

And no, I haven't gotten rid of my television. I've thought about it on occasion. But come on, Lost.. That's all I have to say. Lost. (And Pushing Daisies, and Ugly Betty, and... I'll get back to you on the tv thing.)

But getting rid of paper towels, yeah, that was easy. (Actually EASIER than plastic bags! No joke, I promise you.) Try it! What do you have to lose? (And what do you have to gain!)


Kristianna said...

Okay, you either must not ever eat bacon, or have some mad laundry skills. ;) Seriously, do you put a microfiber on a plate to soak anything you make that's greasy? Curious here.

Have been reading the blog for a good 6+ months, BTW. :)

Nathan Aaron said...

You know, it's not without it's occasional "Hmm? Now how do I do this?"ness. Paper towels were invented in 1931. Even though that's like, forever ago, what did people do BEFORE that?

I've begun to see it as a challenge. Whenever I stumble upon a new situation that makes me say "Wait a minute, I can't use microfiber cloths for this??" I think to myself, people USED to use cleaning cloths for EVERYTHING. Paper towels didn't exist. If they did it, I can. Convenience has SERIOUSLY become the downfall of mankind. I'm seriously serious about that. (He's like, really serious. Ok?) I DID make bacon about a month ago, and that was one of the new situations! I was like (as I don't make bacon much at all) D'Oh! What do I do? And you know what, I took the bacon out of the pan with a fork, and shook it lightly over the pan, letting it drip off into the pan, for each piece. Yes, it took a bit longer than just dropping it onto a paper towel and patting, but it actually worked.

And another thing Americans love is perfection. Clean, crisp, perfection. In fact, I do too. I had my 6 (at the time) microfiber cloths, I'd use them to clean, and then when I went to wash them, I wanted them to come out sparkling white, for next use. Not dull. Not spotted with stains. Sparkling white. We all do. We're trained that way. And to a point, I'm still thinking this way. BUT, I started thinking.

These things are being used to wipe up messes, not dot the corners of The Queen's mouth during dinner. (Well, at least not THAT queen. Har har) They're SUPPOSED to be stained. That's their job. Stop wanting them perfectly white everytime. It's not going to happen. Especially without bleach. Which I just think is evil. (for so many reasons I won't get into! lol)

Whew. I'm ranting. Ok, focus Nathan. So actually, microfiber is lint free, so YES, I think you actually COULD use it for bacon, sausage, greasy stuff. Just don't expect it to be perfectly white next wash. But then, just don't expect that, anyway.

For most of these "no more plastic bags/paper towels, etc" things I give myself, I look at it as a challenge. It's been done before/in the past. So I bet I can do it now. I just have to figure it out, and tada, it always works itself out! :-)

Thanks for reading (and asking questions!) I don't have all the answers (really? Darn!) but I try! And then share what I think works! All just so we can make the world a little bit better. (Hopefully!)

Nathan Aaron said...

PS - Also, hey, if you (or anyone!) don't think you can live without ANY paper towels (THOUGH you can. ;-) why not buy one roll a month, and you can use them for things like bacon, etc. But for everything else, you use cloths. You'd still be making a big difference! It doesn't HAVE to be all or nothing. Really, I believe in occasional grey zones. (But only ONE roll. :-)

Anonymous said...

You know I need to hide my paper towels. I have PLENTY of towels around that I have got for cleaning. I got rid of my Clorox Wipe use (and didn't replace them with anything else disposable). I need to step up and focus on paper towels. I think the first step is getting them out of sight like I did with the Clorox nasty wipes - under the sink and off the counter top.

Peggy said...

Hey Nathan. Thanks for the link to Tree Hugging Family.

I do still use paper towels for cleaning cat vomit though : ) Other than that, I've made good progress.

Having plenty of cloth napkins around is very helpful.

kaoticorchid said...

We have also, for the most part, eliminated paper towels. We have one roll that has lasted us something like two months now and gets used for kitty and puppy vomit (yuck!). We've been pretty much paper towel-less since we moved two years ago. Before we moved, I knit something like 20 cotton washcloths, which I find more 'grabby' than microfiber cloths. As they've worn out/gotten burned/misplaced etc. I've found myself just...well, making more. Why not, since I already have the yarn?

Hmm...I smell a contest in the works. Maybe I'll knit up a couple and have a contest sometime soon. What do you think, Nate? Are Methodlusters up for a challenge?

Sprockets said...

what method microfiber cloth do you use for all purpose cleaning, like wiping counters and appliances down?

maybe method should come out with an all purpose cloth, if the type of cloth really makes a big difference on different surfaces.

Nathan Aaron said...

Actually, I have each of the method microfiber cloths (for their specific purposes); but for all purpose (and I too think they should come out with one!) I just went to Target, and in the kitchen area, with the dish towels, they have microfiber cloths in white that I purchased to replace my paper towels. They come three in a pack for $5.99. They work wonders!

Sprockets said...

oh cool, i will look for the all-purpose ones at Target. i like th method ones but they're kinda $$$.

kaoticorchid said...

Ok, Nate! I am giving away three hand-knit cotton washcloths in support of this challenge. The challenge is outlined on my blog. Have fun!

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