Four Ways to Reduce Your Use of Disposable Paper Products

April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Today, I want to give you some suggestions for how your family might reduce your paper usage.  Our family has reduced our  paper usage a good bit over the last few years, and I would love to share that with you.    We don’t have our environmental act completely together.  While I love the zero-waste movement, we haven’t tackled that at this point.  We have trash every week.  I still use some plastic products.  But, we have taken some steps to reduce our paper usage that have been fairly easy and haven’t added a lot to our weekly work load.  Don’t take all of these on right now.  Just pick one and make it a habit.  If you try to do too much at a time, you’ll wind up doing nothing.  Here are some ideas:

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1.  Consider replacing paper towels with bar mops.

We stopped using paper towels several years ago and purchased some bar mops to use instead.  They see heavy use in our household.  They are our kitchen towels and our cleaning work horses.  I have “special” towels that I use for absorbing oil from fried donuts or oven-roasted potatoes.  Keep these oil soaked cloths and use them only for these greasy occasions- this will help all your other kitchen towels to stay thirsty.   As you can see, these towels are heavily used.  I don’t use bleach, so mine get stained.  I would love to be able to show you a beautiful stack of pristine towels, but that’s just not realistic if you’re using them for everything from dusting to cleaning up carrot juice spills.

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2.  Consider replacing paper napkins with cloth napkins.

This is fairly easy.  Buy some cloth napkins, and start using them instead of paper napkins.  I have a lot of cloth napkins.  I have some from when we first married that I still use.  They are easy to throw in our pack on days when we eat away from home.    You will not need to change these at each meal, or even every day.  Each person in our family has their own napkin ring, so we can use our napkins for several days before replacing them.

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3.  Consider replacing kleenex with handkerchiefs.

This is a very easy place to begin.  Buy a dozen handkerchiefs and start using them instead of kleenex.  If I have a guest who wants a kleenex, I just give them toilet paper.

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4.  Consider replacing toilet paper with wipes.

I put this one last because it’s the most fringe.  It might ick you out.  But, our family replaced toilet paper with wipes several years ago, and it’s just not a big deal.  Here’s how we do it.  If you come to my house, I will have toilet paper for you ;-/.

I’m guessing you’re wondering if these habits contribute significantly to our laundry.  I do 1-2 loads a week of towels, wipes, handkerchiefs and napkins.  I do them separately and add vinegar to the rinse to keep them nice and thirsty.

What about your family?  Have you tried any of these?  How’s it going?  Any new habits for Earth Day this year?

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2 Responses to “Four Ways to Reduce Your Use of Disposable Paper Products”


  1. Wow Robin, I admire your commitment to reducing waste! I like the bar mop idea a lot!


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