I admit, I was a paper towel addict. It's so convenient... and easy... and disposable. In my family we always had huge rolls of paper towel, for toast, crackers, cookies, chips, cleaning up spilled things... even though we had the half piece option we used a lot of paper towel.
One of the first steps in my cleaning eco-fication was to switch to paper towel made from 100% post consumer recycled paper. If every household in North America replaced just one roll of virgin-fibre paper towel for 100% post consumer recycled we'd save 550,000 trees (Natural Resources Defense council as quoted in Ecoholic Home 2009).
Approximately 400,000 ha of Canada's Boreal Forests are harvested each year with most for paper mills (Ecological Assessment of the Shield Ecozone-Government of Canada). Seriously, I do not need to eat my crackers on material that was bleached and soaked in chemicals from our beautiful boreal forests.
Over the course of a year I noticed that we used less and less. Mostly because brown paper towel doesn't really suit food purposes, so I started choosing plates over paper for snacks. Also, they were more expensive, so we only bought one or two rolls at a time. It got to the point that we only ever used the paper towel for cleaning the bathroom. I honestly didn't think I'd be ready for using cloth only to clean the bathroom. Really- for some strange reason I thought that my cloth 'lavettes' would leave streaks on the counter and mirror and be too gross to clean the toilet.
Then, a few months ago we ran out of paper towel. I looked at the bathroom and it's glorified mess and went to the drawer filled with dish cloths (we sadly do not have a dishwasher in our apartment, other than one named 'Andrew' as it's his chore...). I chose the few that looked a little sketchy and on their way out, took a deep breath and gave it a go.
I needed a strategy. I wasn't going to clean pee off the toilet and THEN wash the sink- ew! SO, I decided that my plan of attack would be: mirror, sink, counter, bathtub and shower curtain and last toilet. I had also been using vinegar, water and tea tree oil for a few weeks on the counter, mirror and faucets. I assumed that it would streak and leave weird water spots since the cloth wasn't dry.
Black Spruce peatland (Hinterland Site)
I was so wrong. In a few minutes the bathroom was great! The faucets left NO water marks at all. I have to concede that vinegar-water really is perfect for those surfaces. I had long since given up on buying sponges, since those that aren't made from plastic are pricey, and washing the tub with a cloth was VERY weird and a lot trickier than expected. Vinegar-water and baking soda really doesn't work for my bathtub, so I keep a 7th Generation tile-tub spray that lasts forever and works amazing.
Now our apartment is paper towel-free. Since it's only the two of us I clean the bathroom (my chore since I'm picky!) about three times a week which results in three cloths to be washed a week. Which isn't a big deal at all. Now it seems strange to eat food on paper towel when there are perfectly fine plates or... our hands, to eat from. The only time we have ever missed paper towel is when (on rare occasions) we eat bacon... Last time Andrew placed the pieces on a cookie rack for the fat to drip into a plate beneath it... lol.
Really, switching to cloth wasn't as annoying as I thought it would be, and that's one less thing we have to buy each week. :)
Alright, now we're off to watch 'The Muppet's Christmas Carol' with friends where we will eat nachos, drink rum and eggnog and enjoy Yule :)
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