Author Topic: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements  (Read 13839 times)

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« on: May 07, 2015, 04:46:52 PM »
Hi everybody,
I wish to reduce or end my family's use of paper napkins and towels for cleaning up and dinner use. I have a consumerist wife who won't use anything she can't quickly grab, an 8.5 year old, and a 2.9 year old. I have found cloth rags useful for spills but only have access to cloth scraps for rags. Would cloth napkins work? Dish rags? Anyone want to recommend brands? (What I saw on Amazon got poor ratings.)

Backyard Farmer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing badly - GKC
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2015, 04:56:26 PM »
We use paper plates, napkins, and towels, but we also compost all of those, along with all the kitchen scraps, peels, plate cleanings, etc. Because of the composting, I don't feel bad about the "waste" of using disposable paper products.

In the future, I hope to get some chickens, and then let BSF turn my kitchen waste into free high-protein chicken food.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4483
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 05:09:14 PM »
I have a large stack of flannel rags that my mother made for me. Some are one side old T-shirt and one side flannel, some are double-layer flannel, and some are single-layer flannel. They all do the job. Some of the flannel is cut-up pajama pants or the ends of old pillowcases; most of it is stuff my mom got on clearance at Jo-Ann's. I use them for everything--spills, wiping noses, etc.

They are about 8" by 8" in size or 8" x 10". She went around the edges with a serger, but you can also use a regular sewing machine and just zig-zag. (The edges will fray more using this method, but they'll still work.)

I also have good rags made out of baby drooler bibs--you know, the terry cloth kind. I just cut off the velcro part and zig-zag stitched along the cut part.

I used to keep the pile on top of my microwave, but now they are in a basket on the counter.

If you really want something you can buy ready-to-use, cheap wash cloths would probably work much better than napkins--more absorbent.

Composting is good, but not a perfect solution--trees are still being cut down plus all the nasty chemicals that go into the manufacturing process, the gas to drive the trucks to the store, etc. I do ue paper towels occasionally for greasy jobs, but a roll lasts us for months.

Kris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4345
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2015, 05:22:52 PM »
Cloth diapers are good if you know people who are getting rid of them. 

As for dinner napkins, we have used cloth napkins for years.  You can get them on good sale at shmantzy stores when their colors/designs aren't "in" anymore.

Snow White

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Texas
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2015, 05:34:12 PM »
A couple of years ago I bought about three dozen "bar cloths" from Bed, Bath & Beyond and they were quite inexpensive.  They are about 10" x 10" and made from a white, terry cloth type fabric but don't create much lint like true terry cloth does. I put them in a drawer near the dishtowels and pot holders and encouraged hubby to use them in lieu of paper towels.  I often set out two or three fresh ones in the AM near the paper towel holder so they are convenient to use and then I toss the used ones in the laundry basket at the end of the day or earlier if they are really soiled.

I'd say it has cut down on paper towel use by 60-70%.  A few of the cloths have frayed a bit but they look pretty good considering the wear they get.  You could absolutely make something similar from terry cloth, dish towel linen or even flannel.  I bought mine as I knew hubby was more likely to use something that looked nice and not like a pile of rags. 😉

lise

  • Guest
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2015, 05:41:11 PM »
For cleaning, I like microfiber clothes (bed bath beyond have them).
http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/schroeder-tremayne-the-original-trade-microfiber-10-pack-cleaning-cloths/1042168447

I unfortunately still use paper towels for napkins.  I just end up with too much washing if I use washable type napkins.
Hoping to see some good ideas on here to be more environmentally friendly.

dodojojo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 588
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2015, 05:48:06 PM »
I have the ultra-cheap white Ikea towels, ranging from small to big.  I noticed the last couple of times I've been to Ikea--they no longer carry the small size.  I use these towels for all cleaning purposes.  I use all raggedy clothes/socks to clean my bike. 

Most of my dinner napkins come from the thrift store.  I was amazed by how many nice sets of cloth napkins were/are available at thrift stores.  Now, no one would buy them from me as they've got some unwashable stains, but I don't care as I'm the only one using them.  I do have some unstained ones and I make sure guests get those.

I still have paper towels, but I don't go through them quite as much anymore.  I tried to go with with reuseable cloth toilet paper (for #1 only), but that wasn't as successful.  I'm sticking with toilet paper.

Erica/NWEdible

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 881
    • Northwest Edible Life - life on garden time
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 05:53:26 PM »
I use lint free floursack towels from the Business Costco for napkins. They are thin but unfold to be huge - like 24x24 - which is good for kids. And in a pinch, I use them to strain yogurt and stuff. They are white, so they respond well to oxygen bleach.

We don't use any disposable paper products except TP and actual paper, and honestly, you get used to it. It's not that big of deal to sub a reusable item for a disposable one.

MsPeacock

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1546
  • Location: High COL
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 06:23:47 PM »
I have used the same white cotton dinner napkins for about 20 years now (they are not-so white now, but acceptable). I got them from William Sonoma - can't recall how much they cost. I believe you can find something similar at Ikea most likely. Key is to have plenty so that you can use them a few times and then wash them and always have more handy. If each member of your family gets a napkin ring to use you can keep track of which napkin belongs to who and get several days use out of them before they need to be washed.

As for rags - misc towels and such bought over many years (they never wear out) and then about 2 dozen microfiber rags that came in packs of a dozen from Home Depot purchased in the past year or so. They were about $10 per pack. As with napkins, I like to have loads on hand so that I always have a big stack under the sink and in the laundry room ready to grab.

Paper towels are only for the nastiest stuff - like dog poop. I  just hate the idea of purchasing expensive paper products that you use for like 3 seconds and then toss in the trash. So wasteful!

MMMaybe

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 388
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2015, 06:30:55 PM »
For cleaning, we have old towels that are cut up. Dish towels as well.

If your wife is into sewing, see if she has a pair of pinking shears. These cut material in such a way that it doesn't really fray.

We have reduced our paper towel use but still use it for cat nastiness and cleaning toilets etc.

dodojojo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 588
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2015, 06:52:49 PM »
Agree with the last couple of posts, still have paper towels on hand for the pet nasties--hairballs, poop and vomit ;)

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2015, 07:13:38 PM »
Thanks everyone! Please keep the replies coming!!

Metta

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 663
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2015, 09:20:05 PM »
We've never used paper napkins or paper towels in our home. We keep an eye out for napkins and towels on sale (post-Thanksgiving and post-Christmas are great times for discounts on napkins, placemats, and tablecloths). We have two enormous drawers. One has the towels and the other has the napkins. They get washed as they get used. When they get embarrassingly ragged or stained, they get recycled into cleaning cloths. When they get too awful for that, they are recycled again into car cloths (to clean the cars) or garage cloths. Eventually they will come into contact with something too vile and chemical-laden to go into the washing machine and will be tossed.

It's actually pretty easy and pleasant to not to have paper towels or napkins and it feels much more elegant than paper ever could.

1967mama

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Canada
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2015, 09:27:53 PM »
I regularly find new cloth napkins in thrift stores, often in sets of 4. I guess maybe people receive them as a gift but then decide not to use them???

Tami1982

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1016
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2015, 09:29:23 PM »
For cleaning I buy the 12 pack of cotton wash cloths from Walmart for $3.84.  Two 12 packs lasts over a year, into two years.  Eventually some of them start to wear or get really badly stained (I buy all white) and I buy a new pack and the nasty ones get added to the scrap pile.  I purchased cloth napkins and a table cloth from the thrift store for $3.99? I think.  And I use those for guests and when I want to be fancy, but they wash super easy. 

I have nothing disposable in my house.  Was a transition, but not even TP.  Adds about 2 loads of laundry of week.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2015, 04:34:33 PM by Tami1982 »

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2015, 10:45:50 AM »
For cleaning I buy the 12 pack of cotton wash clothes from Walmart for $3.84.  Two 12 packs lasts over a year, into two years.  Eventually some of them start to wear or get really badly stained (I buy all white) and I buy a new pack and the nasty ones get added to the scrap pile.  I purchased cloth napkins and a table cloth from the thrift store for $3.99? I think.  And I use those for guests and when I want to be fancy, but they wash super easy. 

I have nothing disposable in my house.  Was a transition, but not even TP.  Adds about 2 loads of laundry of week.
How do avoid the use of toilet paper?

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1802
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2015, 11:34:26 AM »
I use face cloths for wiping up my daughter (2 years old). Sometimes we reuse it for a few meals, it adds almost nothing to the laundry. We have about 20 cloths left over from various towel sets.

After a messy supper I wash my hands, it's cleaner then smearing BBQ sauce onto a napkin. Hand washing eliminates the need for napkins entirely, it might not be always the solution but often its quite easy. I keep hand soap beside the kitchen sink, I've been in houses where people don't which is sort of weird, how do you wash your hands after handling meats?

Bacon grease and a few other really greasy items gets disposable towels. Grease is bad for the laundry, it requires more soap, so it's might be cheaper then reusing a cloth. At a roll a year I'm not interested in reducing further, I have $25 set aside to fund my paper towel budget for life ;)  I'm curious if Paper towels is actually a real expense item? Do you spend amounts that are actually noticeable?

SilveradoBojangles

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2015, 11:40:33 AM »
These dish towels are great -- super absorbent, easy to clean, look nice, good size, and very affordable (18$ for a dozen): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C7WLG8O/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Keep a bunch in a drawer to replace paper towels. And, if you want to get really fancy, you can attach snaps to them and actually create a reusable paper towel roll: http://www.kamsnaps.com/Reusable-Washable-Cloth-Unpaper-Towels-75.html

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4839
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2015, 01:24:21 PM »
Okay, I should probably be telling you young whippersnappers to get off my lawn while I'm at it, but…


You do realize the paper towels and napkins are the replacements for the real items, right?

NCGal

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 138
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2015, 04:25:08 PM »
BB - your post prompted me to do a little searching. I'm and I found these:
http://www.walmart.com/msharbor/ip/6ct-Wippity-Wipes-Reusable-Paper-Towels-Wet-Dry-Chamois-Cloth-Pacific-Dry-Goods/37466394?&veh=mweb

I'm going to give them a try. They got good reviews on Amazon.

Tami1982

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1016
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2015, 04:33:40 PM »
How do avoid the use of toilet paper?

I gave up TP about a year ago.  I purchased two of these (cloth wipes): http://www.amazon.com/GroVia-Cloth-Wipes-12-count/dp/B003X3R6TO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1414047999&sr=8-5&keywords=organic+cotton+baby+wipes and a friend gave me two wet bags for free. http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Wise-Wet-Diaper-Medium/dp/B005WWIMGA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1414048057&sr=8-2&keywords=wet+bag  Something like that would work.  And I bought a basket for $0.99.   I wash them about every other day - third day.  Use them for everything and have found that they do not stain.  Or if so, is super faint and disappears after a couple washes.  I was buying TP in bulk from Costco at the rate of about $40 a year.  I purchased the wipes for about $24 and they will last indefinitely.   I still have TP left from before, and that's always available for guests.

Tami1982

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1016
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2015, 04:36:35 PM »
Bacon grease and a few other really greasy items gets disposable towels. Grease is bad for the laundry, it requires more soap, so it's might be cheaper then reusing a cloth.

I save ads from the mail (grocery store flyers and such) for this purpose.  Not that I'm haranguing you AT ALL.  One roll of paper towels is awesome per year, but if I have any around my family uses them up like you would not believe.  So I just don't keep them around.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4483
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2015, 04:40:22 PM »
OK, I also use my stack of flannel as TP. But only for... well, you know. Not the other one. And I always do a pre-rinse before I wash them. As the only lady in our house, I would otherwise be our #1 consumer of TP.

For bacon, another alternative is to use cut-up flour bags, but I do not cook bacon, so I haven't tried it. I do, however, cut up cereal box liners to use as wax paper (to separate layers of homemade granola bars, which I make often).

dodojojo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 588
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2015, 04:44:44 PM »
This is a bit TMI...I have a large bag of toilet flannel sheets that were supposed to replace TP.  But I found using the flannel sheets left me a little malodorous in a certain area...Tips?  And yes, I washed the sheets each and every time, etc.  And in terms of TP and paper towels, I don't think foregoing disposal saves me that much money, if any at all.  I just want to cut down my disposal waste footprint.

Clean Shaven

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 802
  • Location: Wild Wild West
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2015, 04:47:37 PM »
I use these in the garage, but I don't see why you couldn't also use them in the house --

50-pk of cloth shop towels, about $10 on sale at Harbor Freight:
http://www.harborfreight.com/pack-of-50-15-inch-x-13-inch-all-purpose-shop-towels-46163.html

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4483
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2015, 04:51:26 PM »
This is a bit TMI...I have a large bag of toilet flannel sheets that were supposed to replace TP.  But I found using the flannel sheets left me a little malodorous in a certain area...Tips?  And yes, I washed the sheets each and every time, etc.  And in terms of TP and paper towels, I don't think foregoing disposal saves me that much money, if any at all.  I just want to cut down my disposal waste footprint.

I've never had this problem, but you could look up a recipe for cloth baby wipe liquid and try moistening your flannel with it. Common ingredients are baby shampoo, tea tree oil, that kind of thing.

bonjourliz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2015, 06:16:43 AM »
We bought a dozen cloth napkins, maybe 8x8 through etsy.  Flannel, i think.  And then we have a couple dozen IKEA dish towels for bigger jobs.  They live in stacks under our island, and we have a basket on the counter to collect towels/napkins that need to be washed. 

dandypandys

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 444
  • Age: 43
  • Location: USA
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2015, 06:26:57 AM »
I use those mechanic shop towels, the red ones.. i have a whole bin in the kitchen full of clean ones, and a bin under the sink for dirty ones.
Beware though, the red dye is a nuisance in the wash! So wash with like colors :)

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2015, 07:14:46 PM »
Hi everyone,
Thanks for the great recommendations!!!! I have already been visiting dollar stores and thrift stores in search of old napkins, sturdy but cheap dishcloths, and will order some mechanic's rags. Besides being a frugalist wannabe, I am also an aspiring birder. I have always hated using paper that destroys bird habitat.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9752
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2015, 07:34:29 PM »
If you have a goodwill outlet near you, they sell stuff by the pound, very cheap -- good place for sourcing this kind of things.  I haven't tried ours yet but it is one of the first places I am going to stop when I get back to Seattle.

FWIW, the reviews of the Boston one (assuming you are in that area based on your username) are kind of unpleasant.  Still, might be worth checking out once for this kind of thing.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-goodwill-outlet-store-boston

1967mama

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Canada
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2015, 12:30:00 AM »
Okay, I should probably be telling you young whippersnappers to get off my lawn while I'm at it, butů
You do realize the paper towels and napkins are the replacements for the real items, right?

@Rural! This is GREAT! haha! Made me smile!

I'm happly to report that at my local thrift store I picked up 6 large, heavy cotton weave NEW cloth napkins, and 5 cotton/poly blend NEW regular sized cloth napkins for a grand total of $4 the other day! These will receive many years of use in my large family and replaced the ones that are no longer usable (badly stained, holes, etc).

theadvicist

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1447
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #31 on: May 11, 2015, 03:49:46 AM »
BrooklineBiker, I wonder if any of your wife's resistance comes from thinking that it's adding to the laundry?

Obviously I don't know the division of labour in your house, but if she does look after any of it, that may be a reason. I can attest that it doesn't add much, but I think it's one of those things you have to experience to know.

Also, I keep a tiny 'laundry' basket under the kitchen sink, and throw dirty dishclothes and tea towels in there (wet, but the plastic basket is very holey so they do dry there, remarkably quickly). Having cloths hanging about gross and wet waiting to dry and be taken to the laundry room was annoying. Now, as I pass through the kitchen on my way to do laundry, I stop and empty the small basket into the big one.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11187
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2015, 06:06:20 AM »
And Kleenex is a replacement for handkerchiefs - we used to survive without all the paper products. Of course during allergy season I am glad I have Kleenex.

Napkin rings - when I was little we each had one, and each one was different, for identification - if the napkin was clean when the meal was finished, it was refolded and placed in the napkin ring, ready for the next meal.  Milestones - you knew you were getting pretty grown up and accomplished when your napkin stayed clean (tidy eating , no spills). I don't think it added a lot to the laundry load.

And to be modern, I have a microfiber mitt that is great for general house cleaning wiping and dusting.  And two microfiber cloths in the bathroom, one damp to wipe the mirror and the other dry to polish it.  Sparkling mirror with no chemicals.

Okay, I should probably be telling you young whippersnappers to get off my lawn while I'm at it, butů


You do realize the paper towels and napkins are the replacements for the real items, right?

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2015, 06:34:54 AM »
BrooklineBiker, I wonder if any of your wife's resistance comes from thinking that it's adding to the laundry?
That's a big obstacle, in my book.  I hate laundry and don't want anything added to it.  Microfiber, especially, since that stuff isn't supposed to be washed with other "lesser fibers".  I had two microfiber dish cloths that came in a gift basket, and I ruined them washing them with towels; they now come out of the dryer covered in hair and have none of the supposedly magical properties that microfiber is supposed to possess. 

Anyway, a roll of paper towels lasts us about three weeks, so it's not exactly breaking the bank.  Yet other people must use much more because I hear lots of people complaining about paper towels. 

I find cloth napkins an easier switch since they can left at the table in a napkin ring and re-used for maybe half a week. 

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #34 on: May 13, 2015, 04:28:01 PM »
BrooklineBiker, I wonder if any of your wife's resistance comes from thinking that it's adding to the laundry?

Obviously I don't know the division of labour in your house, but if she does look after any of it, that may be a reason. I can attest that it doesn't add much, but I think it's one of those things you have to experience to know.
Hi theadvicist,
Well, the Mrs. does a ton of childcare and works. Our kiddies our 3 and 8.5 and they generate huge mess. She does a lot of the logistics of getting the kiddies to activities so she is on the go a lot. Her personality is very much one of the disposable consumerist. For example, she will buy furniture expecting and intending for it to break and be replaced. (Over time I have come to realize this. I didn't know this before marriage and was not Mustachian then.)
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 04:33:15 PM by BrooklineBiker »

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #35 on: May 13, 2015, 04:35:03 PM »
And Kleenex is a replacement for handkerchiefs - we used to survive without all the paper products. Of course during allergy season I am glad I have Kleenex.

Napkin rings - when I was little we each had one, and each one was different, for identification - if the napkin was clean when the meal was finished, it was refolded and placed in the napkin ring, ready for the next meal.  Milestones - you knew you were getting pretty grown up and accomplished when your napkin stayed clean (tidy eating , no spills). I don't think it added a lot to the laundry load.

And to be modern, I have a microfiber mitt that is great for general house cleaning wiping and dusting.  And two microfiber cloths in the bathroom, one damp to wipe the mirror and the other dry to polish it.  Sparkling mirror with no chemicals.

Okay, I should probably be telling you young whippersnappers to get off my lawn while I'm at it, butů


You do realize the paper towels and napkins are the replacements for the real items, right?
Thanks for posting. I guess I am a disposable consumerist too. I had forgotten that cloth napkins and towels are the real items. I do not believe I have ever used a napkin ring.

Retire-Canada

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6744
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #36 on: May 13, 2015, 05:01:27 PM »

How do avoid the use of toilet paper?

Water and soap.

The ergonomics are easier with squat toilets, but if you have a tub or shower stall in your bathroom you can improvise.

-- Vik

greenmimama

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 718
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #37 on: May 13, 2015, 05:14:01 PM »
I realize you have already received a ton of replies, but just wanted to encourage you to take the plunge, it's not really a big deal, I think I have purchased 2 rolls of paper towels in the last 12 years.

We just tend to use more kitchen towels, or a kitchen washcloth is a great size for most messes. I just have a motley crew of cloth napkins, some meant to be that and some terry and flannel that I have serged together. I tend to like an 8x8 size with towel material on one side, they are quite absorbent that way.

You can cut down on the laundry by keeping a napkin at the same place at the table until it is really dirty, you can usually find a clean corner.

theadvicist

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1447
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #38 on: May 14, 2015, 02:32:21 AM »
BrooklineBiker, I wonder if any of your wife's resistance comes from thinking that it's adding to the laundry?

Obviously I don't know the division of labour in your house, but if she does look after any of it, that may be a reason. I can attest that it doesn't add much, but I think it's one of those things you have to experience to know.
Hi theadvicist,
Well, the Mrs. does a ton of childcare and works. Our kiddies our 3 and 8.5 and they generate huge mess. She does a lot of the logistics of getting the kiddies to activities so she is on the go a lot. Her personality is very much one of the disposable consumerist. For example, she will buy furniture expecting and intending for it to break and be replaced. (Over time I have come to realize this. I didn't know this before marriage and was not Mustachian then.)

I would suggest your best approach then is to lead by example. Start taking good care of your stuff, no leaving clothes on the floor, books tossed here and there to be sat on, and so on. When something of yours breaks, work out how you can fix it. You might be surprised at how much you can influence her without any nagging or coercing.

Also, as she sees your skills grow, I wouldn't be surprised if she was really pleased that you can fix things. Even consumerists see the value of, 'Oh this cheap chair leg is loose' and you saying, 'Hang on, I'll tighten it up', because that is easier for her than going out any buying news ones (and it sounds like easy and convenient is what she would like).

With the paper products, start wiping up spills with cloth yourself, and make sure that you are shouldering some of laundry burden. You can make a difference even if she isn't on board, but she's far more likely to join you if she can see it isn't a big deal, and isn't resulting in lots of extra chores. Good luck!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #39 on: May 14, 2015, 05:06:15 AM »
Cloth diapers are good if you know people who are getting rid of them.

Yep! We're using fancy modern cloth diapers, but when our daughter was born and my mom heard we were using cloth, she sent a bunch of old rectangular ones that she had bought when I was a baby. We use them to dust, clean up DD's high chair, and lots of other things you might use a paper towel for.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #40 on: May 14, 2015, 07:09:42 AM »
We keep a bin of cloth napkins in the same place the container of paper ones would be. So when you grab a napkin, you get a cloth one.

We also hang at least 4 cloth towels in the kitchen, so they are always within easy reach.

We reuse until they seem dirty and throw them into a hamper.  We have plenty of cloth towels and napkins though, so we've never had to do a load just to clean them.

I just don't see the need for paper. If paper isn't there, you will grab the cloth.   


I do use toilet paper. I don't feel the need to give that up. 

Rezdent

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 813
  • Location: Central Texas
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #41 on: May 14, 2015, 09:54:11 PM »
I weaned my family down on paper towels slowly using these steps:

1.  Switched to generic "select a size" type paper towels.
2. Started using a bread knife to cut these rolls in half.  This was a psychological maneuver.  I put both halves on the dispenser at first, but wrapped the inside half with a rubber band to force use of one side at a time. Thye started out just pulling twice as much off the roll but over time their consumption normalized to half as much.  Eventually we were using less than 25% of the original amount.
3. Started putting only one half of the cut roll on the dispenser.  The other side I wrapped cotton towels.  I was slow to replace the empty rolls of paper but made sure that the towels side always looked fresh and easy.

Results:  we use less than 5% of our original use.



Allie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1762
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #42 on: May 14, 2015, 10:24:21 PM »
My husband, after years of complaining pre and post switch because we aren't poor and deserve to have modern conveniences, finally conceded that the move from paper products to cloth has made cleaning million times easier. 

I buy a jumbo pack of white terry towels from Costco every couple years and they move from kitchen to cleaning rag to garage rag.  Because we do a lot of DIY stuff, the need to buy new is usually related to destroying the garage rags as opposed to staining the kitchen ones. 

I have a 4 and 2 year old so I clean up lots of sticky fingers and spills.  At this point, I hate going to houses where I have to use paper towels.  They are limp and thin and drippy.  We have a tub in a kitchen cabinet for the dirty rags and keep a stack on the counter.  I used to keep them in a drawer but the 4yo can now clean up his own messes so I like to have them easily in his reach.  I do a load of rags a week and bleach them every few washes.

We keep lotion Kleenex around for really bad colds with tender noses, but usually use old baby wash clothes instead of tissues.  I have thrifted napkins, but we usually have a damp terry rag at the table for dinner messes and the napkins are used to cover rising bread or when we have company over and have to act like normal people.  :)

When we made the switch, I put the rags out and moved the paper towels under the sink.  Soon the paper towels were forgotten.  Good luck!

1967mama

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2158
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Canada
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #43 on: May 14, 2015, 11:40:29 PM »
My husband, after years of complaining pre and post switch because we aren't poor and deserve to have modern conveniences, finally conceded that the move from paper products to cloth has made cleaning million times easier. 

When we made the switch, I put the rags out and moved the paper towels under the sink.  Soon the paper towels were forgotten.  Good luck!

@Allie, I think my husband would say the same thing! I like your idea of putting the paper towels under the sink!

I weaned my family down on paper towels slowly using these steps:

1.  Switched to generic "select a size" type paper towels.
2. Started using a bread knife to cut these rolls in half.  This was a psychological maneuver.  I put both halves on the dispenser at first, but wrapped the inside half with a rubber band to force use of one side at a time. Thye started out just pulling twice as much off the roll but over time their consumption normalized to half as much.  Eventually we were using less than 25% of the original amount.
3. Started putting only one half of the cut roll on the dispenser.  The other side I wrapped cotton towels.  I was slow to replace the empty rolls of paper but made sure that the towels side always looked fresh and easy.

Results:  we use less than 5% of our original use.

@Rezdent, These are great weaning steps! Thanks for posting ... I'm totally going to try this.

Nudelkopf

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 899
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Australia
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #44 on: May 15, 2015, 05:14:21 PM »
Are paper towels a very American thing? I've never bought paper towel... ever. Our family uses cloths or chux for cleaning benches, spills, etc. (Separate ones, obviously, for cleaning spills on the floor). I've never used a napkin at home - only when eating out at a restaurant... Maybe my family is more bogan than yours :P Or maybe we don't spill as much shit on our faces - why don't you just wash your face when you're done eating?

As for tissues/Kleenex: My dad uses a hankie daily, but the last time I blowed my nose was when a friend died. I just do it in the shower, normally, so it just washes away. So I'm not toooooo concerned about using tissues for a rare event such as a death.

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6381
  • Location: BC
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #45 on: May 15, 2015, 05:59:58 PM »
I buy Baby flannel blankets from the thrift store, 2 for $1 on sale, and they can be cut into 8 cloths each.

My husband wants paper for the "anti-ick" factor -- he does not do the laundry/ wash toilets, and wants to dispose of a mess immediately and never see it again.   So, the key for us is a combination of several clean / folded towels at hand, plus a disposal (laundry) pail in the kitchen.  Now he can use a clean towel  and dispose of it after a single use, just like the paper ones...

FYI  I lucked into this deal when I went to buy fleece blankets to use for guinea pig bedding...and saw how cheap the flannel was.

BrooklineBiker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 336
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #46 on: May 25, 2015, 06:13:45 PM »
My husband, after years of complaining pre and post switch because we aren't poor and deserve to have modern conveniences, finally conceded that the move from paper products to cloth has made cleaning million times easier. 

When we made the switch, I put the rags out and moved the paper towels under the sink.  Soon the paper towels were forgotten.  Good luck!

@Allie, I think my husband would say the same thing! I like your idea of putting the paper towels under the sink!

I weaned my family down on paper towels slowly using these steps:

1.  Switched to generic "select a size" type paper towels.
2. Started using a bread knife to cut these rolls in half.  This was a psychological maneuver.  I put both halves on the dispenser at first, but wrapped the inside half with a rubber band to force use of one side at a time. Thye started out just pulling twice as much off the roll but over time their consumption normalized to half as much.  Eventually we were using less than 25% of the original amount.
3. Started putting only one half of the cut roll on the dispenser.  The other side I wrapped cotton towels.  I was slow to replace the empty rolls of paper but made sure that the towels side always looked fresh and easy.

Results:  we use less than 5% of our original use.

@Rezdent, These are great weaning steps! Thanks for posting ... I'm totally going to try this.
Yes! Thank you!
PS I am beginning to have success weaning the family off of paper.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7396
  • Senior Mustachian
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #47 on: May 25, 2015, 07:41:46 PM »
I am very pro environment and pro saving money. But we use paper towels for cleaning up. I think they have a fairly low environmental footprint (they are from commercial forests that are continually replanted), and are really pretty inexpensive (for us, maybe $5 per year). But if switching to something else works for you, that's great.

less4success

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 312
  • Location: Just moved
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #48 on: May 25, 2015, 09:07:12 PM »
I actually just switched last week from paper towels/napkins to squares cut out of old t-shirts. The fact that I ran out of paper towels made the switch seamless :)

SunshineAZ

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 200
  • Location: SE Arizona
Re: Paper Towel and Napkin Replacements
« Reply #49 on: May 25, 2015, 10:53:51 PM »
I use lint free floursack towels from the Business Costco for napkins. They are thin but unfold to be huge - like 24x24 - which is good for kids. And in a pinch, I use them to strain yogurt and stuff. They are white, so they respond well to oxygen bleach.

We don't use any disposable paper products except TP and actual paper, and honestly, you get used to it. It's not that big of deal to sub a reusable item for a disposable one.
I use floursack towels as well.  They dry quickly and are more absorbent than they look.  I keep a drawer full of them and use them for most things you would use paper towels for, and I only use paper towels for things that I would rather not have sitting around in a laundry basket until I can wash them.