five paper towels
handy, absorbent, quilted
dog puke & spilled beer
I feel like there should be an “amen” at the end of that poem, but I fear the syllabic aggravation would make my high school World Lit teacher shake her head in disapproval. After all, paper towels are one of those essential items on your counter. We use them for dinner napkins, quick spill rags, swatting gnats, sucking up grease from fried stuff, and, of course, wiping up that mysterious sticky gunk wedged between the stove and counter. Some (coughCRAZY) people might buy this swanky $90 towel holder - complete with, well, really nothing; just a stainless steel base with seaweed-like top. If I was spending $90 on a stick that holds bleached paper, I would want it to talk to me in a butler voice.
“Best of luck cleaning up your dog’s urine, Madame.” A more jovial task it would become.
I went garage-sailing awhile back and found a pack of cloth napkins for just 25 cents. They were a friendly green color and free of stains and Hepatitis B, so I decided, “Why not? I like pretty things” and merrily took them home to use at dinnertime. Unlike with paper towels, the cloth napkins were softer and were so big that for each meal, they merely needed to be folded a different way to become ready for use. And with more greasy meals, or when your mother comes to dinner and is hesitant about wiping dirty hands on patterned cotton, perhaps having an obnoxiously busy-looking design on those napkins would be ideal. That way any stains are barely visible and you can tell your mother, “They’re not gawdy; they’re filled with personality.”
Slowly but surely, we’ve become more adjusted to using alternatives to paper towels:
In the kitchen – laying newspaper down to soak up oil from fried food; using only a dishrag to clean up the counter; substituting paper for cloth napkins (starting to do this with lunch box items too).
In the bathroom – designating a “toilet rag,” “bathtub rag” and “sink rag” – though I tend to still use toilet paper around really gross parts of the porcelain throne. Work in progress.
On the husband’s man cave rug (sigh…) – It took awhile to be motivated away from disposable paper towels, but earmarking our yellow towels for dog pee and making SURE to wash them immediately or else the laundry room smells like a homeless man.
There are still a few instances where paper towels are missed, but since starting this trek a few months ago, at least 4 entire rolls + plastic packaging is out of landfills because we simply decided to pay more attention to our waste. Even though this swap was a little sucky… It’s a positive impact for everyone and everything. And I’m okay with that.