Monday, February 9, 2009

Reducing Consumption: Another Green Idea in the Kitchen

In a prior post, I blogged about some of the things my wife and I are doing to stay green and minimize our impact on the environment.  This evening while cleaning up in the kitchen, I realized I'd forgotten a key tactic we've adopted: reducing our consumption by using rags instead of paper towels for many everyday tasks.

Basically, for things like wiping up spills, wiping down knives, and drying off dishes and other items in the kitchen, you can use a rag.  Then, once you've accumulated several dirty rags, you can wash them in hot water with a bit of bleach and laundry detergent to get them clean again; ideally, the rags are also cheap enough that as they eventually wear out, it's not costly to replace them.

Over Christmas, while in Sam's Club I noticed some bulk washcloths and hand towels; though we'd looked at both Sam's and Costco previously for suitable rags in bulk, nothing quite suitable had been in evidence; cloth napkins weren't absorbent enough, and washcloths didn't have the right texture for wiping kitchen surfaces down effectively.  However, Sam's Club now had a pack of 24 bar towels for something like $6, and as it turns out, the bar towels are just about perfect for general purpose use around the kitchen.  We've got a basket of them on the baker's rack neatly folded, and another basket for the dirties to await their turn in the laundry.

By switching to these bar towels, we've significantly cut our paper towel consumption (as well as the ensuing trash generated).  Previously, we went through at least a couple of rolls a week; now, we're able to stretch a typical roll to a month.  Even better, perhaps, than buying the rags like we did would be to make them from old, worn-out sheets or clothing; however, we tend to donate our older linens and clothes to Goodwill or other charities every year before they reach that stage of rattiness--but for others, that might be a great option to keep those old clothes out of the landfill and give them several more years of use.

I can't take full credit for this idea; several years back, our friends Mindy and John Waltham-Sajdak had already replaced their paper towels with rags.

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