Over the last couple of years, I have been on a journey making strides toward a greener kitchen. Many of these changes came with becoming aware of healthy food storage practices, cooking methods, and proper food placement in the refrigerator. These simple changes did not directly affect the rest of my family or alter their routines. However, the next step was going to require everyone to adjust the way they’d moved through the kitchen for years. . . . Yes, I eliminated paper products!
Earth Day is on April 22, so this seems to be the right time to share how I was able to remove these expensive and wasteful products from our daily routine. Using paper towels and napkins are so ingrained in our society as necessary items when they are really items of convenience. For me, the key to making this transition was showing my family that replacing paper with cloth would be just as convenient.
How I Helped My Family Go Paperless in the Kitchen
The first thing I did was set a timeline for the transition. I established how much of each product I had on hand, planning how I would use the supply. The napkins were first. I began using cloth napkins for supper and leaving the paper for lunch. It wasn’t cold turkey, but once they were gone, we began using cloth napkins at every meal.
While the existing supply of paper products was being used, I began to stock up on enough cloth napkins, terry cloth, and flour sack towels. I wanted to havie plenty on hand so I wouldn’t have to do laundry more often. It really isn’t more work because I just throw theses cloths in with the other towels I’m washing, anyway. We have about 25 cloth napkins now. Most of them don’t match and are from discount bins at Homegoods, Tuesday Morning, and Target. Finding them is like a treasure hunt and they are usually a bargain.
The Hardest Part of Going Paperless
The most difficult change for my family was replacing paper towels. I noticed them being used for drying hands, dishes, fruits and vegetables, for wiping up spills, and even being used as a plate. I first moved the paper towel rack to the other side of the kitchen, away from the sink so we got out of the habit of grabbing one for everything. Eventually we got used to using cloth towels instead.
All our cloth products are now placed conveniently around the kitchen, the napkins are by the kitchen table and dishes for setting the table for meals. The towels have their own drawers close to the sink for drying dishes, hands, cleaning up spills, and other needs. These towels are replaced daily and sometimes more frequently depending on their use. The key to this transition was keeping it EASY. Change is difficult enough so making transitional changes to our habits worked the best.
The Final Step
The final step was to incorporate a bin for the dirty towels. Tossing a paper towel in the garbage can is easy, so I had to come up with something just as easy. I finally settled on keeping a small metal bin under the sink for the soiled towels. When it’s full I add those cloths to my pile of towels to be washed.
Getting your household on board doesn’t have to difficult. Roommates, spouses, and children are usually willing to try anything for a while. It’s easy to convince everyone that this new routine will work if you have a system in place that isn’t complicated. Once everyone is on the same page, you’ll never miss those paper products.
Best of luck going paperless in the kitchen. And remember to Live Your Value, one choice at a time!