Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ending the Paper Chase


In all of my travels throughout the world I would tend to pick out the nuisances of different people and their cultures. This view was a bit naive but we are caught off guard by change or different perspectives. For example the admirably laid back style of the Spanish always fascinated me becuase it is so uniquely un-American. A midday siesta during the work week? One of our best friends is a former New York stock advisor & he would never accommodate to this schedule. As Garth Algar said, "We fear change..."

One of the recurring themes that I witnessed was the resourcefulness and eco-friendly behavior that was inherent in them all. This Earth consciousness was also so uniquely un-American. I, however, did not fear and sought to adopt this effortless green way into my own life.

My journey began with a lifelong addiction to paper towels. As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, I'd throw down some disinfectant, grab a bunch of paper towels and go to town. I cannot tell you how many that I would go through in a day until, on a whim, I decided to do away with most paper products in our home. ( Toilet tissue is not banned from the house)

In an effort to Go Greener, paper napkins, paper towels, and paper plates are things of the past for this house but the journey was tough. I loved the quick fix that the paper towels would give me, especially with the nastiest of messes. I kept them in the kitchen, the cars and in each bathroom. How the cost did add up. At my worst, I was heading to the warehouse store 2 times a month to stock up on paper products. And no wonder, the paper is a billion dollar industry. Consumers will use over 700 lbs. of paper a year and
paper accounts for over 25% of the space in landfills.
There are many arguments that debate the impact of paper towels and this article helps to shine some light on the subject. After doing our research we chose to make the difficult switch to go paper towel-less.
So in honor of Earth Day 2011 on April 22nd, I'd like to highlight these 100% Organic Flour Sack Dish Towels by Williams-Sonoma which made our transition off of unnecessary paper products pretty painless.

Williams-Sonoma is a brand that I could not live without and it's name is synonymous with luxury goods. At about $17 for a set of 3, including shipping, these towels are a bargain in my book. They exponentially outweigh the cost of buying paper towels and they will last you a very long time. I recently purchased 3 sets of these towels, gifted one to a friend, and am still finding countless uses for them. They are strong, durable and extremely versatile. We use them for everything. We wipe down the counters, floors and cars with wet ones. My silver is polished and windows are cleaned with dry ones. They can strain fruit for canning and are able to dry dishes and utensils. They also dry within the hour when rinsed and hung out to dry in your bathroom, mudroom or over your sink. You can just wet it and use it again and again. Because of their massive size, they can be cut and re-purposed as you see fit. The fact that they are reusable is the key to environmental respect here as there is practically no waste. They can be washed with your regular loads of towels and as a mother of three, we wash at least a load or two of laundry* a day so this really is no problem at our house.

The packaging of these towels is also classic. They are made from real flour sack cloths that not only allow them to double dip in the Eco-friendly pool, but also to fold up very nicelyfor space-saving storage. For being so amazing, the simple & classic packaging makes them that much more attractive. They are practically gift-giving ready with the natural ribbon and clean label that adorns each set of 3. No flashiness here making them a truly understated luxury item.

As you begin your own transition, take it slowly. If you cannot take the paperless plunge, opt for a more Earth friendly, recycled brand such as Seventh Generation which you
can add to your compost pile. This way, if you are a paper addict like most Americans, you are able to wean yourself off before completely cutting yourself off.

Try GoingGreen.com to find current Eco happenings all over the world. If it is tips and advice you seek, try Green Living Tips. Both of these sites have tons of information to keep you up to date with all that is Green and guide you on your journey to taking better care of the Earth.

Start today by trying my 3 practical tips on going paperless in your everyday life. Even if you only adopt one new practice, know that you are making a difference.
If you are buying any of the below items new, buy attractive, quality items to encourage their use. When shopping think hankies with embroidered flowers or crisp white napkins, for example.

1. Use Williams-Sonoma cloths, & reusable napkins
2. Carry a handkerchief
3. Eat & drink with glass dining ware

*It also helps to have an energy efficient washer when doing this many loads so we invested in one many years ago. Not only do they save on water and money but on space as well. Our home is quite modest so my front-loading washer and gas dryer are stacked atop one another. Feeling bold? Try to wash with cold water for most loads. Modern washers are great at doing their jobs these days so temperature really is not as much of an issue. Cold water is less expensive to use and better for the Earth so give it a try.