Monday, April 26, 2010

That's all they got?

Paper towels. We have become way too dependant on them, and really for no good reason. (Convenience???) We have not bought any for our household in months. In fact, I can't remember the last time we bought a roll. We use Skoy Cloths ( for wiping around the bathroom and kitchen, cloth napkins, and old socks or t-shirts for bigger jobs. For those messes we really do not want to touch, we have a seemingly endless supply of paper napkins that have come to us through take-out. (We tell them not to send them or include them, but apparently it's just too automatic on their part. We use them sparingly, so we have plenty on hand when the cat has a small mess.)

Back in my paper-towel-using days, before I knew better, I used to love Viva Paper Towels, by none other than our friends at Kleenex, from Kimberly Clark. So soft, so absorbent... a little pricey, but when I felt extravagent I would treat myself to them. So, I really had to laugh when I saw their ad in the coupon section this weekend. They fly the line, "We made the packaging more attractive." (You know, the part you immediately throw away?) Then they say, "Then we made it easier to take off." (You know, because you immediately throw it away.) Yes, their new advertising, their claim to fame, their raison d'etre is that you can get into the package quickly and easily. THIS is why you MUST buy THESE paper towels. This is all they got? Really? This is the best reason they can come up with to get you to buy these? I'm thinkin' that's pretty thin logic.

Here are some reasons to NOT buy ANY paper towels:

"[Paper toweles result] in 254 million tons of trash every year. Once used, paper towels cannot be recycled. As many as 51,000 trees per day are required to replace the number of paper towels that are discarded every day.

"Other facts you need to know about paper towels include:
  • 40% of U.S. landfill trash is paper products.
  • The paper industry is the third largest contributor to [climate change].
  • The average American discards of 700 pounds or more of paper each year.
  • If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year. Change that to using three less rolls per U.S. household per year, and that would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees.
  • Your typical paper towel is manufactured using chlorine, which releases carcinogenic dioxins and furans."
Viva paper towels are surely from virgin fiber. And if the best they can do is make the throw-away part prettier and better (distraction), I'm thinkin' we can skip these altogether. I'm not saying you need to cut all paper towels out of your life completely (though you could try), but it'd be a great step if everyone could cut back a few rolls. 3 less rolls a year? Surely that's doable. We've just become way too accustomed to automatically reaching for the roll. There are so many other reusable things to use. Money is saved. This is a good green fix, and a pretty easy one at that... why not go for it?
Oh - and pass on the knowledge!