It’s common knowledge that the use of paper plates and plastic silverware is wasteful. Real plates and silverware are a staple in most kitchens. But what about other disposable products like paper towels and napkins?
According to the Energy Co-op, 13 billion pounds (6.5 million tons) of paper towels are used each year. That equals out to more than 45 pounds of paper towels per person, each year. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste.
There are many reasons to choose reusable products in the kitchen, besides simply reducing waste that ends up in our landfills. It’s time to break up with paper in the kitchen.
Save the Trees
To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed, according to data collected by People Towels. That means more than 110.5 million trees are cut down, and 130 billion gallons of water are used, in the production of paper towels every year. That staggering number should be enough to quiet the naysayers that argue reusable paper towels and napkins increase water use through extra laundry.
Save the Environment
Most paper towels have that nice, bright white color thanks to chlorine bleach, which is not good for the environment. During the bleaching process, chemical reactions occur that produce dioxins, organochlorines and many other toxic chemicals. Those toxins have to go somewhere when production is complete. Unfortunately, that means they’re released with wastewater into our rivers and streams, or into “containment” ponds that don’t always do the best job at containing the toxins.
Save the People
In the end, the dioxins released into our water system end up in our bodies. According to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of human exposure to dioxins is through our food, mostly meat, dairy products, fish and shellfish because dioxins are stored in the fatty tissue of animals. This exposure is a huge concern as dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
Fortunately, there is a better way. Reusable paper towels and napkins are readily available on the market, and they’re very convenient too. It’s even easy to make your own! Check out this tutorial for ideas on how to make your own reusable towels from things you already have around the house.
If you’re not the DIY type, you can find many great brands of “unpaper” towels and cloth napkins, like those from generationMe. This brand is a great choice because they are made from high-quality GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, and they’re serged around the edges for a clean finish.
If you haven’t already, put switching from disposable paper towels and napkins to reusable unpaper towels on your Green Resolutions list for this year.
Feature image courtesy of Atomic Taco