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A paper free kitchen is something that took me awhile to implement. I wanted to create a much more eco-friendly kitchen and eliminating paper was my first step.
I’m going to start this out with saying I’m frugal. I try to be a good steward of my finances. Buying things to basically just throw them away, drives me crazy. Every time I toss a paper towel, my heart and wallet cry a little.
The other upside to creating a paper free kitchen & home was the elimination of fake scents. I didn’t realize how sensitive I was to the fragrances in household products until I started eliminating them.
6 Steps To A Paper Free Kitchen
1. Identify your paper sources. Walk through your kitchen with your notepad in hand and make a list. Where are your paper sources? In my kitchen I found: paper napkins, paper plates, disinfectant wipes, paper plates, coffee filters, paper towels, k-cups and dryer sheets (my washer & dryer are in my kitchen).
2. Decided what you’re willing to swap. Do you (or your spouse/roommate, etc.) have a thing with disinfectant wipes? I personally can’t stand them, the smell gives me a headache. Hubby, on the other hand, used to think they were the best invention since sliced bread. It’s taken a little prodding and a lot of patience to get them out of my house. Swapping out dryer sheets was another thing, yes, they can make your clothes smell good but there are reports that claim dryer sheets are really harmful. There are also reports that this is totally false. I prefer to err in the side of caution. As always, in all things, do your own research and make the best judgement for you and your family.
3. Set your priorities and pick your battles. In your effort to eliminate waste in the trashcan and in your budget, don’t drive your family crazy. If, like me, you have a die hard user of disinfectant wipes, paper towels, k-cups, etc. don’t cause strife in your home. My goal at all times is simplicity and peace in my home. Sometimes you have to pick your battles! It make take a little time to get your family on board with your new mission. Maybe start with the easiest change or changes and work through your list. Which brings up my next (and probably the most important) point…
4. Make small changes over time. More than likely, going paper free wasn’t an overnight decision for you. It usually never is. It’s not going to happen that quickly for your family either. Your list of priorities is going to come in handy here. What could be the easiest change you could make this week? Can you make one swap today? Picking up a reusable coffee filter is an easy and painless step. Add one to your next Amazon order. Most of the ones I found were under $7 so it’s something that will quickly pay for itself. If you still have disposable ones in your stash, put them up in a cabinet for just in case. You never know when they might come in handy.
Another quick and semi-painless switch in our house was resuable k-cups. In our house, the Keurig gets used most mornings. I’m not much of a coffee drinker but Steven would have it in IV form if he could. On weekdays, he uses the Keurig to make enough coffee for his morning commute. It took about a week for him to get used to using the reusable ones but it was a fairly easy switch. We use these great reusable silicone ones.
5. Stock up. This is a big one too! Paper towels come in rolls, you can buy a huge pack of them, take them home and you’re set for awhile. When you switch to cloth, you have to think in bulk. If you’re switching to cloth napkins, make sure you have enough on hand to get you through a couple days. You don’t want to have to worry about running out of clean cloth napkins every day. I suggest picking a dark color for everyday use. Restaurants know what they’re doing when they use dark cloth napkins, stains don’t show up as easily. We have a local rib house that uses dark green hand towels as their cloth napkins. I think it’s genius. I decided to get a dark navy blue, cotton, salon style towels for our house. They are really durable.
As you’re building your stash, you could start with a couple nights a week of using cloth to get your family used to them. I prefer to take the easy route and just order them but you can always shop around for sales and check your local thrift shops. I’ve had several people tell me they’ve found some great ones that way. You can always keep some pretty ones on hand in case you have company.
Make sure you use this same mindset all through your switch. If you’re eliminating disinfectant wipes, put a basket full of replacement cloths within easy reach. These are my favorite. You get a pack of 50, they’re soft, easy to wash, lint-free and super absorbent. They’re also only $20 for the pack of 50, completely economical! I prefer to wash these and hang dry outside. It’s usually warm here in the south so it’s easy to do.
6. Make it easy on your family. KISS: Keep It Simple Sweetie! If you want this transition to go as smoothly as possible, you have to make it super simple for your family to adapt to these changes! Keep a basket on your counter full of your new cleaning cloths with a bottle of cleaner beside them. They’ll soon discover how easy it is to just grab a rag and spray some cleaner instead of reaching for disinfecting wipes. Remember, you stocked up on those towels for a reason, use them.
Get a basket and put it with your laundry supplies for your wool dryer balls. If you want them to be able to make their clothes smell good, grab a few essential oils and stick them in the basket too. You can even let them pick a favorite scent to keep on hand. If you want to learn more about essential oils, you can take my next free mini kit challenge here.
I like to keep a hanging trash can on the inside of one of my kitchen sink cabinets to put dirty rags in. All they have to do is squeeze the excess water into the sink and drop it into the can. Easy peasy!
A Paper Free Kitchen Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Finally don’t beat yourself up. We all have different seasons going on in our lives. If you’re having a really busy season in your life and paper plates are a lifeline, do what you need to do. If you have littles who are huge mess makers, you might need to keep paper towels in your pantry. Has the flu or stomach bug hit your house? Go crazy with the disinfectant wipes! There is a time and place for everything. I’m an avid no bleach in my life person but I keep a couple bottles in the back of the pantry in case our house gets hit with the flu. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened in several years but I want to be prepared. As always mama, you do you.
I wanna know, do you have a paperless kitchen? If not, is it a goal to get there? Zero judgement here 🙂 Do you have any other tips to make my paperless journey more successful? I’d love to hear them in the comments!