Going paper free in my kitchen was one of my first steps on my low waste, zero waste journey. It’s saved me both in money and waste in my kitchen.
Every time I would throw out a paper towel, I’d cringe. I felt like I was throwing money in the trash. It also made me feel so guilty about adding yet another paper towel to the landfills. A change had to be made!
WHY GO LOW WASTE IN THE KITCHEN?
First off, let’s talk money. The average American family spends just under $200 per year on paper towels alone. This is money that you’re just throwing in the trash. This makes my frugal genes cry. Next, let’s talk waste. 13 billion pounds of paper towels are added to the landfill each year. That number is astounding to me! I can’t even imagine what that looks like. I realize that eliminating them in my kitchen isn’t going to make a huge difference to the amount in the landfill but it makes me feel a little better.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
1. Find your culprits. For us, it was paper towels, dryer sheets & coffee filters/k-cups. We weren’t really ever using disposable utensils or plates and bowls. I know k-cups aren’t actually paper. However, they are a huge source of waste. Over 75 million homes use them every day, multiple times a day. Again, astounding number I can’t wrap my head around. So, I’m including them in this journey.
2. Try to get the family on board. I know… this can be worse than a root canal. My husband was the paper towel using king and it drove me crazy. Once I explained to him how much money we were throwing in the trash each month, he came around to liking other options, ha! My kids didn’t have much of an option though. It was more of a habit shift than anything.
3. Hide the emergency supplies. Ok, so in walks reality. As much as I want to be frugal and low waste, I know emergencies happen. I know sometimes children and animals throw up. A bottle of nail polish will get dropped on the floor. Illness can descend on everyone in the house. It happens. For these life emergencies, I do keep disposables on hand. However, I do not keep them readily accessible. I keep these things tucked away in cabinets nobody ever gets into. If they find them, they’ll blow through them.
4. Start slow. Seriously, don’t spring this on your crew all at once. They’ll rebel. Switch out one thing at a time. Give them a little time to get used to each change.
5. Keep it SUPER Simple. You need to make these changes so easy to stick with for your family. In order to stop buying paper towels, you’re going to need a good replacement. Some people have replaced them with unpaper towels. We replaced ours with huck towels. They’re inexpensive, durable and easy to launder. I knew that since we used to many paper towels each week, we’d have to have a good stack of the huck towels to go through between washings. Since they come in packs of 50, I bought 2. It seems to work great for my village.
6. Find easy swaps. Like with the huck towels, you have to make it easy. I keep the huck towels in a basket in the kitchen. When they’re dirty, I have a hanging basket on the side of my kitchen cabinet to toss them into. Easy.
Another easy swap was wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. They create a ton of waste and toxins being released into your home. If you want your laundry to smell good, add a few drops of essential oils in the last 10-15 minutes of your dry time. My favorite is lemongrass, it just smells so clean!
One of the easiest swaps was grabbing a stainless steel coffee filter. No more trying to fumble with trying to separate the paper ones. It’s a pain. I don’t have to worry about finding ones that aren’t bleached either. I just throw the used coffee grounds into the compost bin and rinse it out. Easy!
The last huge waste swap we made was reusable, silicone k-cups. On the weekend my hubby usually makes a pot of coffee but during the week, he’ll load the k-cup machine. The silicone one works great, it’s easy to clean and keeps the waste out of the trash. The best thing is it doesn’t change the taste of the coffee.
That’s it, easy peasy! Did I miss any easy swaps? Let me know in the comments below.
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