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Living Without the Paper Towel - Reusable Beats Disposable!
Bernadine Mahar talks about living on her small farm on Whidbey Island in Washington State, USA
On our farm, we don't throw much away - everything gets used. For example, the chickens eat our table scraps. What they don't eat ends up in the garden and helps the soil. Glass bottles, metal cans, and most plastic bottles all go to the recycling center, which is about 2 miles up the road. About the only things that end up in the garbage can are plastic food wrap, packaging that can't be recycled, and things like that.
One thing I've learned to live without is paper towels. Surprisingly, the reusable alternative actually works better and is more convenient. Years ago, we purchased a pack of 20 white cotton shop towels at our local big box store. We cleaned out a drawer in the kitchen cupboard near the sink to store the towels. Now, whenever there is a spill or I need to wipe off the table, I reach in the drawer and pull out a cotton towel. The dirty towel then goes into the wash machine. We even use the cotton towels for everyday napkins. They work much better than paper towels, and without the throw-away waste.
Eventually a cotton towel becomes too stained or raggedy to use in the kitchen. Then it goes out to the shop, where my husband keeps a bin of clean raggedy rags for wiping off oil dip sticks and cleaning shop messes.
Small, white cotton "shop" towels are inexpensive to purchase. They are much better at sucking up water and messes than a paper towel - especially after a few wash cycles. And it feels good to throw them in the washing hamper rather than throwing something in the garbage bag. In this case, reusable works better than disposable!
See pictures of our small farm at our website: http://www.muscleandarmfarm.com/