Tuesday, January 6, 2009

About Those Paper Towels

Cut down on your paper towel use. Let me repeat that: stop using paper towels to wipe off kitchen counters, to clean windows, to wipe up the kids, to clean up, well, just about everything!
How? There are a number of products on the market - which is right for you? At the Milkweed Mercantile (and in the Milkweed household) we've chosen to sell/use Household Hemp Cloths. It is very important to me to sell only products that I really believe in - and these cloths fit the bill.
Made in the USA by a woman-owned company, the cloths are made of organic cotton and hemp. Hemp has naturally anti-bacterial & anti-fungal properties and can be grown without the use of pesticides. Organic cotton is, well, organic cotton! They are super plush, two-layers thick, and incredibly absorbent. They wash and dry like a dream, and last for years. I know, this sounds like a late-night info-mercial. But stay with me here. Unlike disposables, which you use a few times and then add to the landfill, the two-ply hemp/organic cotton household cloths will last for years. We promise.

Additionally, you will save money in the long run – have you ever paid attention to how many paper towels you use in a year? These towels will pay for themselves in a year, and you can continue to use them over and over and over...
They come in three sizes:
  • 4" x 6" - perfect for a face cloth, baby wipes, washing dishes
  • 8" x 8" - a great kid's napkin, polishing & dusting furniture (if you do those sort of things!)
  • 11' x 11" - the true UNpaper towel, this may quite possibly be the smartest thing you do for your home this year. Brawny paper towels weep when they see a Household Hemp cloth. Even Seventh Generation, in all their recycled glory, can't match the effectiveness and sustainability of Household Hemp.
If you cannot completely cut paper towels out of your life, don't sweat it - just do your best! (Don't you have enough to worry about? Stress is not sustainable!) Here are my tips:

1. For draining fried foods (and yes, everything does taste better fried!) I use newspaper. Most newspapers are printed with vegetable-based inks. If you feel that the newspaper alone is not quite absorbent enough, try using newspaper as an underlayer and one paper towel on top. This cuts down on paper towel use, and is a good compromise.

2. For cleaning: cellulose sponges (real cellulose can be composted when the life has gone out of the sponge), Household Hemp cloths, handmade (crocheted or knitted) dishcloths.

3. For gross things, like, um, dog & cat barf: newspaper, and then some old rags. We seem to have a plethora of them (rags, not barf, thank goodness!). If they are too, too gross, I toss them out. If they are redeemable, I wash them.

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