Sunday, January 23, 2011
Swearing off paper towels
A couple of years ago one of my dear friends was very pregnant with twins. I decided I'd go clean her house for her to help out one day. Upon arrival, I asked to be shown to her cleaning supplies and she directed me to the hall closet. I found the cleaners no problem, but there was absolutely no sign of paper towels. After tearing apart the closet for a few minutes, I finally asked, "Where are your paper towels?" She pointed to a laundry basket full of rags on the floor of that very same closet.
I thought she was nuts at the time. Why, why, WHY would you use rags when you could just grab a roll of paper towels? My parents made me use rags to clean the bathroom when I was a kid and hated how cleaning with a rag and a bucket of water with cleaner in it always seemed to just push the dirt around and never get anything clean---at least not easily.
Fast forward to today. I spent a couple hours today cutting up old bath towels (what was I thinking buying white towels in the first place???) and zigzagging around the raw edges with the sewing machine to make smaller, paper towel size towels. My plan is to try to use them just as I would a paper towel, but throw them in a fabric bag to go in the washing machine instead of in the trash. I'm not going to do the rag/bucket deal of my childhood. I'm going to spray the cleaner, wipe with the towel, and when it's dirty it's getting tossed in the bag. None of this rinsing out and using again.. Hopefully, since I have around 60 I'll have enough to give me the convenience of paper towels, but the benefit of less money spent and less paper in the landfill.
The Cobbler and I have been trying for a while to reduce our expenses and also be more environmentally friendly. I'm currently making an effort to switch from Windex to vinegar and water as well. Oh how I love my bright blue cleaner in the bottle! It's been hard. I still have one bottle with a bit of Windex left in it so I haven't had to go cold turkey. We still have about 6 rolls of paper towels left. It's time to hide them and see what happens next!
On a separate note of thriftiness, I found out that you can easily make foaming hand soap for pennies if you already have a dispenser. Check out this blog post about making your own foaming hand soap. We use bar soap in the upstairs bathrooms, but need to use foaming soap in the downstairs bath (otherwise the black floor gets instantly gross looking from drips off the bar) and the kitchen (kids drop slippery bars into the garbage disposal). Yesterday I finished off a bottle of foaming hand soap. I squeezed about a quarter inch of a shower gel I don't use into the empty container, slowly filled the rest of the container with warm water, gently shook it up, and voila foaming hand soap!