Reduce, Reuse, Compost My Paper Towels

To be a friend to the Earth in the kitchen, of course it’s best to use only washable towels but I still prefer paper towels in certain situations. For example, I just can’t use towels washed with laundry detergent to dry my produce and knives.

So I do my best to get as much out of each sheet as I can. The trick is to down grade the use as the paper towel gets dirtier. Below, I list the usages with the conditions of the paper towel before and after.

Wrapping Cleaned Greens for Fridge Storage

[ New —> Kind of Clean]

Drying Washed Plates/Utensils for Immediate Use

[New —> Pretty Clean]

Tork HK1975A Perforated Roll Towel
  • For this, I use Tork HK1975A Perforated Roll Towel because of its chlorine-free processing (Green Seal Standard GS-1) and other features
  • Folded paper towel absorbs more water and less likely to tear
  • I sometimes let it air dry on a clean tray, then reuse it for the same purpose

Hand Drying

[New –> Pretty Clean]

  • I use this sheet only after I washed my hands with soap and water
  • I don’t use it for other purposes until it needs to be down graded
  • For repeat use, I use Viva for it’s durability
  • Between uses, I spread it to air dry
  • I still use cloth towel unless I will be eating with my hands (pizza, fruits, etc.)

Soaking up Oil / Cleaning Food Scraps Before Dish Washing

[Kind of Clean —> Not too Clean/Compost]

  • I do this before/instead of rinsing before washing dishes
  • This saves on soap and water because the dishes are now easier to clean
  • Super effective on oily plastic containers
  • When the paper towel has done all it can, I put it in the compost bin for garbage collection (might not work well in the home compost pile)

Prepare Items for Recycling

[Not too clean —> Compost]

  • I clean out the oil and food residues in containers before recycling them
  • I can avoid or reduce the use of soap and water since items don’t need to be food safe clean
  • At this stage, the sheet then goes straight to the compost bin

This strategy might not work for you but you get the idea. I almost never use paper towels outside of the kitchen but the same idea applies, only it might not be compost safe because of the chemicals in your cleaners.

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