The convenience of paper towels is difficult to match, but one Instagram influencer has shown how her reusable kitchen towel system can replace these single-use items for good.
It all starts with an awareness of how and what you clean around your house. Skylar uses three different reusable kitchen towels for three different purposes, which she calls her “clean,” “cleanish,” and “old, dingey” towels.
The “clean” towel is for drying dishes and food only, which she hangs off the oven. The “cleanish” towel is kept on the dishwasher and is used for drying hands and wiping up little spills. The “old, dingey” towels stay hidden in a cupboard and are reserved for deep cleaning.
Skylar also recommends reusable paper towels to wipe down kitchen surfaces, as they have a similar feeling to a paper towel.
She still keeps single-use paper towels in her arsenal, too, specifically for emergencies and pet messes, but her overall use will be dramatically reduced.
She also makes sure to use paper towels made out of bamboo, which is a much more sustainable material than a more traditional wood-based pulp.
Part of the challenge is creating a new habit that lasts, and Skylar has found a way to reenact the throwaway action that makes paper towels so appealing — when she is done with a dirty towel, she chucks it in a pile next to the trash, where it waits to be washed.
“We are here for habits that stick,” she wrote in a caption.
How it’s helping
What’s good for the planet is good for the pocketbook. Households that follow Skylar’s example will be able to cut their spending, while also doing their bit for the environment.
Of the roughly $12 billion that was spent on paper towels globally in 2017, Americans spent about $5.7 billion, per the Atlantic — not only is the U.S. the undisputed hub of paper towel usage, but some serious savings could be in the cards if we broke our single-use habit.
According to the EPA, 1.3% of all municipal household waste comes just from paper towels and tissues, generating a total 3.8 million tons of waste in 2018.
Because that waste is often considered to be contaminated, it is difficult to recycle, even though it is paper-based.
If paper towels end up in landfills, then they are known to produce methane as they break down.
Replacing them with reusable towels reduces that unnecessary waste — and there’s no risk of them producing atmosphere-warming pollution from inside your home.
What everyone’s saying
Skylar’s cleaning hack is a simple system but an effective one, and Instagram users were all over it.
“Love this!” wrote one.
“Cute!” another chimed in.
Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.