If you’ve been following the save $50,000 by going green series then you know I’ve been comparing costs of items. Soon I’ll be comparing costs of paper towels vs. no paper towels. Before I go there though I figured I’d explain how we quit using paper towels at my house.
I remember being a paper towel user. We didn’t use many; not even one a day for years but we did keep them in the house and use them some of the time. Then about 3 or 4 years ago we quit cold turkey on basically a whim of mine. It is easy to grab for a paper towel, no doubt about it. However, for us it wasn’t all that traumatic to stop.
At my house I asked myself, “What if the store was out of paper towels?” Then I proceeded to brainstorm the issue.
I’d use something else, find some other solution. A long time ago no one used paper towels. People used cloths and washed them. Or they used a mop. Or a plate . Or a broom. And so on. Asking yourself the question of “What if the store was out of _______” is actually a great way focus on eco-friendly living. It can be applied to so many products.
For example? What if the store ran out of those annoying plastic baggies? How would people ever manage? Well, you could use small reusable containers, fabric snack bags or take a banana (pre-wrapped) vs. a snack that’s not.
What if the store ran out of foil? There are lids, containers, cookie sheets and more to take the place of foil – you’d survive. What if your store was out of paper muffin cups? You could wash the muffin pan after using it maybe.
What if your store was out of….
- Paper clips
- Coffee filters
- Juice boxes
- Video games
- Plastic silverware
- Disposable diapers
- Water filters
- Sticky notes
- Potato chips
- Tea pots
- Plastic wrap
- Jarred baby food
- Plastic bags for groceries (and paper bags too!)
- Paper plates
- TV dinners
- Cotton balls
- Canned foods
- Plastic straws
- Red meat
- Window cleaner
- Video games
If the store was out of all that stuff, you’d still manage. Some items you wouldn’t even notice were missing. Others might make you sad, but you could easily find another way to survive without them. There’s almost always another way to do the same tasks.
If the store was permanently out of the item you needed you would find a new mode of entertainment, figure out how to prepare meals differently, change your diet… you’d figure out a new solution and you’d be 100% fine in the process.
To be a good green citizen, you don’t have to give up all modern conveniences. For example, it’s not like I’m giving up toilet paper or coffee anytime soon, but it doesn’t hurt to try and give up some modern conveniences that are especially harsh on the environment – like paper towels. I mean seriously, Greenpeace has noted in the past that Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family in America purchased just one roll of recycled toilet paper (ONE in their lifetime). Imagine, how many trees we kill with virgin paper towels; paper towels, which are considerably easier to quit than toilet paper in my opinion.
If each of us considers the, “What if the store was out of _______” we might be able to quit a lot of little habits that add up to a lot of earth damage. Use the what if question a little more often, and try to find a better, greener solution, it could add up to a whole lot of change.
The next time you’re at the store, try asking yourself “What if” and see if you can put one or two items back. Let me know if it works for you.
Coming up, problems with paper towels, arguments for paper towels (yeah really) and other tips to help you quit.