It’s Not As Hard As You Think To Give Up Paper Towels & Give Up Plastic Bags

Do you ever avoid doing something because you think it will be way too hard? I drug my heels on giving up two big items in my kitchen for literally years. Now, as I look back, I wonder how many I could have saved from a landfill if I had simply made a few adjustments. I was scared to give up paper towels and plastic bags because I thought that was simply going to be too hard. 

After two months of a few simple adjustments, I looked back and realized it’s actually been really doable. It hasn’t been full of nasty rags and extra work. What felt like an impossible task has proven to be quite simple. 

How we gave up plastic baggies:

  1. In truth, we haven’t given them up completely. We still have disposable plastic bags because sometimes they are necessary or make life a ton easier. I say this to let you know that we aren’t saints in this area. 
  2. Buy silicone baggies. We purchased silicone reusable bags, which have worked out great for bunches of grapes, pieces of veggies, pretzels, etc. They’re easy to clean and the pack we bought is more than enough for two of us in the house. (We use these.)
  3. Buy glass containers. In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic in our home too, we purchased some glass reusable containers. These replaced our former Tupperware containers. While a little heavier than the plastic versions, they work perfectly and work great for sandwiches, leftovers, and other food we want to take on the go. (These are some good ones.)

How we gave up paper towels:

  1. Again, we still have paper towels in our home, but our consumption of them has decreased DRAMATICALLY since we started focusing on this effort. Just being aware that we want to use less, helps us grab a smaller piece or think first before grabbing a paper towel.
  2. Use rags. I’d always heard about using rags to help wipe down surfaces that you might normally use a paper towel for. As we’ve been cleaning out our clothes, we’ve found tons of old t-shirts that are perfect for these rags in the kitchen. 
  3. Keep them close. A great tip I heard from someone was to keep a stash of your clean rags right near your sink so that you can easily grab them. I was given a decorative vase and wanted to find a use for it. I decide one day to stuff the vase with a ton of clean rags and set it right next to my paper towel dispenser. Now, when I have a mess that a rag can handle, I simply grab one of those instead. When I’m done, it goes straight into the hamper or to dry on the edge of the washer for the next load. 
  4. Wash windows with Norwex. I’m NOT a Norwex rep, but I do love their window rag. I literally haven’t used paper towels to wash mirrors or windows in over three years and I just keep reusing the same rag over and over. It washes great in a washing machine so that you can keep getting more use out of it. 

While we’re not down to zero use of these two items above, we have cut the consumption of them significantly. We’ve cut down enough to notice the change. There are definitely some situations where the disposable option makes more sense, but we’re learning that what we thought would be hard to change has been so very doable with a few simple new habits!