I walked through the backdoor of our home feeling so happy. Up until earlier that day, I thought I’d have to order the eco-friendly brand of paper towels I wanted to try on-line, then wait for Amazon to deliver, before getting to see how well they worked. But when I went to Price Chopper that afternoon, my new brand was right there, in the aisle for paper products.
It was as if I’d won a prize!
I arrived home with a pack of eight, removed a full roll of Bounty from the paper towel holder in our kitchen, and replaced it with the new brand, (which is a lot thinner, as it turns out.)
It was around that time when I heard my husband’s office door open.
His footsteps echoed up the tile floor in the rear hallway. He turned the corner to the front of the house and came into view, stopping in the laundry room, squinting into the kitchen. Despite the dim lighting where he stood, I could see his face clearly. Judging from the way he eyed the open pack of towels on the counter and then turned to me, I was in trouble. I reached back and hid the towels behind me, then greeted him with a smile.
“Why’d you buy paper towels?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” I knew exactly what. “They’re Marcal.”
From his confused expression, this meant nothing.
“I’m blogging about that brand next week. Remember?”
He pointed left, to the closed pantry door opposite our front loaders. “We have sixteen rolls of Bounty in there.”
Now it was my turn to squint.
He paced through the doorway into the sun-lit kitchen, folding his arms across his chest as he approached. “We have to use them up.”
“Not at the rate we’re using paper towels these days.”
“I know! We’re doing great!”
It seemed my celebratory tone only made him more afraid over what would become of those 16 rolls. But it was true! We’d had the same one hanging in our kitchen for over a week and had hardly used it. The reason: I switched to bamboo cleaning cloths for wiping around my counter instead, and we’ve put a system place for what we do with them from start to finish!
I keep my supply of clean cloths in a drawer. From there, I hang a new one on the stove handle every day. The stove is in the center of our kitchen and a convenient place to station a cloth for when I need to wipe around. It’s just as easy to reach there as it is to reach for a paper towel. Then, at the end of the day, or when the cloth gets even the slightest bit yucky, I toss it into a small trash can that I’d repurposed as a cleaning- cloth laundry bin.
If the cloth is damp, I’ll hang it on the side of the bin until it dries, to prevent a musty smell. Whenever I get close to running out of cloths, I wash the contents of the bin in hot water, soap, and bleach, to kill off any bacteria. It can take weeks before we run through our supply, though. When I’d purchased the bamboo cloths I bought three boxes, not realizing that each contained three packs of three. I now have 27, 7×8 inch cleaning cloths on hand.
My husband and I have also become more aware of it when we reach for a paper towel, and we’ve been finding ways to avoid it. Now that we have a system in place for our main alternative, that’s become much easier!
“Of course, we’ll use them,” I said. “Why wouldn’t we? But you know, Marcal paper towels are less than half the price of Bounty and they’re eco-friendlier.” (Although, I’ll admit, they’re not nearly as soft or absorbent.)
Marcal started using recycled paper to make their products in the 1940’s, way ahead of when being green was a thing. Back then, it made economic sense. Now Marcal is a division of the green Soundview Paper Company.
Studies have shown that paper mills that use recycled material for their products, consume fewer trees and use less water and power, than companies, like Proctor and Gamble, that chop down virgin forests to make stuff.
“You know what else is great?” I said. “Marcal makes napkins and toilet paper, too.”
Whatever the thought was that crossed my husband’s mind at that moment, it came out as a left side chin twitch at first. He leaned back against the counter, covering his face while he groaned, and then said through his hands, “If you decide to change our toilet paper just give me fair warning.”