How to: A paperless kitchen is not a far off idea
July 20, 2015
I like to consider myself pretty eco friendly. I’m always yelling at my roommate to recycle, I’m going through a costly transition to all cruelty-free cosmetics (don’t make fun) and I’m even trying to grow my own veggies this year. But one of the biggest projects I want to tackle is converting my kitchen to completely paperless. That’s right — I’m done with paper towels, napkins and those large tubs of disinfecting wipes.
My grandmother would laugh at me right now. Paper towels? What a waste!
In reality, it’s not a stretch to strive for a paperless kitchen. How quickly we forget that the whole eco friendly call to action is a recent phenomenon because our grandparents (and their grandparents) didn’t have an abundance of paper products like we do today. If anything, that realization makes me more determined to knock out the wasteful cleaning supplies.
This transition is not an easy for everyone and it’s actually best done over a period of time. When making a change of this size, you need to allow yourself time to adjust and prepare. The best thing you can do is set a timeline highlighting small goals.
Maybe in two weeks’ time you want to stock up at least 20 cloth napkins. In another week, dish and hand towels. One more week and you can decide on storage that works for you.
Plan ahead and set goals – if you try to achieve a complete transition in a weekend, it will be a hard adjustment for you and those around you. Make it a learning experience and take the time to find the best solutions for your specific needs.
First, work to gather all your supplies. Start to build up your new towels and napkins while you’re still working your way through your surviving paper products — don’t wait for them to run out.
If you check out our adjoining Pinterest board you’ll find lots of easy ways to create your own linens, whether its napkins, dish or hand towels. If you’re planning to go the DIY route, the consensus seems to be that diaper cloth or birdseye cloth is the best fabric for making your own kitchen towels. This fabric is absorbent and textured, perfect for cleaning up spills and stuck on food. The fabric is pretty inexpensive both in craft stores and online. And it’s super easy for anyone to do – simply cut, hem the sides and voila! Towels!
But what about your favorite dish sponge? Skoy cloths come in for the save. These cool biodegradable towels are designed to replace 15 rolls of paper towel each! They’re super absorbent and long lasting, perfect for washing dishes. They also dry quickly, fighting bacteria build up.
Once you have figured out your paper replacements, it is time to think about storage. You want to keep your towels close by and easy to access. You also want to keep towels separated and organized by use. Claim different spots for napkins, hand or dish towels and rags to make the transition easier on your family.
Keep napkins on your kitchen counter or table in a basket or glass jar. Large candy jars work perfectly for this. The glass containers keep cloths accessible, covered and they create a unique display that adds character to any décor.
For hand towels, hang them over your dishwasher or stove handle – or add an Over the Cabinet Towel Rack. These racks are perfect if you’re still deciding where to stash your new hand towels, because you can move it from cabinet to cabinet. This hanger is designed to slide over cabinet doors and features padding to protect wood from scratches or wear marks.
Rags should be kept accessible too, but you don’t need to keep them out and about. You can keep them tucked in a drawer or under your kitchen sink, but the best idea I’ve found is a unique one. Utilize a Mounted Plastic Bag Recycler to keep rags easy to grab. This bin can be mounted to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. Simply pile in your rags and pull them out one by one when needed – compare it to the way those handy sanitizing wipes pop out of the container.
One of the biggest hesitations that people have when considering a paperless kitchen is the clean-up. It is common to assume that using linens for everything means more laundry, but it’s not the case. If you create an ample supply and utilize a convenient deposit bin for soiled towels, it’s easy – just throw them in the wash with the rest of the towels you’re already washing every week.
Add a small hamper to your pantry or under the kitchen sink to make it easy to switch hand and dish towels every day. The Door knob Hamper is a great addition. Add this small hamper to a pantry or closet door and keep dirty towels tucked away. The hanging design makes it easy to allow towels to dry before combining too, which helps fight mildew and bacteria build up.
It may seem like a small detail, but it is important to ensure your entire household is in the loop. Talk to them, discuss ideas, see what they’re willing to give up and what they’re not – and compromise if you need to. Again, this is a transition not an instant change and it may take longer for some to get with it than others.
Take your time, plan the details and soon you’ll be enjoying the ease of a paperless kitchen.
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