You know what’s just appalling? The state of our environment due to the overproduction and slow landfill decay of single use products and on top of that, holy shit, have you seen how much decent paper towels cost? I am not even kidding you, I will not purchase them. I won’t. I won’t buy them, but I have no alternate solution. I just don’t buy them, and I wipe my hands on my pants or on my shirt or I conveniently drag my boobs across a spill on the counter because that’s how tall I am and I don’t even like that shirt anyway. And then Phil buys some.
Yes, I lay out dishcloths, we have some, and we use them to dry dishes until they’re TOO WET to dry any more dishes, and then they have to sit and dry, or go in the wash. Or there’s one nearby when there is a spill, and we went on this long streak – this INCREDIBLY LONG STREAK, most of it happening while Phil was away for six weeks – where every towel in the house was called into action at the same moment. Like, beef juice ocean, and dish soap in the carpet, and why is water coming out of that pipe, and NO, TOILET, NO. Things that it’s good that you have towels for. Things that you don’t use PAPER towels for. Well, maybe you try to use a paper towel. Like, one time I dropped an entire gallon of milk, it just fell right out of my hands, and I looked all around the kitchen, going, “shit! shit! shit!” I actually say that for real, a lot. It’s unfortunate, but true, but (another but), I’m a person who encounters a lot of shit-appropriate situations.
Anyway, I dropped the milk, and I had my hands THROWN UP IN THE AIR. Like, my body actually reacted in the second least helpful way possible, the first least helpful probably being collapsing into a heap in the spreading pile of milk, and you know what, actually reverse THAT to second least helpful, because at least my clothes would have soaked some up. And I had my hands THROWN in the air, and I’m going, “shit! shit! shit!,” and I grabbed the roll of paper towels! EXCEPT IT WAS JUST ONE PAPER TOWEL! So I FLUNG IT! I FLUNG IT DOWN! And it floated slowly and landed on the puddle of milk, and soaked up, like, one one thousandth of all the milk in the world that was spread thinly over all of the kitchen. That’s why you have DISH towels handy in your kitchen, you know? And that’s why maybe I shouldn’t have been such an ass candle about picking up paper towels once in a while, but I swear on my husband’s poor taste in snack food, have you seen what the hell those things COST?
You can tell me about different brands of paper towels that are cheaper, but I will tell you two things: they’re all too expensive, and I know this, because I have looked at them in the stores with my eyes, so I know that they are all two expensive. Second thing? SHMAZORS. I have made the mistake of trying out a less expensive product when I know that I prefer the more expensive brand, and it is a mistake. You’ve never had a shmazors experience? What about Hunt’s ketchup? NO ONE LIKES THAT. The whole reason that those cute yellow and red picnic style condiment bottles exist is so that unsuspecting people will have Hunt’s or some other LESSER BRAND OF KETCHUP foisted upon their unwilling and innocent food. Or toilet paper. We like the kind in the purple package with the puppy. We have tried other things, and sales may be alluring, but it’s purple puppy all the way, because you don’t want to compromise on price only to find yourself SHMAZORED in your time of GREAT NEED. No, I don’t like how expensive paper towels are, it makes me SHAKE WITH GREAT RAGE, or at least kind of roll my eyes at Phil every time he refreshes the supply I refuse to consider whenever I do the rest of the grocery shopping, but can you imagine just HOW MANY WORDS I would have to say if not only did he bring an objectionably expensive product into my house, but it was also terrible and couldn’t even do its ONE JOB PROPERLY?
Probably at least 2500. Maybe even 3500. It would be a lot.
So I don’t want paper towels in my house. Well, I’m fine with them being in my house, because that part about the environment up there – I’m aware of it, for sure, but… (Let’s just pretend I trailed off and then kind of did like a little thing with my mouth, then maybe looked over your shoulder a bit to see who else was here, maybe some other people had arrived by now, rocked on my heels a bit, noticed my drink was empty, and then kind of just ambled away.)
I don’t want to buy paper towels. I no longer want to participate in acquiring paper towels, because they get used one time and thrown away (“WHICH IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!,” you bellow from across the room, but I’m already involved in conversation with these other people and I wave you off with, frankly, a kind of rude hand flap sort of thing and when I reflect on it later, I probably would realize I can’t really hold it against you if you hold it against me) which only necessitates buying MORE, which is the part I just HATE. The buying. I just HATE it. I need to put a stop to the buying. I want to do no more buying. It is too much money on something I don’t get to use for my own personal happiness. Before you go thinking, “WELL, that’s exactly the kind of person I imagine you to be after the way you treated me at that thing that time,” I get some kind of peripheral happiness from the happiness of others, which counts, sort of, but no one gets happiness from the purchase of paper towels for my house, except for maybe Phillip, and that doesn’t count, because if you asked him if buying paper towels made him happy, he’d say yes, but only because the well has already been poisoned, and he knows that saying that would get under my skin, and we’re due a conversation about the fact that we’re on the SAME TEAM, PHILLIP.
Thus, a solution for paper towels is needed. I asked on Twitter who could link me to an Etsy store or the like for Unpaper Towels – it’s a thing – and a couple people mentioned that they just use dishcloths, or bar mops, or various other types of towels, and I get that those solutions work for a lot of people. And that towels for the kitchen already exist, thus me asking for something that sounds weird and invented for no reason might sound a little crazy. But I’ve tried dishtowels, and I’ve tried cloth napkins, and I’ve tried thick towels and thin towels and wash cloths and old prefold diapers, and while we do our best, they just don’t work for us as a replacement for paper towels. A dish cloth can be used a lot of times, but then it is manky and damp and no one wants to use it and it gets thrown in the wash and maybe it is replaced or maybe it isn’t. Or ALL the dishcloths get thrown into BEEF JUICE OCEAN one day. Also? If you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post about ALL THE SOAP?
We really like to wash our hands. A lot of times. Many times. Many, many, many times a day. My hands don’t feel especially clean after I wash them and then dry them on a damp dishcloth that’s been sitting by/in/around the sink in the kitchen all day. I can’t pat chicken dry with a dishcloth. Or dry potatoes I just scrubbed off. Well, I can. I can do all those things with a dishcloth. But in the course of cooking one meal, we’re talking about a mountain of dishcloths piling up. Not to mention the fact that we usually use paper towels as napkins with dinner.
Okay, I know in reading that it just sounds like a bunch of excuses a habits that need to be changed in order to do things your way (the general, dishcloth-using you), but we tried using dishcloths A LOT OF TIMES, and it just never took. For whatever reason, dishcloths did not fill the many roles that paper towels filled in our house. We made several attempts at it, and I’d know when it failed because Phil would buy some paper towels. So back to the fact that I decided to try something else, and asked for recommendations for unpaper towel vendors.
In general, unpaper towels are exactly what they sound like – cloth paper towels. Which… okay, I see now why they’re called unpaper towels. Because cloth paper sounds ridiculous. I looked at a lot of different vendors and saw several different options. Some offered flannel in colors or patterns. A popular option seems to be a kind that has a pattern on one side and the towels snap together on the ends so that they can actually be rolled around a holder, like standard paper towels. The most common option, though, seems to be birds eye cotton, somewhere between 10×10 inches and 11×12 inches (preshrunk or not depending on the store), serged around the edges in solid or varigated thread.
I looked at a lot of different shops and eventually went with the shop LoveForEarth, one of several recommended to me on Twitter. I liked the positive rec, plus the fact that it’s a popular shop with a lot of sales and a ton of good feedback. There are a lot of other eco friendly products offered in the shop. I ordered three separate dozens of the reusable napkins/unpaper towels (they seem to be called something different in every listing) in grape, papaya, and rainbow. The shipping took a while, but the lead time was listed in the shop note, so it wasn’t a big deal. Not really. Well. It was within the window, that’s what I’ll say. As far as quality, the serging is nice with no loopiness and all the towels were bright white (not that they stayed that way), and were really nicely packaged. Each dozen was actually thirteen, which was a pleasant surprise. There was some huge variations in sizing, which was strange, considering they’re described as washed and pre-shrunk before sewing even begins, but I got over it, mostly because I talked myself into feeling petty about it.
As for use! We haven’t bought any paper towels! By we I mean Phil. Because I wasn’t going to anyway. I can’t believe how successful they’ve been, but it turns out that the key is that they are actually as close to paper towels as possible. They do this because they are single use, just like a paper towel. We keep them in a basket near the sink, and once used, they go in a laundry bag on the other side of the sink. We need a better solution for that right now, but I’m afraid of the dogs running off with the bag. They don’t sit around all damp, waiting to be used again, though they CAN be rinsed out and laid over the faucet to dry – it doesn’t take long. We use them to dry hands, to wipe spills, to WIPE PENNY FACES!!, as dinner napkins, as cooking towels, as potato dryers, as everything. They are everything.
For washing, when the bag is full, they go in the wash with whatever’s being washed. They came with some washing instructions, but I can’t be bothered to be precious with them. I do remove the dryer bar from the dryer when I dry them, because fabric softener lessens absorbency like with any other towels, but other than that, they just get washed. Obviously they’re stained, we don’t care. And I know that by not following the washing instructions (which weren’t CRAZY or anything, I just knew from the start they were being laundered with clothes, end of), if they fall apart sooner than I feel they should, I’ll technically be to blame, but that won’t stop me from being annoyed. In seriousness, they’re pretty hardy little cloths. I don’t expect them to fall apart. I don’t expect them to do anything but keep wiping stuff.
In fact, we actually need more. I bought three dozen initially, but I don’t know if you heard, we really like to wash our hands. We often have an empty basket and a wet dishcloth on the counter, and now I hate dishcloths, too. I’m going to order a few dozen more – for the three of us, multiplied by freakish handwashing, I think I’d probably like to have six dozen or so. Maybe another set dedicated to cleaning, but I DO actually use old prefolds for that. When I order more, I’m considering Athena Creates, Gnome Clothes, and Man In the Moon Herbs for my next sets, so if anyone has any first hand experience there, I’d love to hear it.
ALSO, in case I described the snap together type poorly, here’s a store where that kind is offered.
ALSO, CHURCH WAS SO GREAT TODAY. I’ll save that for another day!