There are lots of paper towel alternatives that are eco friendly and reduce waste. Try a recyclable sponge cloth, make your own reusable wipes, use re-purposed wash cloths, cut up an old towel, microfiber cloths or unpaper towels. Swapping paper towel for an eco friendly alternative is a great sustainable choice.
Why swap paper towel for an eco friendly alternative
Paper towel can’t be recycled which means they end up in landfill or in the ocean. Paper towel is made from trees where the timber is chipped and then turned into pulp.
Around 110 million trees will be used for paper towel each year and families are spending a lot on paper that is thrown away.
The other reason to swap paper towel for an eco friendly alternative is that there are lots of practical and cost saving alternatives. swapping paper towel is an easy way to reduce our impact on the environment, and a great way to improve our growing waste problem.
Eco friendly choices that can replace paper towel
Choose recyclable alternatives
Instead of using paper towel which is thrown in the regular bins, choose alternatives that instead can be recycled. Cloths that are recyclable, biodegradable and made from renewable resources actually exist. When you are looking at a product make sure that the packaging in recyclable too.
Choosing a regular washcloth which can be used over and over again will easily outlast paper towel. A recyclable cloth can last as long as 15 rolls of paper towel which makes it the better eco friendly choice.
Cloths bought in packs of 10 then you will be saving 150 rolls of paper towel at least for each pack. If you pay $1 per roll that’s $150 wasted on paper towel compared to around $6 for a pack of cloths. Look out for companies who do fully recyclable cloths and packaging.
Microfiber cloths can be a great paper towel alternative. Just throw them in the wash when they need to be cleaned. I try to make sure when I wash the cloths that they are sharing the washing machine with tea towels to keep them away from dirty clothes.
If kids have been playing in the mud, I try and avoid putting my kitchen cloths in the wash with the muddy clothes so that the excess dirt doesn’t get on the cloths which will be used in the kitchen.
Repurpose old towels and washcloths
Use old linen napkins or wash cloths as the perfect paper towel replacements. Just keep them in the kitchen within easy reach. I keep some in the bottom drawer in my kitchen where the tea towels are kept. If they are in easy reach they you will be more likely to use them.
You can also make your own paper towel alternatives by cutting up old cloth diapers (nappies if you are Aussie) or even an old bath towel. Just cut the towel up into small pieces, whatever size you prefer and give them a wash. Washing them first gets them nice and clean for kitchen use, especially if they have been hanging around in your cupboard for a while.
These are great for cleaning spills off of the floor. If you have been using these cloth nappies for your baby it is best not to use them in the kitchen. They are instead great for cleaning cars and windows.
Use unpaper towels as an alternative to paper
Unpaper towels are made from cotton, are sewed together and can snap together and fit on paper towel reel. It’s just like using paper towel as they come off a reel and when you are finished with them you can thrown them in the wash (instead of in the bin like normal paper towels).
Unpaper towels can be used multiple times because they are cloth and will soak up much more than a normal paper towel. They come in lots of colors and patterns to suit your kitchen. If you get them in a nice color you will probably want to keep them out on the bench so you can grab them easily.
If you are the crafty type (not me!) you are probably clever enough to make them yourself. You can choose the fabric you want, add press studs to the ends to join them together and there you go. There are tons of patterns online, click here for a great link to learn to make them yourself without needing a sewing machine.
How to drain fatty food without paper towel
One of the main uses for paper towel, other than wiping up spills is to drain fatty foods. I know that if I have accidentally splashed too much oil in the pan while I was frying, I used to just grab out some paper towel and place the food on it to soak it up. There are some great alternatives that are eco friendly.
Using a wire rack with a plate underneath is simple solution to drain fried chicken. The fat or oil that drips out can then be scraped into the bin. Another great option is to keep the crusts of your bread in the freezer and when you have food you need to drain, place them on the bread.
Easy changes to make in the kitchen to save money and reduce waste
There are many other simple changes you can make around your home to reduce waste and save money. Single use plastics that used to be a staple in our kitchens can be easily swapped in for more eco friendly choices.
A great starting point is to swap out your plastic wrap. There are so many options available like reusable food covers, beeswax sandwich wraps and bento lunch boxes. Most of the time, instead of wrapping a sandwich in plastic for lunch it will stay just as fresh placed in a lunchbox with a sandwich compartment.
A lunchbox with little snack compartments can replace the need for single use plastic bags.
Paper towel alternative that is eco friendly – Summary
Eco friendly paper towel alternatives include washcloths, microfiber cloths, recycled towels, washcloths and unpaper towels. Choosing a paper towel alternative that is eco friendly is a fantastic way you can become more earth friendly. There are many options to suit all budgets and craftiness. Have a go at swapping your paper towel for an eco friendlier option.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.