One of the most wasteful things we spend our money on and dispose of every day without regret is the paper towel.
More often than not, consumers are finding that leading a greener, simpler life is also more economical. One of the most wasteful things we spend our money on and dispose of every day without regret is the paper towel. What would modern society do without them, right? But, have you ever paused to think that these convenient little throwaways that cost about a dollar per roll are crowding landfills at alarming rates?
This results in 254 million tons of trash every year. Once used, paper towels cannot be recycled. As many as 51,000 trees per day are required to replace the number of paper towels that are discarded every day.
Other facts you need to know about paper towels include:
- 40% of U.S. landfill trash is paper products.
- The paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming.
- The average American discards of 700 pounds or more of paper each year.
- If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year. Change that to using three less rolls per U.S. household per year, and that would save 120,000 tons of waste and $4.1 million in landfill dumping fees.
- Your typical paper towel is manufactured using chlorine, which releases carcinogenic dioxins and furans.
The statistics are enough to make you think twice about your next roll of needlessly wasteful paper towels, but there are other options to get the job done in a more eco-friendly fashion.
Use recycled paper towels
— If you must go the paper towel route, reach for the ones with recycled content. Many paper towels that are said to contain recycled content only come from mill scraps, so go for the ones that are both “post-consumer
” (the higher the percentage the better) and recycled
— Using cloth towels saves more energy and creates less greenhouse gases compared to paper towels. They also last much longer and don’t get sent off to the landfill after a single use.
— As long as your paper towels are unbleached and chlorine-free, they are safe to toss into your compost bin, not the trash.
Reusable paper towel alternatives
— Go paperless and wipe up your spills with a reusable paper towel alternative, such as this sponge cloth
by Twist. It can not only be used countless times, but it’s also 100% biodegradable. Just throw it in the wash with your laundry when soiled, and it saves far more energy and resources over its lifetime than continually using paper towels.