In the never-ending quest to become more mindful of my footprint, a “right in front of your nose” moment smacked me in the forehead when researching PeopleTowels reusable cotton towels. See, paper towel reuse is such an obvious way to recycle paper, that it’s easy to miss its importance. Each morning, as I sip my coffee in my reusable mug, feeling quite smug, I see a wasteful roll of paper hanging right in my line of sight that uses 250 gallons of water a year — just from my use alone! How could I ignore this fact until forced journalistic insight? I presume that I am a product of coffee shop socialization. Among the coffee thermos users, there seems to be a shared sense of actively supporting the sustainability effort. Personally, I can say this with the admitted experience of (kindly and successfully) demanding my 10% discount at my local shop for my efforts, especially with water being scarce in Southern California. While the devastation of our environment from using paper coffee cups again and again out of convenience has been made clear, not enough has been said about the use of paper towels. The information on the waste, the PeopleTowels product and where to pick them up are all right here.

Our waste

The waste of convenient paper towels is practically written in our polluted air and diminishing resources, as seen straight from the PeopleTowels website:
  • To make 1 ton of paper towels, 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted.
  • Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the U.S. alone.
  • Decomposing paper towels produce methane gas, a leading cause of global warming.
  • The average person uses 2,400-3,000 paper towels at work in a given year.
Our collective choices every day make a statement, and PeopleTowels aims to make one of sustainability.

The PeopleTowels product

Plenty of products claim to be “eco-chic” or green, and this product certainly does that, but it also lives up to its name. The 100% organic fair trade cotton cloth is reusable, absorbent and quick drying, with hang tags to attach to your belt buckle, backpack or purse. Even better: It’s stylish enough to make a consumer OK with that notion. With a variety of offerings and trendy names to match bright colors and unique designs (all mix-and-matchable), collections such as “Peace, Love & People Towels” make paper towels kind of, well, cool. Three-towel sets are $21 and five-towel sets are $35.

Where to buy

The company’s motto, “Change is at hand,” really means just that. While currently only available to Pennsylvania and California residents at limited stores, anyone can purchase PeopleTowels online as the product’s availability expands. Current retail locations include Save Some Green in Philadelphia and Cornucopia Community Market, Eco Goods and DRESS for CHANGE in California. Check out consumer comments about the usability (and look) of this product. As for personal recommendations, I’ll weigh in with my opinion when answering handpicked reader questions.