Want to save money and go green? Having a paper-free kitchen isn’t as hard as it sounds.
We use a lot of paper and it’s doing a number on our environment. From deforestation to pollution from making the paper. It also costs a lot of money over time to disposable products like paper towels and paper napkins.
Several years ago I made the choice to start reducing my use of disposable paper products in the kitchen. It can seem tough at first but it’s really all about habits. We are in the habit of reaching for paper towels, using paper napkins, and possibly even paper plates.
They all seem very convenient but really once you break the habits it’s not any harder to have a paper-free kitchen than it is to have disposable products. Over time it will save you money and it’s a pretty simple way to create less waste.
How to Have a Paper-Free Kitchen
Put Disposable Products Away.
If I have paper towels on my countertop I will use them. It’s too easy and tempting. So take that roll and store it where it’s not so easy to get to. I keep one under my kitchen sink. You may have thought I was going to tell you to not have any at all but there are some messes you may really want some for. I try to use rags that are ready for the trash first but if we don’t have any or whatever, it’s nice to have a backup. That roll should just last a very long time.
Put Cloths in Easy to Find Places.
Now you need to make your reusable products easy to reach. I keep a clean rag on my sink for spills and cleaning up. I have cloth napkins in a drawer that is easy to access and organized. Extra tags and dish rags are in a drawer near the sink and cleaning rags are under the sink. I also keep two clean hand towels out at all times so no one has trouble finding one to clean their hands or dry something.
Have a Basket for Dirty Rags in the Kitchen.
I have a bin under my kitchen sink for dirty rags. You do want to make sure to use clean ones every day or after big messes (or raw meat). Having a place to put your dirty rags just makes it easier and keeps a paper-free kitchen convenient.
Skip Buying Paper Products.
Keep a roll of paper towels but otherwise, stop buying paper products. Until the habits are broken it’s best to keep them out of your house. Once you are in the habit of using reusable products you can keep somethings on hand for emergencies but let yourself get out of the habits first. It’s too easy to slip back into your old habits if the products are on hand.
There are some great products out there to make a paper-free kitchen easier. These are some of my favorites.
- T-Shirt Rags: Simply cut up old cotton t-shirts into rags. This is the cheapest and easiest way to build up your rag stash.
- Dish Rags: I have a lot of dishrags. My kitchen is largely aqua so I have some pretty aqua dish rags but I also keep some dark colored ones on hand in case I’m cleaning things that stain easily.
- Flour Sack Towels: These are great for putting over drying dishes, over rising bread, and things that you don’t need someone really absorbent for.
- Cotton Dish Towels: You also need some more absorbent dish towels for hand drying and cleaning up large spills. I have the nice, pretty ones for hand towels and older ones for spills and such. You want a good stash because you should change hand towels daily. My favorite dish towels are from William Sonoma. They are a bit pricey but they last so well, in the long run, they will save you money.
- Microfiber Cloths: For the kitchen, I just like to have one for glass and windows. Cotton cloths can leave lint on the glass so it’s good to have at least one lint-free microfiber cloth on hand.
- Cloth napkins: I have several sets, cute ones for guests, nice ones for fancy occasions, and dark colored ones for daily use. This is a tip many restaurants use, dark napkins mean fewer worries of stains.
- Grease Splatter Screen: People have asked what I do about draining grease from bacon and such. I let it rest on a grease splatter screen. It may not take all off so maybe you will have to use a paper towel for some but it will still reduce it greatly.
As with all changes, take this slow. Start with removing one type of paper item at a time. I’m a firm believer in slow in steady wins the race.