Ending the paper trail

May we recommend some reusable options?

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceMarch 28, 2009 

The numbers are nauseating.

If you toss a paper napkin after each meal, that's wasteful.

And if you use five paper towels a day for cleaning, you trash almost 1,000 paper towels each year. That's about 10 rolls.

The numbers add up easily. Besides paper towels and napkins, many Americans use disposable wipes for cleaning.

Why? There are many reusable rags, towels and napkins that won't clog landfills:

TRASH: Using paper towels in the kitchen to clean up spills.

TRY: A reusable, sponge-like cloth.

The Sponge Cloth from Twist Clean absorbs like a paper towel but is reusable like a sponge. It is biodegradable and packaged in recyclable material. Suggested price is $3.99 for a three-pack. Available at Whole Foods markets or find stores at TwistClean.com.

TRASH: Paper napkins with cute cartoon characters for kids.

TRY: Cloth napkins with charming designs.

Kids can wipe their little mouths and hands on cloth napkins from Fabkins. Made with 100 percent cotton, Fabkins are 13 square inches and are designed for lunch boxes and little laps. Plus, they doubles as placemats. Machine wash and tumble dry. Six themes are available and a set of five costs $22.95. Available at Fabkins.com.

TRASH: Bleached fast-food paper napkins made from non-recycled materials.

TRY: Recycled paper napkins.

If you've got to use paper napkins, opt for a recycled version. Seventh Generation napkins are hypoallergenic and made from 100 percent recycled paper. Available in brown or white, lightened without chlorine. A 250-count package of white costs $2.56; a 500 count of brown costs $4.59. Available at supermarkets.

TRASH: Harsh cleaning wipes that don't biodegrade.

TRY: Nontoxic, flushable wipes.

Wipes are a quick way to clean the bathroom, but look for eco-friendly options. The Bathroom Wipes from Method Home can be used on sinks, countertops, faucets and tiles. They come in Eucalyptus Mint scent and can be flushed after use. Safe for septic tanks. $4 for a package of 28. Available at stores such as CostCo or Target.com; also available at MethodHome.com.

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