In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards sustainability and reducing waste. One area where this trend has taken off is in the use of reusable paper towels, also known as unpaper towels or paperless towels. These washable paper towels are a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional paper towels, which are single-use and contribute to the world's waste problem. In this post, we'll discuss what reusable paper towels are, their pros and cons, key considerations when choosing them, including choosing between different materials.
What are Reusable Paper Towels? Why They're the Eco-Friendly Choice
Reusable paper towels are washable, reusable, and more durable alternatives to single-use paper towels. They are typically made of absorbent materials such as cotton, linen, bamboo, or microfibre. These towels can be used for the same purposes as regular paper towels, such as wiping up spills, cleaning surfaces, and drying dishes.
Pros and Cons of Using Reusable Paper Towels - Is It Worth the Investment?
As with any product, there are pros and cons to using reusable paper towels. Here are some of the key ones:
- They are eco-friendly. Reusable paper towels help reduce waste, conserve resources, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study by the Environmental Paper Network, if every household in the US replaced ONE roll of virgin fiber paper towels with recycled/reusable paper towel, it would save 544,000 trees and 2.1 million cubic feet of landfill space.
- They are cost-effective. Reusable paper towels can save you money in the long run, as you don't have to buy new rolls every week or month. Depending on the quality and quantity of reusable paper towels you buy, they can last for years with proper care and washing. You can also make your own reusable paper towels from old clothes or fabrics that you have at home.
- They are versatile. Reusable paper towels can be used for a variety of purposes, such as cleaning spills, wiping counters, drying dishes, dusting furniture, polishing glass, and more. You can also use them as napkins, placemats, or wraps for food. Some reusable paper towels have snaps or buttons that allow you to attach them together and roll them up like regular paper towels.
- They are aesthetically pleasing. Many reusable towels are made from colorful fabrics and can add a nice touch to your kitchen or dining area.
- They require maintenance. Reusable paper towels need to be washed regularly to keep them clean and hygienic. This means that you need to have access to a washing machine or a sink with soap and water. You also need to dry them properly to prevent mold or mildew from growing on them. Some reusable paper towels may shrink or fade after washing.
- They may not be as absorbent or effective as disposable ones. Depending on the material and quality of reusable paper towels, they may not be able to absorb as much liquid or dirt as disposable ones. Some reusable paper towels may also leave lint or streaks on surfaces that require a smooth finish.
- They may not be suitable for all situations. Reusable paper towels may not be the best option for cleaning up hazardous materials, such as blood, oil, or chemicals. In these cases, disposable paper towels may be safer and more convenient to use and dispose of.
How to Choose the Best Reusable Paper Towels
When choosing reusable paper towels, there are some factors that you should consider to ensure that you get the best value and performance from them.
- Size and shape: Reusable paper towels come in different sizes and shapes, such as squares, rectangles, circles, or triangles. You should choose the size and shape that suits your needs and preferences. For example, if you want to use them as napkins or placemats, you might want to choose larger and rectangular ones. If you want to use them as wipes or dusters, you might want to choose smaller and square ones.
- Quantity and quality: Reusable paper towels also vary in quantity and quality. You should choose the quantity and quality that matches your budget and usage frequency.
- Design and colour: Reusable paper towels also come in different designs and colours, such as plain, patterned, solid, or multi-coloured. You should choose the design and colour that appeals to your aesthetic sense and complements your home decor.
- Brand reputation: Look for reputable brands with positive reviews and a track record of producing high-quality, sustainable products.
- Cost: Reusable towels can range in price depending on the material, size, and design. Consider your budget and how much you're willing to spend on a set of reusable paper towels.
- Cleaning instructions: Reusable paper towels may require special care when washing and drying to maintain their integrity and absorbency. Consider the cleaning instructions and whether they fit with your lifestyle and habits.
Exploring the Best Materials for Reusable Paper Towels
There are several materials to choose from when it comes to reusable paper towels. Here are some of the most common ones:
Reusable Cotton Paper Towel
Responsibly Sourced Cotton - Cotton is a popular material for reusable paper towels as it is soft, absorbent and very durable. When grown using conventional methods, cotton requires a lot of water, fertilizer, and pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment and the health of farmers. Make sure you choose brands that source the material from eco-friendly and ethical sources.
Reusable Bamboo Cloth Towel
Responsibly Sourced Bamboo - Bamboo is an eco-friendly material that is sustainable and grows quickly. It is also naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. However, bamboo fabric production can be harmful to the environment if not done sustainably. Like cotton, make sure you choose brands that source the material from eco-friendly and ethical sources.
Cellulose Blend - Cellulose blend is a synthetic material made from wood pulp and cotton fibres. It is often used for Swedish dishcloths, which are thin and flexible cloths that can replace paper towels and sponges. Cellulose blend is very absorbent, durable, quick-drying, and easy to clean. It can also be composted at home or in an industrial facility. However, cellulose can be less soft and fluffy than other materials. It can also wear out faster than other materials if used with abrasive cleaners or scrubbers. Cellulose blend can also be more difficult to find than other materials.
Learn more about Swedish Dishcloths here
Reusable Linen Paper Towel
Linen - Linen is an eco-friendly fabric because it is a sustainable resource that can be grown and harvested without damaging the environment. The flax plant is a hardy crop that requires little water and can be grown in a variety of climates. Linen fabric is durable and biodegradable, it will break down naturally over time. However, it is not as absorbent as some of the other materials and it may be more expensive than other materials.
Reusable Hemp Cloth Towel
Hemp - Hemp is a sustainable material that is eco-friendly and durable. It is also naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. However, hemp can be prone to wrinkling like most natural fibre, and it is more expensive than other materials.
Reusable Microfibre Towel
Microfibre - Microfibre is a synthetic material that is highly absorbent and effective at cleaning up messes. It is also durable and can be washed and reused multiple times. However, it is our least favourite option, as it is not as eco-friendly as other materials because it is made from synthetic fibres, which are not biodegradable and contributes to micro-plastic pollution.
When choosing a material for your reusable paper towels, consider your needs and preferences. Do you want a material that is highly absorbent, durable, eco-friendly, or all of the above?
Conclusion: Why Reusable Paper Towels Are Worth Your Investment
Reusable paper towels are worth your investment because they can save you money and reduce waste in the long run. They can be washed and reused multiple times, by switching to reusable paper towels, you can help the environment and your wallet at the same time.
At Aiteall, we have a wide range of reusable paper towels and Swedish dishcloths that are sustainably sourced from independent Canadian small businesses who are passionate in producing and sourcing sustainable products. You can find our selection here.