Use Cloth Towels and Napkins

Do you need disposable paper products like paper towels and napkins?

The average American family creates about eighteen pounds of trash per day - that's equal to the weight of three bricks! Most of that waste is sent to a local landfill, where items like plastic can take decades or longer to degrade. Items in your recycling bin may also end up in a landfill. Landfill waste is harmful to the environment because it produces a powerful greenhouse gas called methane, which contributes to climate change. Climate change will impact everything in our lives, including the seasons, the ocean, plants, and animals. 

One culprit? Disposable paper products like paper towels, paper plates, and paper napkins. Americans send 3,000 tons of paper towels to the landfill every day. And, not only are paper towels and napkins filling up landfills, but they also use a huge amount of natural resources. The paper towels that we use in a single day take 60 million gallons of water and 51,000 trees to make.

Can you replace the paper products in your house with cloth?

1. Think about where you use paper napkins and towels

For most of us, we use a lot of these products in the kitchen, but we may also use paper products when we're cleaning up in other rooms. Identify where you will need to have a pile of cloth napkins, towels, or rags to help make the switch easier.

2.  Make or find cloth alternatives

Do you have an old T-shirt, towels, sheets, or other cloth available? Cutting up old fabric is a great way to get a pile of "napkins" or paper towels and it reuses something that might otherwise go in a landfill. We also like to use old baby blankets and cloth diapers. If you know how to sew, you could sew the edges for longer-lasting cloth. 

Don't have any fabric on hand? You might consider purchasing fabric or buying cloth napkins. In the long-term, cloth products will save your family money because you can re-use them for years.

3. Reflect on the change

Was it easy or difficult to get used to using cloth instead of paper? What do you like about the change? What do you not like? What does your family think?

Take a photo of your napkins in use and share it on social media. Make sure to tag @peancorg and #PEAYoungLeaders to be entered into the weekly Young Eco Leaders Raffle. 

Click here to return to the list of all Young Eco Leaders activities

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