kill fewer trees.

you use too much paper.

how do i know?  just a hunch, it’s based on the fact that i use way too much paper.  i am working hard to reduce it though.  i’m sharing a few tips of how i’ve reduced paper with hopes that you will share a few with me.

1. carry a handkerchief.  it wasn’t until i just wrote this that i realize that for years now i have been mispronouncing this word as hanker and dropping the d. at this point in my life it’s unlikely i’ll change the pronunciation. i haven’t used facial tissue in years, i always blow my nose on a handkerchief.  i often get disapproving stares from people as i return my soiled handkerchief to my pocket, thinking that’s it’s gross and unsanitary.  personally i think deforestation is much grosser than a used handkerchief in my pocket, and i get sick much less than my tissue using peers.  i have a stack of handkerchiefs in my drawer and i use a fresh one each day, unless i’m sick in which case i often use multiple. i generally find that a nice soft handkerchief is also much easier on my nose.

2. carry a bandana – they are good for everything – keeping dust out yr face, making a head band, a sling, but i usually just use them for wiping the sweat off my face on hot days.

3.use cloth napkins. you don’t have to go out and buy fancy cloth napkins, you could certainly sew some yourself out of cloth you like, or you can use old bandanas picked up from the thrift store for a quarter, as we did.  once people see you are using bandanas as napkins they will give you some nice cloth napkins as a gift because they feel sorry for you.  unless you are a messy eater you don’t need to wash them everyday, ours make it though a few meals. we usually eat at the same place each day so we know who’s napkin is who’s but you can always use personalized napkin rings to keep track of who’s napkin is who’s.  it’s on my list of woodcarving projects.

4. use cloth towels instead of paper.  we have a stack of towels in the pantry that gets a lot of use.  covering rising bread, drying dishes, drying hands, covering crocks full of fermenting items.  we usually keep the towel for drying hands in one spot, and a another towel for drying dishes, as reusing towels for drying dishes can spread disease, though we usually just let dishes air dry.

5. use a sponge.  for those big spills in the kitchen use a sponge to clean up not a towel, as they can be more easily quickly cleaned out.  we tend to have a “clean sponge” that we use for wiping off counter tops, and then a “grunge sponge” for dirty jobs; cleaning the stove off, cleaning up spills on the floor etc.  the “grunge sponge” is the old “clean sponge” that started looking long in the tooth.  we cut one corner off the “grunge sponge” so you don’t mix them up.  one additional tip, old sponges can be simmered briefly in hot water to clean them up and stop them from smelling.

6. use rags.  when the clothes or towels are totally shot and can’t be minded anymore, they can become rags.  cut the clothes into sizes that are useful.  for really dirty jobs, such as wiping down bike chains, wiping up paint spills etc, this is what you want to grab.  you don’t have to toss them after use, just sit them to soak in a bucket of cold water and soap before you wash, and wash by hand, or wash in a load with rags alone.

added bonus to all of this is you save money by not having to buy paper products, and you get to make less trips to the trash can on these freezing cold nights.  oh and you keep stuff out the landfill.

other ideas for reducing paper?


5 responses to “kill fewer trees.

  1. While I to am a “person against paper”-I take my own cloth bags to the grocery store where they take .02 cents per bag that I use off my grocery bill, I get and pay all my bills on line , etc–I feel there should be a balance between paper usage and a lifestyle that requires more water usage: especially in light of the drought out west. Water is not a renewable resource while trees are.

    • i can see why out west reducing water use would be a issue, but making paper also uses a tremendous amount of water – not to mention creating massive pollution via dioxins. places in western michigan have crystal clear water and are filled with gorgeous trout, but you can’t eat them because years of paper production have left them filled with dioxins. even though i live in an area with an abundance of water, i’m still very interested in reducing my water use, if for no other reason than the fact that city water is pretty costly. even though reducing paper products does increase washing water, i think with sensible washing methods you can keep the amounts low, and reuse wash water for grey water. (expect posts on gray water installation in the future) water is renewable if we are sensible with our use. thanks for the tips on bags and online bill pay.

  2. patrick, those sponges can also go thru the washing machine, thru the dishwasher, if you use one, or, while quite wet, spend a minute or 2 in the microwave oven–all 3 will seriously reduce the bacterial count.
    we use rags for cleaning. the little ones, like t-shirt arms, go to the ‘bike shop” where they have another life as chain cleaners, etc. the larger ones have their edges serged in a different color so as to differentiate them from the dish towels that share drawer space with them.
    we use handkerchiefs also and have found that cotton batiste makes a tender nose-friendly hanky. linen hankies are stiff, but soften with washing and last so long you can will them to your grandkids.
    we put our dirty rags in a colander. the colander goes in the laundry tub. the exit hose of the washing machine feeds into the colander in the tub. free prewash for dirty stuff. the colander assures us that the rags can’t get into the tub drain and block it, causing the wash water to back up and overflow. water re-use with no effort. 🙂 plus, we get to see what sorts of things make it thru the wash.

  3. These are some great tips, but until it becomes feasible for the world to abandon paper on mass, along with fewer trees being used in construction. Hopefully we can get there one day soon

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