Week 31: These Hands Are Quite Damp

Last week we gave up paper towels. No convenient hand drying paper towels for us! There were some pros and cons, but the biggest thing we learned related to the convenience and availability of paper towels in our home.

We try our very best to live an eco-conscious life. We work to minimize our environmental impact overall. We are not as strict as some people we know, but we are putting in some effort. One of the ways we try to limit waste has always been with napkins and paper towels. We have several hand towels and smaller wash cloths that we try to use as often as possible. They can be cleaned and re-used for quite some time.

Recently we have noticed ourselves using paper products more often than normal. We believe this is due in large part to the convenience. It is convenient to grab a paper towel, clean up a spill, throw it away, and go on with my life. We aren’t the ones that have to figure out what to do with the waste afterward. We put it in the garbage can and forget about it. But with a smidge more effort, we can save money and make an impact.

This is not a new idea. As part of the movement to create less waste, many people are pushing to stop using paper towels and opt for reusable cloth towels. We are not the first and we are sure we will not be the last. Truthfully we forgot how easy it was to live without paper towels. We thought we would spend so much more time washing towels, not so! We found that one towel handled the majority of our wiping, cleaning, and drying tasks for most of the week.

We noticed ourselves being much more conscious and intentional when it came to spills and messes. Instead of using multiple paper towels, we used one hand towel and let it dry.

The most difficult part of this week without involved public restrooms. We both prefer paper towels over hand dryers. Hand dryers are loud, they do not work very well, and, worst of all, they are not very sanitary. There were a few times we almost used the paper towels provided to dry our hands. Joshua had to make due with drying his hands on his pants on more than one occasion. But these minor inconveniences helped us see how often we actually use paper towels.

As we enter into a new week, paper towels are allowed, but we both have found ourselves instinctively reaching for the cloth towel instead. We continue to be amazed at the way our habits can be altered after just one week without something. We are thoroughly enjoying this year and the opportunity we have to shock our system again and again. Our goal is to continue pushing to find the things that are essential and reduce the things that are distracting or wasteful.

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