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Bleached. Recycled. or Cloth.

People TowelsYou are at home and spill something on the floor. What do you do? Without a thought, you reach for the paper towels to wipe it up.

You are having dinner and are setting the table. What do you do? Out of habit, you reach for the napkins to place under the cutlery.

You are at work and there is no eco-friendly hand dryer. What do you do? Go for the paper towel, of course!

All these paper towels and napkins are produced for a single use purpose. They are thrown in the trash to ultimately end up in a landfill creating an enormous environmental impact.

Did you know:

  • 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed to produce 1 ton of paper towels.
  • Paper manufacturing is the largest industrial user of water per pound of finished product.
  • Individuals use 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels per year.
  • In the US, 3,000 tons of paper towel is discarded daily.
  • When paper towels rot in landfills, they produce methane gas, which is 25 times more toxic than CO2.
  • Many brands of paper towels are bleached. Dioxin is a byproduct of the bleaching process, and it has been known to cause health problems in humans.

How can one person make a difference?

The first step is for people to switch to recycled paper towels and napkins. It is such an easy thing to do. 544,000 trees would be saved by replacing a 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels.

If given the choice, use a hand dryer instead of paper towels. The over all carbon footprint of the hand dryer out weighs the manufacturing and waste associated with paper towels.

Want to take it one step further?

Use cloth towels and napkins; just like in fancy restaurants. It is easier than you think to, simply, have towels available in the kitchen to wipe up spills; use cloth napkins for dinner; have a cloth towel handy when you are outside of the home.

One company that seems to get it is PeopleTowels. Their towels are 100% organic, Fair Trade cotton and only printed with earth-friendly water soluble dyes.

I was imagining all the napkins and paper towels that I use outside of the home; not really thinking of the environmental impact of my single use paper towel.

At that point, I wondered if anyone made a reusable towel that I could take with me. This is how I became the owner of PeopleTowels.

According to PeopleTowels website, if 1 in every 4 adults in the U.S switched to PeopleTowels for a year they would:

  • Save enough trees to cover the state of Alaska
  • Reduce landfill waste equal to filling Fenway Park 4 times
  • Conserve 22,000 Olympic size swimming pools of water
  • Cut CO2 emissions equal to the amount released by 815,000 cars.

I am happy knowing millions of trees will be saved, large quantities of waste will be diverted from a landfill and CO2 gas emissions will decrease all because I decided to buy a few towels!

This helps me sleep at night; knowing my small everyday action can and will make a difference.

The choice is now yours. Bleached. Recycled. or Cloth.

People TowelsI did not receive any compensation and was not asked in anyway by PeopleTowels to write this blog post. This was all done by my own free will. However, if someone wants to send me a Towel, I would not say no. 🙂

Source: PeopleTowels and NRDC

Reader Interactions


  1. Tanya says

    You always find the coolest alternatives. We are trying to give up paper towels, have been using recycled ones for years now, and micro fiber towels in place of them whenever possible. My issue has been with our Zoo, we have 8 cats and 2 dogs and there is always a mess somewhere. I’m thinking, with our move into the new house in Sept., of going to rags/small cloth towels and use the shake into the toilet, soapy water bucket (like with cloth diapering) method, to reduce further. Thanks for another great option!

  2. Lindsay says

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m a new follower of yours.

    I am the same way with paper towels and napkins. They’re always my go-to for cleaning up. After reading your facts, I’m definitely considering on switching to cloth.

  3. Melisa - Mommy This and That says

    We use napkins. I made sure to buy a bunch and half are for cleaning the counter and the other half are for napkins. I bought enough so that I am not always washing them. But we also do always have several rolls of paper towels on hand but probably only buy them twice a year.

  4. Lisa @Granola Catholic says

    I am definitely a cloth towel girl. And we wash them in vinegar to keep them clean. I prefer to line dry them to further sanitize them. We also use cloth napkins. We have “everyday” cloth napkins. Funny story. MIL and GMIL were visiting and sharing dinner with us at home. They asked for a napkin and my daughter gave them each a cloth napkin. They wanted paper. Amazing part is that even after 20 years with DH they did not realize that I do not use paper products. Even when entertaining. I mean a girl has to exercise that china sometime.

  5. Leovi says

    You are quite right, so at home we use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused many times. When we use are too old to clean stains from the floor.

  6. Shanda says

    Great post…tweeted it. I never use paper plates and disposable silverware but have to admit that I do use napkins. Thanks for this.

  7. Jen says

    I gave up paper towel just over a year ago and love it (except when I cook bacon..then I curse not having any). I make cleaning cloths out of old clothes and have fabric napkins for meals. Now the one good thing is that if I did use paper towel (for bacon) I could compost it.

  8. Liz @ Try On Life says

    Great post I am going to check out people towels! I found that by not buying paper towels we don’t use them! Yes I have them, but we really only use them for when we eat crabs or the dogs puke. We clean with cloth and use cloth napkins. If they aren’t sitting out people always grab a cloth!


  9. Self Sagacity says

    I like using the towel when I can, mostly because it is expensive to use paper towels for every wiping you need to do. Cheap paper towels can only be used once sometimes not sufficient enough.

  10. Susan F says

    We went cold turkey about 5 months ago. It was way easier than I thought. Cloth napkins, washcloths, kitchen towels, and we are done with disposable junk. Or so I thought.

    Last month for my daughters birthday party at the local hotel, we bought napkins. I don’t know what I was thinking but now I have these things sitting in my house and they look obscene. So, in the hutch they go because maybe someday we’ll need them for another birthday party or something….. I could have just used washcloths for the kids but didn’t think of it.


  11. jessica says

    I’ve been wanting to try cloth just nervous to give them up completely, but you have motivated me to finally order some and stop putting it off:)

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