Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Green Miles Gets on the Rag

A few months ago, I was about to throw some old t-shirts on the pile for a future trip to Goodwill. But at the last second, I thought to myself, "Would anyone really want to wear my old yellow-and-blue Frederick 5K shirt?"

So I got a pair of scissors and sliced it up into rags, stuffing them into a cabinet next to my reusable grocery bags near the kitchen sink. I started using them to clean the counters and other kitchen surfaces. It's worked out pretty well, very convenient since I don't have to worry about running out of paper towels as much.

Then on July 23rd, my Green Page-a-Day calendar delivered another epiphany: My new rags are environmentally friendly:
Overall, according to an estimate from the National Zoological Park, the production of paper towels is more than twice as energy-intensive as the reuse of cloth (factoring in washing and initial production).
IdealBite.com confirms that dishcloths are both economical and environmentally friendly. It reports the average household could save $100 a year by switching from paper towels to dishcloths. And can you believe Americans send 3,000 tons of paper towels to landfills every day? The vast majority of that comes from virgin forest.

When you do need to buy paper towels, look for 100% recycled paper with the highest post-consumer content available. Don't freak out if they're not white -- paper companies use very environmentally-unfriendly chemicals to bleach paper towels. And let's face it -- they're just going to end up brown after you wipe up that spilled coffee anyway.
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