Continuing efforts to waste less paper at work, I decided to commit to cutting out using paper towels for drying the dishes when I wash them out after lunch. We have folding paper towels at work that fill a drawer at it takes a few to effectively dry a bowl, or say, the cup from my NutriBullet.
Paper towel, like the office paper, was another thing I noticed I was using probably three to five a day of. I’d often only use a little bit of one and save it, but I could do better.
Paper towels can’t be recycled. They are made of thin fibers that make recycling difficult and, of course, are likely to have whatever mess you used them for soaked in. They are, however, very compostable. But if, like me, you don’t don’t (yet) compost, paper towel can just be wasteful.
The recycling and waste manager at Harvard University told the New York Times that it’s estimated that, in many cases, paper towels make up 20 to 40 percent of waste, by volume, that an office building produces.
According to 1800Recycling.com, paper towel waste accounts for 254 million tons of trash per year and up to 51,000 trees per day are needed to replace the number of paper towels thrown out each day.
So in effort to produce a little less trash, I’ve started keeping a cloth kitchen towel at work and bringing it home as needed to wash. On Monday, I’ll bring a second one for use as a napkin to cut out the last few paper towels I use. No more near-clean paper towels in the office trash from me!
But I still have more work to do. The next paper towel task: cutting back on use at home.