Green in a Throw-Away World - Part 1
It's Not Easy
Who said it better than Kermit the Frog, when he said, "It's not easy being green." I find it especially hard to be green while living in a throw-away world. I've often wondered if things (such as kitchen appliances) are made with a self-destruction program built into them; programmed to self destruct on a predetermined date (like the day after the warranty is over). Unfortunately most of us find, when an appliance fails, it is much less expensive to just replace it rather than to fix it. Who spends money these days to fix a gas grill? I for one, am trying my best to get back to the green, fixing era and get out of the throw-away era.
Finding New Ways
I am trying to find new ways to reduce my carbon footprint. I admit sometimes my changes are spurred strictly by the high cost of something. For example: I went to BJ's to purchase paper towels. I am smart enough to realize the "select-a-size" are only a good buy if you use one at a time. If using two at a time, they are actually bigger than one of the originals and thereby more costly. That was a good marketing ploy, perhaps even better than the razor theory. Make the consumer think that two equals one when in reality it does not. I've noticed the price of paper towels creeping up in the last few years as has the price of just about everything. When I went to buy them, I almost fell over at the price of $19.99 for a package that only included 12 rolls. Yikes! $1.67 per roll and it seemed we were using close to two rolls per week. (The rolls are MUCH smaller than they used to be.)
I'm neurotic in the kitchen when it comes to cleanliness. I wash my fruits and vegetables and dry them with a paper towel. I'm constantly washing my hands and drying them with a paper towel. Well, not any more. While at BJ's, I walked over to the automotive department and found they had 40 microfiber detailing cloths for $14.99. "Hmmm," I said to myself, "I'd be saving $5.00 and could I manage to use these instead of a paper towel? Could I get myself into the habit of grabbing one of these instead?" I knew the only way it would work, would be to place them directly under the papertowel roll so I would see them as I automatically reached for a paper towel. I am happy to say it worked. For 6 weeks I used the microfiber. The only problem - winter! Because our hands were dry from Old Man Winter, the microfiber stuck to our hands.
I had already saved $5.00 and decided it would make sense to replace the microfiber with white cotton washcloths. Wal-mart sells nine utility washcloths for $3.00. I purchased 4 packages for a total of $12.00 and 36 washcloths. It was a good move; the cotton works better and because I bought white they can be bleached if necessary. They can be found in Wal-mart's kitchen department and are marked "9-pack Utility Dishcloths". I've saved the microfiber cloths to use for cleaning.
For my fruits and vegetables, I now use cotton flour-sack, non-terrycloth type towels - the same towels I use when rising bread. I use those towels only for food. I can wash lots of fruits and vegetables before the towel becomes saturated.
Saving Both Earth and Money
I'm proud to say that my last *kitchen paper towel roll actually lasted for three weeks and my new habit of using cloth instead of paper towels is here to stay! Doing the math: I would have spent $174.72 per year on paper towels for the kitchen, I will be spending $30.24 per year now saving $147.48 per year minus the $26.99 I spent on the microfiber/cotton washcloths is a net savings of $120.49! Not only am I helping to save the environment, I'm saving money!
*I still use paper towels to clean my bathrooms. I don't know if I could ever change that. The thought of reusing a sponge or rag to clean a toilet...ewwww!
Did it Work? Two Years Later
Two years later, I am happy to say, this has worked great for my family. I was even able to move the pile of cloths into a less-conspicuous corner and away from the paper towel roll. I will admit it's time to purchase a new set of utility cloths; these will soon make it into my 'rag bag.' $12 for two years - I think I got my moneys worth!