A Brief History on Paper Towels
Paper towels are synonymous with grocery shopping today, but their history dates to 1879 when Clarence and Irvin Scott – two brothers from Philadelphia founded their paper company. They began to manufacture tissue papers and 1000 sheets were part of a roll, which was sold for ten cents each.
In 1931, the company realized that paper towels had a huge potential. A brand new grocery category was created in the early 1930s and paper towels were manufactured specifically for kitchen use. These rolls were eighteen inches long and thirteen inches wide, and given the convenience they brought to the average household, paper towels gained acceptance before replacing cloth towels.
These conveniences that single-use paper products offer, however, led to a “throw-away” culture that cemented a habit that's generally hard to break: From 2010 to 2060, the global consumption of pulp and paper is expected to double. The increased paper production will also add further to the pressure on the world’s forests that are already in a critical state - and constantly getting worse. In the past 20 years, a total of 386 million hectares of forest were lost globally (in all forest types combined). This loss represents an almost 10 % decrease in tree cover since 2000.
Using the Right Tool for the Job
In a bid to reduce the use of single-use paper towels, we first need to understand that paper towels aren't the absolute solution to all your household boo-boos. No, silly. You don't use a shotgun to kill an ant right? This simply means you should optimize the use of paper towels without killing trees unnecessarily. Using the right tool for the job is about understanding your modus operandi better when it comes to cleaning with paper towels.
Paper towels are almost a necessity for taking care of business with the microwave (without having one of those silly looking uni-tasker trays roaming around) while cooking our bacon in the oven. A few layers of paper towels to catch the grease, hands down, make for the crispiest bacon, with little clean up or frustration. Simply put, when dealing with oil and grease, paper towels are still the perfect tool hands down!
And how about our 4 legged friend, "Monkey"? "Monkey" is a British Short Hair feline who pukes out fur balls every now and then. We could use a sponge cloth to pick up the slimy puke-y mess, but it just doesn’t stick to the sponge cloth and we end up spilling some on us, while running to the the sink like a child screaming eeeeeeeewwwwwww!
Well, apart from what we've mentioned, how often do you use a paper towel? Twice a day? How about 4 to 5 times every other day? I'm guilty of 8 to 9 per day and it may seem like just another number, but here's a little food for thought: Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 liters of water and 17 trees. But wait, paper towels don't get recycled as it either goes to the incinerator or landfill.
So the next time, you decide to soak up a spill or wipe some mess of the table with a paper towel, which is always the easy way out, it's extremely wasteful and there are many other green options to your household woes.
1. Old Clothes and Towels as cleaning rags. Whether you are upcycling or downcycling, finding a different purpose for any product simply means you are reducing waste by reusing old products to clean up messes and countertops.
2. Old Newspapers to wipe those mirrors and glass windows. Well, I think this is old news, but newspapers only have a shelf life of 1 day, so if you could find more uses for them, why not?
3. Neuhabitat Sponge Cloth, one sponge cloth is all you need (or maybe 2). The best alternative would be to grab a sponge cloth to do everything we've mentioned above (apart from the oil, grease and puke); this is the ultimate cleaning, wiping, soaking and drying tool that every home should have.
Neuhabitat Sponge Cloth
Looking back at my cleaning processes, I think I've done right by reducing my paper towel usage and organizing my sponge cloth collection purposefully. They (my sponge cloths) actually gave me a better perspective on life as a whole. Hence, Neuhabitat was created with an objective in mind, to put a sponge cloth in every home in Singapore. Somehow I feel that if you are doing it right by your family, they will love you for it and so will Gaia.
More tips on usage and caring for your sponge cloth in my next article.
For more details about Neuhabitat’s sponge cloth, click here.