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Going Green ~ Saving Green

One way we can execute grace is by preserving the earth for future generations.  If I can minimize my carbon footprint, I offer my children and your children a healthy and beautiful place to live.

Tree in Bloom

I am not a radical environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but there are little ways I take a stab at taking dominion over the earth in an earth-friendly way.

As an added and immediate benefit, it often saves me money.  I want to share some earth and money saving tips from time to time.  These tips are intended to be helpful – not burdensome!  Please don’t think you are doing something wrong if you choose to do it differently!  We all have different passions, values, and motivations – and that is a good thing!


The average American uses about 55 pounds of paper towels, napkins, and tissues per year.  I have nine average American’s in my home… that’s almost 500 pounds of disposable paper wiping things…  it’s kind of a lot.  I can do a little bit to limit our contribution to the land fills.

So, this year I decided to wage war on paper towels.  OK, maybe that language is a little strong – I don’t intend to eliminate our paper towel usage, but I have minimized it dramatically and it is saving us a fair amount of money.

Here’s how:

  • I bought flour sack towels – the least expensive, and largest towels you can find.  I bought two packages at Sam’s Wholesale Club, a smaller household might only need one.
  • I washed and dried my new towels on the hottest settings my washer and dryer offer.  All the shrinking was over with and I can use these washing settings whenever I want without fear of generating towels for our doll house.
  • I then cut my flour sack towels into 4 rectangles – first in half longwise, then each of the two pieces in half on the short side.
  • By cutting into quarters, my pieces were about the size of a full sized paper towel and two sides of each rectangle were already hemmed.
  • I hemmed the two cut edges.  I used a rolled hem because I have this really cool sewing machine foot that does the hard work and I like opportunities to practice the skill of using it.  You can mimic the folded edge of the purchased hems, use a rolled hem, or simply serge the edge.  It doesn’t really matter, the point is to prevent fraying on something you used to throw away, right?
  • I also purchased a toilet paper holder – it’s a cylinder intended to hold 3 rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom.  Mine is frosty white – slightly opaque.  It fits perfectly into the paper towel holder I have hanging in my kitchen.  I leave the lid off and stuff it full of my paper-towel alternative cloths (PAC).
  • I do not fold the cloths, I just jam them into the cylinder.  I have learned to wad them individually so I can pull out just one at a time.
  • We change kitchen towels every morning, so I have a pile of used PAC’s in the kitchen we take to the laundry room every morning with the kitchen towels.
  • Our laundry room has a small basket where we put kitchen towels, rags, and small items needing washing between loads.  We’ve added PAC’s to this basket.  When I am starting a load of white wash, I just throw this small basket in with the load and we have clean PAC’s.
  • imageOur laundry rotation includes a white clothes load (parent’s clothes) on Tuesday and a white bath towel load on Friday.  So at least twice per week the little basket gets emptied.  With the two packages of flour sack towels, I have plenty to make it between washing loads.
  • We still keep a roll of paper towels beneath the kitchen sink for occasions when I don’t want to use my pretty white PAC’s – busted lips, scrapes and cuts from climbing trees, an egg dropped on the floor, potty training incidents… you get the idea.

To give you an idea of how it’s working – we used to go through about 1-1/2 rolls of paper towels in our kitchen per week.  We have used less than 1/4 roll of paper towels since we switched to PAC’s about 6-weeks ago.  That’s a lot of paper towels not in the land fill.  It’s also a huge savings for us when every little bit helps.

Oh – and the cost of the flour sack towels and cylinder for storage was a total of $23.  We’ve more than recovered our initial cost.

I will admit hemming the towels was a bit tedious…  🙂

Photo Credit:
Green Piggy by RLHyde – http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/ [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons