Emerging Circular Trends - Paper Towels and Waste Reduction
Reducing the amount of waste we produce should be on top of our to-do list. But sometimes can be tricky.
Although our paper towels are plastic and tree-free, they’re still single-use products.
Yet, we’ve caught up with the most recent circular trends in using paper towels and we’ve got some exciting green ideas to share with you.
Ready to go (nearly) zero waste?
Consuming less paper towels
In a circular economy model, the 5R-rule rules.
And guess what’s the most imperative “R” out of the 5 ones?
Yep, Reduction. Consuming less should become a viral trend in the 21st century. And you should chase it. While cutting our own throat when saying that, we want to cut down on waste too.
Just think that, on a global scale, 254 million tons of kitchen paper ends up in a landfill every year. Here, it will slowly decompose and give off methane, which is a greenhouse gas over 30 times more potent than CO2.
That’s why it’s important to know how to shrink the amount of paper towels you go through.
But how can you do that?
First, you can apply the shake & fold method. Just shake off the excess water off your wet hands 12 times before drying them with a single hand tissue paper. Using this simple two-step technique, you should need no more than 1 paper towel to dry your hands.
Also, hand dryers can be handy. While we doubt you’ll have one at home, you often find them in public washrooms. But not all hand dryers are equal. You should go for cold-air machines that waste 70% less CO2 than both warm air hand dryers and paper towels.
Other than drying your hands more efficiently, you could make the most out of what you already got. Like the napkins that come with your Friday night food delivery.
Speaking of food, whenever you fry something, don’t use paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Instead, place your oily food on a rack and put it on top of a sheet pan. This way the oil will drain off inside the pan.
Thanks to these tips, you’ll cut down your paper usage. Yet, it will be tough to zero it.
Reusable paper towels
Once you’ve run out of ideas for reducing your hand tissue paper consumption, you can go to the next level of the circular economy framework: Reusing.
Reusable towels are a trendy item nowadays. You can buy paper-free options made of cotton, flannel or microfibers.
Or even better, you can make your own reusable cloth by upcycling old clothes. If you have a T-shirt that doesn’t fit you anymore or it’s worn out, don’t bin it. Just cut into a rag and use if for cleaning. That’s a fashionable trend to slash the environmental impact of the textile industry.
While saving on paper, this option is not zero waste. That’s because you need energy, water and chemicals (e.g. bleach) when cleaning and drying the cloth.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable going paperless, you could opt for reusable bamboo paper towels. These are thicker than single-use bamboo kitchen paper rolls, thus absorbing much more. The cool thing is you can use them up to 100 times. Based on some estimates, a single roll of reusable bamboo kitchen rolls does the same job of 286 rolls of disposable kitchen paper.
Although the initial investment is bigger compared to single-use rolls, reusable bamboo paper towels will pay off their cost in the long run.
Go green with paper towels
The alternatives abovementioned will let you save on “visible” paper waste.
However, by choosing greener paper towels, you can reduce the waste you don’t see.
What’s this ghostly garbage are we bragging about?
What we mean is the resources consumed when making the paper.
That’s why you want to make sure to go for sustainably produced kitchen paper, like recycled paper towels. Recycling a tonne of paper means saving 3 yd3 of landfill space, 30,000 L of water and up to 4,000 kWh of electricity.
However, when you think that a ton of virgin paper towels translates into 17 trees being cut down, it would be better to chase the tree-free trend. You can do that by buying forest-friendly bamboo kitchen rolls.
Bamboo is a grass that naturally grows super-fast. Which means you’ll save on trees and fertilisers. Plus, bamboo needs 30% less water and land than trees to flourish.
So, how much should bamboo paper towels cost?
While they can be more expensive than regular kitchen paper, these eco-friendly rolls compensate for the environmental cost of tree-greedy paper towels.
Anyway, besides an eco-conscious shopping, paper towels could help you slash other kind of waste.
For instance, when using disposable kitchen paper instead of a reusable cloth, you’ll save on energy and water. And that’s crucial as WWF predicts two third of the global population may struggle with water shortages by 2025. This is because climate change is turning off the sky tap for longer in different areas of the world.
Also, you can let your creative juice flow.
For instance, why not wrapping your sandwiches with 100% biodegradable kitchen rolls rather than using plastic films? That’s a far more eco-friendly packaging solution as the paper towel will break down pretty fast compared to plastic, which usually takes up to hundreds of years to decompose.
By the way, a bonus hack to repurpose your leftover paper towels would be composting.
If you have a kitchen or garden composter, you can throw paper towels in it unless they’re contaminated with poo, oil, or chemicals. Doing so, you’ll upcycle your discarded paper into a green fertiliser.
There you are. These are the circular trends to follow for making the zero paper waste dream come true.
Reusable towels are an interesting alternative, especially when choosing bamboo-based paper options. When it comes to disposable paper towels, it’s key to be more sensible and creative on their usage.
Doing so, you’ll close the loop on paper waste.