*This article was written 22.11.01, please excuse any information that is no longer applicable.
I’ve decided to make these goal recap posts an annual thing as well. I think it’s important to hold myself accountable to the goals I set for myself, and one of the ways I’m able to do that, is by announcing them here on the website, and then making follow-up posts.
Now, usually, I don’t like shouting my goals or future aspirations from the rooftops – if you’ve been on following this website/my posts for a while, you’ll know this – but I’m trying to change that, at least for my zero waste goals, because I think it may be helpful to any of you readers to see how the zero waste journey goes.
It’s not always a straight line to changing your lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!
As cliché as it sounds, you only get one life, and it’s worth it to put in the effort to live the way you want. Not the way your parents, friends or even your partner want. It’s your life.
Before I get too far off topic, let me circle back to the point of this post: did I reach my 2022 zero waste goals?
If you missed 2022’s post, I said my goals for last year were to stop using or reduce my overall use of paper towels. I’m happy to report, I did it!
As said in the last post, I noticed my main consumption (is consumption the right word even though I’m not eating them?) of paper towels was when I needed to cut something up, or to use instead of a plate.
While I have managed to re-train myself and just use a cutting board or plate, I was/am still using paper towels for their main purpose: as a napkin. And I know, there are cloth napkins I could use, or even just get up and wash my hands/face after every meal. As I said above, changing your lifestyle is more of a marathon than a sprint. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Like veganism, you can choose to focus on changing one area, before moving on to changing another. And yes, technically using paper towels could be considered one area, but since I was using them for different reasons, I counted them as two.
So while I’m happy to report my consumption of paper towels has gone down, I haven’t completely eliminated them from my life. And truthfully, I don’t think I’ll ever eliminate them entirely. The trade off to using a paper towel as a napkin is to use a reusable cloth one, which sounds like a better zero waste option up front: it’s made of cloth, you use it multiple times and wash, instead of using it once and then throwing away.
While that sounds great, you’re really just exchanging one problem for another. Sure, you use a cloth napkin multiple times, but you have to wash it, which means you use more water than if you were to just use a paper towel.
I’m not trying to make excuses at all, just show you guys that even the ‘better’ options still have their… let’s call them complications. No matter what option you pick, you’re still potentially harming the planet, or not doing as much good as you think. Keep this in mind when also shopping for reusable substitutes – if you’re attempting to ship something new from overseas, that’s actually less environmentally friendly of an option than if you were to just continue using the plastic version of whatever the item is.
That said, I am going to continue attempting to lessen my use of paper towels, and am definitely interested in exploring reusable napkins. While I attempt to work my way toward 100% paper towel-less living, I will also continue to explore more sustainable options. As mentioned in last year’s post, Who Gives a Crap offers what they call Forest Friendly paper towels (which actually aren’t made out of paper at all) and while I was excited to try them, before I had a chance, they unfortunately had to stop selling their products in Canada. Their website says this is temporary, and they’re hoping to be back ‘soon’, but it’s been a few months* now and they still haven’t returned.
While waiting for my favourite brand to come back to Canada, I may have to explore other toilet paper alternatives, as well as explore other paper towel options. One thing I read said that as long as a paper towel didn’t have meat juice and/or cooked sauces on it, it could be put in a compost pile or backyard dirt instead of the garbage.
I’ll obviously have to continue to research that to learn all the ins and outs to ensure I’m doing it correctly and not just… littering while calling it being environmentally friendly.
Aside from continuing to reduce my paper towel consumption, I’m also going to focus on reducing my use of notebooks/notepads. As a writer, I use a lot of notebooks, notepads and random scraps of paper to write story ideas, character concepts, etc.
While I do mostly use my laptop, sometimes I don’t always have it with me, so instead I reach for a paper and pen. Other creatives will relate to the ‘I have to write this down right now before I forget’ moments. For those who aren’t, it’s sort of hard to explain. But, being a writer is definitely not an excuse for me to continue to use paper all the time!
I’m honestly not sure what options there are for reducing my notebook consumption, aside from using my laptop and phone notepad instead, but I’m very excited to learn!
If you have any suggestions of what I can use instead of a notebook for writing, or if you have any zero waste goals you’re hoping to achieve this year, let me know in the comments!
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