Tag Archives: paper towels

2021 Zero Waste Goal Recap (+2022 Goals)

This article was written 21.12.05, please excuse any joke/reference that’s no longer applicable.


Happy new year!

How was everyone’s holiday break? Good? Bad? Stressfully filled with no (or very few) zero waste options?

Don’t worry if you ‘slipped up’ this past holiday season – that part of the year is literally designed to be thrown away. Think about it: plastic decorations, wrapping paper, gift bags, cards – everything that makes it ‘festive’ is basically just fancy trash!

You don’t have to beat yourself up if you used a festive napkin at a get-together or couldn’t resist buying a plastic decoration. These things happen. The important thing to remember is that the Earth doesn’t need everyone doing zero waste perfectly, it needs everyone doing it imperfectly.

As long as you’re trying to do better, you’re already ahead.

Speaking of trying to do better, at the beginning of last year, I made this post, which outlined my zero waste goals for 2021. And I thought, since I went to the trouble of making a post telling you what my goals were, it would be kind of dumb if I didn’t make a follow up post to let you know whether or not I actually reached them.

To recap, in the post I made last year, I said the main thing I wanted to try and stop using was paper towels, and then zip lock bags, if I managed to stop using paper towels.

I’d like to report that I accomplished removing these things from my life, and I can now move on…but if I did that, I’d 100% be lying!

I didn’t stop using paper towels, and I definitely still use Ziploc bags. Instead, I decided to test out a more eco-friendly toilet paper, and, I’m happy to report, I’ve been using it exclusively since trialling it last year!

I mentioned it in passing in the goals post for last year, that chopping down a 40 year old tree for something you use 1 time and then throw out is crazy – which it is – and the more research I did into toilet paper, the more I felt compelled to change that first.

Since I wanted to change things in order of the most wasteful, so that my changes would have the biggest impact, changing toilet paper actually should’ve been the first thing I changed.

As I was researching paper towels, I stumbled across a stat that blew my mind: 27,000 trees are cut down per day for toilet paper. Per day!

That’s an insane amount of trees being cut down for something people definitely don’t use more than once. Similar to when I went vegan, once I knew, I couldn’t un-know, and I definitely didn’t want to be contributing to that stat anymore, so, I started researching alternatives.

Now, there are varying degrees of alternatives to paper toilet paper – for instance, there are bidets, which are pretty widely known, but thinking about the future, since the bidet is something that has to use water, and attach to your toilet, I decided that wouldn’t be the right option for me. (I’m planning on converting a bus into a tiny house on wheels, and using a dry [composting] toilet – there will actually be an article coming out later this year explaining this in more depth)

Then I found a more… let’s call it ‘unique’ alternative called Family Cloth. This one… well, it probably is the most eco-friendly, since it involves taking what would otherwise be trash and reusing it, but, it also seems the most gross and labour-intensive.

For those of you who don’t know, Family Cloth is pieces of clothing (usually old t-shirts/sweaters/flannel) that have been cut into squares, for you to use like toilet paper. After using, you put the soiled cloth into a bucket of water (or, it might be some sort of water/vinegar cleaning solution) and then you wash the cloth using a washing machine.

While it might not be as gross as I’ve built it up in my mind to be (I’m assuming it might be like reusable period pads – there was a time when I thought I would never use them, and now I use them exclusively), Family Cloth is just something I don’t think I could do, at least for the time being.

That’s why I was over-the-moon excited when I discovered a brand called Who Gives a Crap. They sell toilet paper (and a few other products) that is more eco friendly than conventional toilet paper. They have two kinds available, a bamboo, or a recycled paper version. You’ll be getting a full review of them later this year (March), so I won’t go into too many details, but I ended up trying (and loving) their bamboo paper, so I decided to switch to them once I got my order.

And, I’m happy to report, it wasn’t actually that hard! The difference is very minimal, and I’ve actually gotten used to the texture difference, and don’t even really notice it now. As stated above, this is the only toilet paper I use now, so it was a great switch for me to make.

So, while I didn’t technically reach my zero waste goals for last year, I ended up changing a bigger, and arguably, more important aspect of my life. Which leads me to: my 2022 zero waste goals!

I think I’ll stick with last year’s goals of trying to remove paper towels and, possibly, plastic zip-lock bags. Who Gives a Crap has some Forest Friendly paper towels (they’re made out of bamboo and sugarcane), so I’ll check those out, while I also try to cut back on my over-all use of paper towels. Just because they aren’t made out of trees doesn’t mean I should feel complacent with still producing garbage!

Since I was actively thinking and observing my paper towel use last year, I realized the reason I use them the most is to cut up food or use them instead of a plate. Which is dumb, because I should just be using a cutting board, instead. Or, y’know, a plate!

I don’t even know when it happened, but at some point, grabbing a paper towel just became ‘faster’ than grabbing a cutting board or a plate. Which is actually bullshit, because it literally takes the same amount of effort to grab a paper towel as it does to grab a cutting board or plate.

Do you have any zero waste goals for this year? Let me know in the comments below!


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Zero Waste Goals for 2021

This article was written 20.12.18, please excuse any reference to COVID that no longer applies.


Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a good holiday, despite not being able to see relatives in person. (Thank God for the internet, am I right?)

To kick off the new year, I thought I’d start with what zero waste goals I hope to achieve by the end of this year. I can’t remember if I made a post about it yet, but last year my main goal was to switch from disposable to reusable menstrual pads, and I’m happy to say, I succeeded!

It actually wasn’t as hard or gross as I originally thought, and if I haven’t posted it already, I promise I will make a dedicated post talking all about that transition.

Since I felt like that was my most wasteful thing, I was struggling to find what else would be a goal that would make a big (ish) difference by the end of the year. Then it finally hit me: I use a lot of paper towels. I’m kind of surprised I never noticed before, but I guess since I hadn’t really thought about it/it was just a ‘normal’ thing I did, I didn’t really pay much attention to it. And this is why we have a problem!

With that in mind, my next main goal for this year is to stop using paper towels. That seems like a crazy thing to say, but when you think about it, chopping down a tree that took years to grow just to be used in a product we only use 1 time? That’s crazy! (Same thoughts I’m having about toilet paper, but I think I’ll do better if I focus on changing 1 thing at a time, instead of trying to change everything all at once, so toilet paper switching will have to wait)

Since I started doing some research into zero waste living, I’ve discovered there are bamboo paper towels. These are better for the planet because bamboo re-grows a lot faster than trees do, so it’s not as devastating as (for example) cutting down a 40 year old tree, and then having to wait another 40 years for it to re-grow. Bamboo is a type of grass, so it grows a lot faster, which is great! Though switching to bamboo would still be producing waste, I’m just thinking of using them as a transition while I figure out what else I can use.

It sounds dumb, but it never occurred to me that most things I use paper towels for (wiping up spills) I can just use a sponge or a towel for. I’ve also seen reusable paper towels as well. Those look like they are just wash clothes snapped together into a roll, so I may actually attempt to make some homemade reusable paper towels, if it turns out that actually is all they are. I’ll of course continue to keep researching, so I can make the best decision possible, but right now reusable paper towels are looking like a great option. Not only will they eliminate the single use paper towels I use, but because they can be washed, I can throw them in with the reusable pads (which I’ve actually been feeling bad about, because I’ve had to wash them by themselves and while I set the machine to do a Small load, I still feel like it’s a ‘waste’)

If I begin succeeding with the paper towels, my next main thing I’d like to switch to reusable is Ziploc bags. I use them also a lot more than I originally thought. Since COVID started, I did start washing and re-using them, which is good, because I’m not using them as single use plastic. However, since my end goal is to be as zero waste as possible, I’d like to switch them to reusable silicone bags, or to use jars or something else to replace them.

Zero waste isn’t about going out and buying all new reusable stuff, and while I think it’s great and helpful there are a lot of reusable alternatives out there now, I don’t think it’s practical for someone to dish out all this money to buy reusables and then just throw out all the plastic stuff they own. When I say I’m going to transition, I literally mean it. I will use the plastic bags and paper towels I have left (which admittedly isn’t very many at this point – which I think is one of the few good things to come out of 2020) and then will start to look to things I already have before deciding to go out and buy new reusable things.

So there you go. My 2 big zero waste goals for 2021 is to reduce/stop using paper towels made out of trees, and to stop/reduce use of Ziploc bags.

Do you have any zero waste goals you’d like to achieve? Do you have any tips or tricks on how to transition away from using paper towels or Ziploc bags? Let me know in the comments!


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