4.22.2009

My One Thing

not paper towels, but un-necessary paper products nonetheless (photo via roland bello)

I've made some pretty big strides in my effort to tread more lightly on the earth... I can't remember the last time I accepted a bag at the store (despite the checkers that look at me like I'm a mad woman as I'm stuffing 10 cans of soup into my purse -- I have a really big purse), and the spending hiatus completely changed my thinking in terms of mindful spending, disposable purchases and unnecessary packaging -- During the three months we weren't buying non-essentials, our garbage output decreased dramatically, a side-effect that was welcome, but honestly unexpected.

But in honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd bite the bullet and make a big commitment... one that's really hard, one that I've been avoiding. Ok here goes, this morning I used my last paper towel ever... That's the plan at least. And while it sounds small, if you knew how messy my girlies are, how obsessed I am with wiping down every surface in my line of sight, and how giddy I get over a fresh, new, bright white roll of paper towels ready to be busted into, then you'd surely realize that for me this step is HUGE.

So...let's all play. Suffer with me please. What's your one thing in honor of Earth Day?

44 comments:

Jen said...

My one thing: no more soda. Even though I recycled the cans...well it still was leaving a big print on the earth and myself.

Smiling Mama said...

I stopped using paper towels and paper napkins earlier this year and am loving it! It really wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. Good luck!!!

Audrey said...

I'm with Jen. No more soda.

I quit using paper products in the kitchen too -- love getting out our lovely cloth napkins (cotton ones feel SO GOOD once they've gotten worn in a little, so soft!) and setting them on the table. It changes the mood of the entire meal.

One of the things I'm really going to work on more this summer is line-drying our clothes and running the dryer much, much less.

hellosweetworld said...

Thanks for helping the Earth. I love people who help out, even if it is a little thing. Because if a million people do one little thing, that turns into a lot!

For me, i'm going to try to walk to the store and use a tote instead of plastic bags. I keep forgetting to take one each time i go.....

Kelly said...

that's awesome, joslyn!!

my earth day resolution is to start my compost heap this summer. oh, and to lose 10 lbs so i can stop weighing down mother earth so much! :)

xo
kelly

Jen said...

Hey we did that too! We haven't bought a roll of paper towels so far in 2009! It took some getting used to, and there are still some random things that need to be wiped up that I'll use toilet paper for just because I can't take it :) Good for you!

onesilentwinter said...

Happy earthday! i can relate to stuffing things in your purse- it is amazing what i can get into mine.!

MemeGRL said...

Hey, that's huge. Not to be Debbie Downer but we had done that until my sis-in-law had cancer and we were all instructed to go back to paper to cut down on infection. Now crisis is over but the paper towels stayed. Maybe I'll try that route again.
But it's so nice to see other Earth Day resolutions. Mine is to start composting again, as I was a compost dropout. I can't figure out why it's so hard for me to just let stuff rot correctly, but it is.
Happy Earth Day!

Rachel said...

I gave up paper towels a few months ago (kind of on accident). And starting today, we're giving up paper napkins as well. Yay for Earth Day!

LobotoME said...

I just put up a clothes line... going to give up the dryer!

j :)

Virginia said...

All right, I'm inspired. I've been putting it off. I'm going to start using real napkins.

eek.

iheartkiwi said...

i've started using the recycled paper towels and toilet paper! it's fairly inexpensive at fresh and easy...

but giving up paper towels completely! that is amazing. kudos!

Callie Grayson said...

I too stopped using paper towels.

my step is for this year....
i really look at packaging, the less packaging the better.
One way I have made myself aware of what I purchase is ....I take recycling out once a month to get an idea of how much paper and plastic I (one person in my house) produce.
I then evaluated what I was buying that was causing so much waste. I now really pay attention the details: Are the crackers/cookies wrapped in plastic and placed inside a box?

callie

Kristin said...

Good luck! I hardly ever use paper towels anymore. I have specific dish cloths & towels set aside for clean-ups depending on the task - toilets, counters, floors, etc. So far so good!

I have to think about what I'm going to do in honor of E day.

Sarah said...

This year I'm giving up all household cleaners that aren't earth friendly. I'd like to hear how your paper towel thing goes. Still haven't made it there.

Ani said...

thank you starting this discussion.
my resolution is to start a compost heap. i was going to say 'today' but i guess it does take a little bit of planning (where to put it, how to start it off right so there are no critters or odors). but putting it out there in the open means i need to follow through.

180|360 said...

The one thing I'd like to do is grow more of my own food. I have had a lot of luck with herbs, citrus and tomatoes, but I'd really like to amp it up and grow more -even in my challenging, desert environment.

Julia said...

Bravo, you! That's pretty impressive! With my joining the student ranks again, we're going to be using our car less and less and taking advantage of the free bus on campus :) WHOOHOO!

erin said...

you can do it joslyn! it's been about two years since james and i stopped using paper towels and we're still going strong. i'm on a search for a prettier little bucket to keep my dirty rags in...we let them pile up for a week of so, and then wash them all in a little load together with plenty of borax!

my little thing this earth day is to commit to not eat meat or fish if i don't where it is coming from. james and i are really careful about this at home, but i've been known to let myself order fried chicken from a restaurant without knowing a thing about its life before my plate! no more!

happy earth day!

Lucia said...

Hear hear on no more grocery bags! I will try and stop. And since you are going paper towel-less, get a load of Williams-Sonoma bar mops --little square towels that you won't mind staining with all manner of life's little messes, and they are super absorbent to boot. They are wonderful and just the same size as the old paper towel sheet.

Haley said...

I will ride my bike and walk as much as possible with my husband. Better for the environment, the marriage and for our health!

lynne said...

What a great goal! And good job with the bag thing!! I am pretty good but sometimes I forget those damn bags in my trunk.

We're going to try really hard to grow our own produce this summer in our kitchen garden. If we don't kill them all!

Joslyn said...

erin -- you're my hero!

lucia -- good tip, i'll pick up bar towels this weekend...thanks!

lynne -- what all are you guys growing, we're toying with growing a few things...hmm.

Miss Aimee said...

what about TP Jos, giving up that too?! ha! LOL. xoxo. good luck, I could never do that with my 3 or your kids over and our 5---can't get rid of the paper towels(not me). ummmm....earth day...hmmm... I will think about this and tell you friday.

east side bride said...

We've been using cloth napkins since we made a kajillion for our wedding. But you have inspired me to think on what to give up next. Maybe ziploc bags. I *love* ziplocs, but washable tupperware would work just as well in most cases. Sigh.

EliseBlaha said...

I spent much of the morning getting off catalog lists. In the past, I have been the girl with the purse full of soup, but I ordered a bunch of re-useable bags this morning. I would love to start using cloth napkins.

Carson.J.Designs said...

I do the same thing at the store! If i happen to swing by the store on the way home and dont have a reusable bag with me I just use my huge ginormous old navy tote (unfortunately it is on its last leg). Everyone looks at me like im nutso!!

HeddyShea said...

I'm a big time shower / bath taker! I love to linger in the shower... it's an escape! I am going to cut back my shower time to a get in and get out time frame... I also have a habit of letting the water run too long to warm up- going to stop that too!

XO
SimplyHeddyShea

Emily said...

We only use compostable cutlery at school now and no longer provide cups at staff meetings. We have also put two large industrial composts in the school and started garden. Starting this year we even put all of the hall lights on a timer so that they are off during class time when people in theory aren't wandering the halls.

paula said...

Paper towels, now that is big! I would like to remember to bring my tote everywhere not only the grocery store.

gretchen said...

we cut down on shower time and shampoo far less often, turns out our hair doesn't need the frequent washing we were led to believe growing up. only needs washing all the time if you use hair styling products, which we have also stopped using. we use rubbing alcohol and crystals for deodorant. we use reusable bags at the grocery. we turn all the lights off when we aren't in the room (harder than you might think with kids). we never drink soda. water is our favorite drink. better for us and the planet. (unfortunately due to a health issue, we still use paper towels as they are more sanitary when mrsa is lurking around, it breeds in damp fabrics so they are not allowed to sit around for even two seconds). we also use distilled white vinegar as a weed killer and keep ants away with organic kitchen cleaner grapefruit spray. totally works. no pesticides on our lawn either. its all the little things, we hope they add up!

Joslyn said...

gretchen -- you are seriously inspiring!

Joslyn said...

east side bride -- i gave up ziplocks for my new year's resolution...i thought it was going to be a nightmare...i love me some ziplocks, but it's been totally easy. i bought a bunch of tupperware and reusable glass containers and i'm golden.
i've got your back girl!

rikshaw design said...

i think i will try and do the same...arggrr its going to be hard, since i just found a thick plain white brand i love!

Sabina said...

That is wonderful - great post!!

:)

Melissa van Herksen said...

I am ashamed to admit it but I used to be the queen of paper towels. Growing up I think we used to go through about a roll a day at my house. Well now I am a grown-up and living in Mozambique where paper towel is very expensive and not always stocked at the store. Without even thinking about it we stopped using it. It was much easier than I thought to cut out of our household diet. Now with a toddler we do wash our dish towels a lot more. The one thing I still haven't been able to get rid of are baby wipes.

jae said...

Paper towels is a tough one. We try to be pretty green in our house (always room for improvement), but paper towels is the one thing that I've been reluctant to give up. The husband even has a natural cleaning company and he doesn't use them, so I think you've inspired me to give it a shot. It has to be just a matter of getting used to, right?

v a n e s s a said...

This is great! I'm a big paper towel addict also. I need to make the commitment to kick that habit!

And I love what you said about mindful spending... I am guilty of throwing far to much away.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Cher said...

I tried giving up paper towels and couldnt make it stick but my one consolation is that we can compost them here. Seattle's compost and recycle bins are as big as our trash cans, and those two bins are always bursting while our trash can is maybe half full. We can compost paper napkins and paper towels if they have organic material on them. I use rags for chemicals so I can always compost them.

My resolution is to slowly replace all chemicals with either home remedies or natural cleaners. I'm just trading them out as I use up all the nasty stuff. We also just got 4 chickens as a measure of knowing where our food comes from. I'm buy less meat but the meat I buy is organic. I'm shelling out a bit more but since it's precious I use it sparingly and enjoy it more.

Yay for you. I know you can get rid of PT!

eLiZaBeTh said...

In order to do this, you must make some kitchen towels from Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing...they are super easy to make, a good way to use up old fabrics, totally customizable and they definitely cheer you up when you use them. Yea! Good for you!!

Annie Empiric said...

I hope its going well! My Mum was a chef/restaurant owner and raised us in a house void of paper towels. We had dozens of white cotton rags that we went through each week. Luckily Ikea now sells the same ones (they have the red stripes on them...) so I'm keeping it alive.

There is something awesome about a fresh P.T. though isn't there...?

Amanda said...

I'm slowly phasing out some of my old bath/beauty products- as I run out of them, I'm trying to find more eco-friendly substitutes. Well that, and trying to cut back on the number of products I use in the first place. First on the chopping block has been hair products, and it's been rough. But once I find all the products I like that are natural, I think I'll be happier.

I use paper towels but not many. I prefer plain white rags that I pick up at dollar stores or ones that I make out of old run-down clothes (torn up tee shirt = perfect washrag).

Now if I could only remember to take the reusable bags to the store with me when I go...

~Amanda

MODsquad said...

If I could just kick my addiction to Swiffer I could totally do paper towels! 1300 sq ft. of ebony stained hardwood and two little girlies... not a good combo! I'm considering joining SA... Swiffers Anonymous.

Joslyn said...

MODsquad -- i'm with you...i have a swiffer "issue" as well. let me know if you ever kick them, but honestly they are completely genius.