Why You Should Stop Using Paper Towels Immediately

Life can certainly get messy sometimes. Whether it's a spill around the kitchen, dust and smudge marks on the walls, or pets tracking muddy pawprints through the home, there always seems to be something to clean no matter where you turn. When it comes to wiping up these daily messes, it might seem like grabbing a paper towel is the obvious choice. Not only are paper towels very absorbent, accessible, and easy to dispose of, but they are also quite inexpensive. However, this convenient cleaning material might actually be causing more harm than good.

Paper towels are not recyclable, as some people might like to think. According to Business Insider, the actual materials used in producing paper towels are much too fine to be traditionally recycled. Another factor that makes paper towels unsuitable for the blue bin is the potential for grease to get caught up in the fibers. Greasy paper towels can contaminate other paper products, in turn ruining their opportunity to be broken down and reused. 

On a positive note, chances are that the paper towels you are using at home were already produced from recycled paper, so those used paper towels might be a good candidate for your organic bin. When allowed to decompose naturally, a used paper towel takes roughly two to four weeks to break down, per Save on Energy. Even so, you're better off ditching the paper towels altogether.

Paper towels are incredibly wasteful

Although paper towels can eventually decompose when they are kept out of the recycling bin and disposed of in a proper manner, that doesn't mean that this cleaning material doesn't take up its fair share of room in your local landfill. As Cottage Care pointed out, U.S. consumers use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels on a yearly basis. This is a staggering amount of waste that could be easily avoided.

In order to cut down on the use of paper towels and do your part in limiting waste, there are many alternatives to using paper towels around the home. For example, instead of tearing off a paper towel to clean your mirrors or windows, you could simply use a piece of newspaper, which offers a streak-free finish. When you're done, you can just toss it straight into the recycling bin. 

HuffPost suggests that instead of cleaning up leaks and spills with non-reusable paper towels, you can try switching to cloth, bamboo, or other washable materials. Also, microfiber cloths are a good way to keep your electronics and shelves dust-free while biodegradable beeswax paper is the ideal choice to wrap up your food items. At the dinner table, try replacing your paper towels or disposable paper napkins with linen napkins, which can be easily washed and reused. By incorporating these helpful alternatives, you can dramatically reduce the waste associated with paper towel use.