‘Our grandparents didn’t have them either’

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Photo Credit: @brennan.kai / TikTok

A TikToker’s modest video highlighting readily available alternatives to paper towels has been viewed more than 400,000 times. And when you realize how many paper towels get thrown away each year, it’s easy to see why the video has gotten so much attention.

Americans bought almost half of all the paper towels sold in the entire world in 2017, which sent a whopping 3.8 million tons of paper waste to landfills. 

On one hand, this represents a worrying amount of unnecessary waste. But it also presents the problem as a cultural one, which means individual people can create a positive impact with simple lifestyle changes.

This viral suggestion from Brennan Kai (@brennan.kai) is a great jumping-off point to doing just that.

“Sometimes people ask how I haven’t needed paper towels the past five years— here’s my answer!” she captioned her video. “Our grandparents didn’t have them either.”

@brennan.kai sometimes people ask how I haven’t needed paper towels the past five years— here’s my answer! Our grandparents didn’t have them either 🤍 #sustainable #lowwaste #sustainability #ecofriendly #plasticfree #zerowaste #ecohome #papertowels #zerowasteliving #zerowasteswaps #reusable #reusables #environmentalist #environmentalism ♬ Cloudy – Ponder & Slip.stream

In her video, Kai gets right to the point. 

“I haven’t bought paper towels in five years,” she says. “Use any rag or washcloth, and you can even cut up t-shirts if you don’t want to buy anything new.”

She also spotlights reusable paper towel replacements and her personal favorite: Swedish dishcloths, which are biodegradable and dishwasher safe. For her other rags and dishcloths, they get thrown into a box, and then the washing machine, to be used again and again.

“Love the Swedish dishcloths,” comments one TikToker.

Another says, “It’s crazy how doing something so simple like this blows people’s minds such a simple switch. Highly recommend.”

These paper towel alternatives are not only seamless to integrate, but they could also cost you as little as zero dollars and zero cents — if you have any old fabric or shirt lying around. 

And they have more benefits than just keeping dirty paper towels out of a landfill. As paper products degrade, they create air-polluting methane gas, which hastens the overheating of our planet.

If you’re worried about spreading germs (or cross-contamination) with reusable rags and dishcloths, just make sure to clean them frequently.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.


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