In honor of Earth Day last week we decided to go "paper towel-less". I decided to scour Etsy to see if I could find some handmade cloth paper towels that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg. BTW, if you're not familiar with Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/), you MUST check it out. It is a wonderful source for anything handmade (most of it very high quality)...and they carry antiques as well. What I really love about Etsy is that everything is sold by individuals, so you are directly supporting artists/seamstresses/collectors with no middle-man...you can even shop locally. Many of the sellers are stay-at-home-moms, and of course I love to support that "cause", since I'm one of them ;-)
Ok, so back to the napkins. I ended up finding a shop/seamstress/mom that sold handmade flannel napkins (8" x 8") for approx. $1 a napkin. She had lots of patterns to choose from. Her recommendation was to have 10 napkins per per person in the family...that was minimum, which would mean I needed at least 40. I ended up buying around 50, I think...in all kinds of patterns (fun patterns for the boys and a cute striped pattern for occasions when we have friends and family over).
She also makes/sells cloth sandwich bags and snack bags, which I also bought a few of. We already use cloth sandwich bags, but they've seen better days, so I thought I'd buy a couple more since hers were so cute and inexpensive. The sandwich bags are wonderful too....bought a few of those as well!
My total bill was around $70, including shipping. I know that sounds like a lot, but considering the money I'm going to be saving on paper towels and plastic baggies in the future, it's totally worth it. I consider it an investment that will help our pocket book AND Mother Earth.
We've been LOVING the napkins and haven't had much an urge to pull out the paper towels. We've also been using them in place of small plates to put toast, sandwich's, fruit, and whatever else on, which we often used paper towels for...because I didn't want to dirty another plate. (For cleaning the counters and stuff, we use cheap wash cloths that I buy at target...$2.99 for 8.)
Here is the website for the "gnomeclothes", where I bought my napkins: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5491749
Here is a picture of a few of the patterns I bought...we keep them in a big bowl on our kitchen table. We all have fun picking out their napkins at meal time.
So here is my challenge to you. If you are not at a point to get rid of the paper towels in your house, then at least try re-using them as much as possible and/or try to incorporate cloth rags/napkins into your lifestyle a little bit at a time. It's a lot easier than you think...and the fabric napkins are SO MUCH more fun than boring white paper towels. Don't we all need a little more cheer in our day? :-)
Love to everyone! Have a wonderful day!