A few good rags,
A few good rags in a basket = alternative to paper towels. Photo © Liesl Clark
a washing machine,
2-3 weeks-worth of cloth rags in line for laundering = sustainable replacement for paper towels. Photo © Liesl Clark
and an empty drawer
“Wiping Towel Drawer,” under the counter, right next to the dinner table, ready for wipe-ups. Photo © Liesl Clark
are all it took to convert my family from paper towels to cloth towels.
Rosie would be proud of these cloth towels. They’re definitely “the quicker picker upper” vs. Bounty, her paper equivalent.
And there’s another reason to skip paper towels altogether: Bisphenol A, a chemical linked with cancer among other things. Sadly, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology, our recycled paper products are now laced with this endocrine disruptor because thermal receipts that have high amounts of BPA have been recycled into most of our post-consumer paper products. Therefore, recycled content paper towels, newspapers, business cards, printer paper, even toilet paper have BPA and BPS in them. Returning to virgin pulp paper products might the healthier route to take! But the environmental impact of using virgin paper (a.k.a. loss of trees and the dioxins released in the atmosphere during the process of bleaching conventional toilet paper), according to the Huffington Post, far outweighs the small amounts of BPS found in our recycled paper toilet paper.
Oh, and BPA has also been detected in our currency.
Hazardous waste? Photo © Liesl Clark
I think this whole situation might be the perfect example of a bass ackwards trash backwards absolutely hazardous mess only humans can create. Somehow, we’ve managed to contaminate our own paper recycling streams with such toxic chemicals that post-consumer recycled paper itself is no longer a green option. Strategists say that if we stop recycling our thermal receipts or any recycled paper that has BPA in it, we may return to BPA-free papers. The problem is that according to some estimates, 8 million tons of BPA are produced each year and it’s been detected on every beach ever tested for the chemical.
The dilemma appears to fit perfectly with Urban Dictionary‘s definition of bass ackwards:
Ass backwards. The state of doing (or having done) something the wrong way.
No no dude, you’ve got the cables plugged in all bass ackwards.
Before we recycle our papers into new papers and disseminate them all over the planet, into our gray water (in the case of toilet paper) and onto our countertops (paper towels) let’s find out what’s in them and exclude the papers that have toxic chemicals in them.
The bad guys: Thermal receipts have more BPA (that transfers into your skin upon contact) than any other paper, can, or plastic. Photo © Liesl Clark
What can you do to help prevent BPA and its alternative BPS from spreading further into our watersheds? Stop buying paper towels, refuse receipts at stores, and don’t put them in your compost, your recycling, or even in your fireplace. Seems the toxic culprits need to be collected and bagged up so their chemicals can never leach into our groundwater. Think male frogs with female genitalia and you’ll get the picture. I’m considering taking the ones I collect to our household hazardous waste facility.
Now, what to do with those paper towel holders? We use ours in a closet to hold rolls of string and masking, duct, electrical tape.