Happy Earth Day! I thought today was the perfect day to tell you about my family’s transition to a paperless kitchen. Over the years, I’ve been on a slow journey towards a greener lifestyle. Certain things were easy, like ditching plastic water bottles, because not only was that a good choice for the Earth, but I also had a vested interest in my family’s health.
Eliminating paper in my kitchen seemed much more daunting. Paper towels and napkins have become so ingrained in our society as the standard, and reaching for them was second nature, making the task of getting rid of them overwhelming. Even though I knew it was a greener, less wasteful choice to get rid of paper products in my kitchen, I wasn’t sure I was ready to let go of the convenience factor.
Well, I’m here to tell you my fears were unfounded. Going paperless is so much easier than I anticipated! These are the steps I’ve taken to transition to a paperless kitchen. If we can do it, so can you!
1. Set a timeline for going paperless.
When I decided once and for all I wanted to go paperless in our kitchen, I set a timeline in my head. I had large amounts of paper napkins and paper towels, but said that once they were gone we’d be completely paperless. I used that time when those products were running out to make the transition, so it wasn’t a cold turkey kind of thing. We started by using cloth napkins for dinner only, and would use the paper napkins other times of the day when we needed a napkin. I tried putting the roll of paper towel in a less convenient place so I wasn’t so used to grabbing a paper towel for every little thing. For us, a slow transition was key.
2. Stock up on enough cloths to replace napkins and paper towels.
You want to make sure you have enough cloths that you aren’t doing laundry everyday. I’m not doing more laundry than I was before. I just throw the cloths in with the rest of the towels I’m washing anyway. We have 20+ cloth napkins on hand. I didn’t buy them all at once. Some are from way back when we got married and registered for them and a whole bunch are random napkins I’ve picked up over the years for my pictures for this blog. We don’t care that they don’t all match, in fact I kind of love that they don’t. You can pick up cloth napkins whenever you see them on sale to start your collection. Great stores to get for great prices, especially if you find sales, are Target, Homegoods, Pier 1, and World Market.
You also want to have cloths for all the things you would normally use paper towels for: dish drying, hand drying, food drying, and wiping spills.
3. Have all your cloths in a convenient place.
Our cloth napkins are in a basket on our dining table. In my eyes, it looks fine for everyday use. If we are entertaining, it’s easy enough to put away and replace with a nice centerpiece.
I got two cookie jars and put them by the sink, within arm’s reach. In one are the cloths designated for drying food, and in the other are the cloths designated for wiping up spills. Having these in a convenient place is key. You don’t want this process to be less convenient than using paper products.
The two other types of cloths we have are for hand drying and dish drying. Those are kept on separate sides in a drawer by our sink. One hand drying cloth is kept on the dishwasher handle, used for drying clean hands, and is replaced each day. The dish-drying towels are kept in the drawer until needed.
4. Have a laundry bin close by.
The next part of this process if having a place to put the used cloths. Just like throwing away paper products in the trash was easy, this needs to be easy, too. We keep a metal bin in the pantry. You could use the space under your sink or on the edge of your counter. It just needs to be close so that it’s easy to throw the used cloths in there. The key to success is have a convenient system in place! I clean the kitchen cloths about two times per week, and just throw them in with the other towels I’m already washing.
5. Get who you live with on board.
Whether it’s your spouse, your kids, your roommate, or all of the above, going paperless in your kitchen will be a much smoother process if you have everyone on the same page. I’ll admit that Tim rolled his eyes at me a bit during this process. When he saw the cookie jars with rolled up cloths he asked, “What, are we opening a spa?!” You’ve got to love a husband with a sense of humor. In the end, he was on board because I had a system in place to keep the convenience level the same as with paper products. I know I keep saying that, but only because it’s so important!
This process has been a lot easier than I ever imagined it would be. Once you have a system in place, you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was necessary to waste so much paper on a daily basis. Make the transition to a paperless kitchen and you’ll save money and not lose any convenience.
Helpful Products for a Paperless Kitchen
You can purchase products from my affiliate links to help get your kitchen ready to go paperless! Thank you for supporting Happy Healthy Mama and my mission.
I got my wire basket that I hold my napkins in at Target. Click here to shop wire baskets and find the perfect napkin storage for your kitchen!]
Glass storage jars like these make a pretty display for white cloths.
Stock up on white cloths so you’ll have plenty between loads of laundry.
Find some cute and colorful napkins that you’ll love displaying in your kitchen.
Edited to add: It’s been almost two years now since we went paperless in our kitchen and it’s still going well! I love our paperless kitchen and hope I’ve inspired you to take the plunge, too.