Five Green Acres Mary Jo + Andrew Borchardt fivegreenacres@gmail.com Poynette, WI
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Not Paper towels

Not Paper towels
November 4, 2009 Mary Jo

Here’s a little something I’ve been meaning to share for awhile.

I wanted to see if we could go without buying paper towels.  I got tired of buying them, or more specifically, dreaded going to the great, big, bustling Mega Grocery Store that is at the exact opposite end of the Shopping Experience spectrum from my idyllic, shiny-happy, smells-good food coop where I do all my other shopping.   And I got tired of feeling guilty for using giant pieces for little things and feeling like I was wasting them.  For better or worse,  there is some kind of Eco Red-Alert system that lives deep within my brain, and most activities using paper towels set it off with a quickness. I got tired of deactivating it, so when we ran out of paper towels, I decided to see what would happen if I just didn’t buy more.  Well, that didn’t work.  There were still messes too gross to tackle with the dishcloth-that-touches-the-things-we-eat-off-of; the dogs were still making all kinds of disgusting messes on the floor. (Hey – who wants to buy two sweet pugs?  Step right up.)

So I made the logical mental leap that a person using cloth diaper wipes several times a day, who’s also looking to stop using paper towels is bound to make:  cloth not-paper towels.  Easy-breezy.  I pulled out the towering stack of flannel receiving blankets, assessed that our baby was plenty well received and indeed too big for them, and cut them into what I deemed was the ideal size.  I then took that even-more-towering stack of squares straight to my serger, flipped on the switch, and squealed with delight as I serged the edges.  Here was yet another project to file away in the “THIS is why I needed to buy that fancy, newer, threads-itself-with-elfin-magic serger” category.  (All the money I save from not buying paper towels will practically pay for the serger…..yeah, not really. But practically….no, not even close.)

The nifty hanging bucket was made in a frenzy of bucket-making that coincided with the purchase of Maya*Made’s Bucket Pattern.  That great graphic fabric was some table linen I thrifted years ago and was too timid to use, for fear of not making something good enough with it.  (Glad I got over that.)  A note about the bucket pattern:  I sew a lot.  I’ve made a lot of bags, containers, etc. Hell, I’ve even designed my own diaper bag, so I could have certainly figured out how to make it myself without the pattern.  But I had a hunch that she had the process and the pattern perfected, with all the bugs worked out, and I guessed that I could even learn a better way to construct a bag like that.  And boy, was I right – what a great pattern.  It’s concise, well-written and approaches the construction with a way better method than I had envisioned as I pre-sewed it in my head.  This is a good lesson for a sewer who’s often tempted to figure it out herself.  Did I mention that I’ve made a bunch of these?  And I have many more to go; I may have even redesigned the layout of my studio to house a whole shelf full of these buckets.  But that’s a story for another day, for some time in the future after I excavate my sewing work table and dust off the pattern.

And the Not-Paper cloths?  A tremendous success.  There are enough of them to keep the bucket always partially full, while the dirties circulate in the wash.  And because it’s always just a few here, there, they fit nicely into the nooks and crannies of the existing laundry loads, not really creating more to wash. This makes my Eco Red Alert system happy.  As for the really gross stuff – I use other rags, from tshirts and what-not, to wipe up those, and dedicate a small load for them alone.  And for the really, really disgusting, too-disgusting-for-my-washing-machine dog messes?  I’ve found that there are enough paper napkins saved from to-go restaurant meals or drive-through ice cream cones to take care of those.

Potential eco disaster averted….for now.

 

 

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