3 Great Alternatives to Paper Towels

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Eco Home, Sustainable Bathroom, Sustainable Kitchen

Eliminating our paper towel usage was one of the sustainability goals I had for my family in January 2023. To my surprise, we not only made it through the month without using any paper towels, but I also didn’t miss using them. I realized then that we don’t need to buy any moving forward! (I regretfully admit that we were using a copious every month).

As with any product, it is a good idea to do your own research to make sure what you are using is, in fact, sustainable.

There are several credible sources where you can find information about product sustainability, which include:

You can also check the websites of companies that manufacture paper towels for sustainability reports or other information on their environmental impact.

Paper Towel Alternatives

Several alternatives to paper towels can be used in place of disposable paper products. Some popular options include the following:

Bamboo Towels

These are my favorite choice! Bamboo is made from sustainable bamboo fibers, which are highly absorbent. They can be washed and reused like cloth towels and last a long time.

Environmental benefits of bamboo towels over paper towels include:

  • Bamboo is sustainable. It is a renewable resource because it is a fast-growing grass that does not require replanting.
  • Bamboo requires less water to make. It requires less water and pesticides to grow than traditional tree-based paper products, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
  • Bamboo is a strong and durable material, and bamboo towels are long-lasting.
  • Bamboo is a carbon-negative material, which means that it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it produces during the growing process.

Unpaper Towels

These are similar to cloth towels but are often made from materials like flannel or hemp and have snaps to hold them together. Benifits include:

  • Unpaper towels are washable and can be reused multiple times, reducing the need for disposable paper towels.
  • Unpaper towels are sustainable, typically made from natural, sustainable materials such as cotton or bamboo, which are renewable and biodegradable.
  • Unpaper towels are cost-effective and can be used multiple times before needing to be replaced.
  • Unpaper towels are used in various settings, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and for cleaning, and come in different forms, such as dishcloths, napkins, and hand towels.
  • You can make unpaper towels yourself! Many prefer to make their own unpaper towels using cotton or flannel and sew them together.

Reusable Cloth Towels

These can be made from various materials, such as cotton, terry cloth, or microfiber, and can be washed and reused multiple times. You can also make your own reusable cloth towels using old cotton or flannel clothes. 

The benifits of reusable cloth towels include many of the same as bamboo and unpaper towels, including cost-effectiveness, usability in various places around the house, and sustainability.

How We Completely Eliminated Paper Towels in Our House

Bamboo towels are 100% the way to go here! We made it through January without using a single paper towel. And the best part is that it wasn’t that difficult, and my kitchen and dishes are just as clean as ever. 

This is exactly how we did it:

  • Bought a batch of bamboo towels
  • Left one bamboo towel hanging next to the sink for hand drying
  • Left a stack of bamboo towels on the other side for dish drying
  • Left a few under the sink for wiping counters

We would rinse and hang them to dry and then swap them out every few days for washing.

If you try going to try going sans paper towels, let us know how it goes. Good luck!

Additional recommended reading: