It's really not as hard as you might imagine. And just think: You don't have to find somewhere to install a paper towel holder. We've got some tips, plus a few questions for you, below...
Apartment Therapy has touched on this before, writing about a paper towel-less life and giving ten alternatives for paper towels.
We eliminated them from our kitchen gradually, almost without noticing. It was like we had a roll that just stuck around and stuck around... until we realized we'd had it for several months and still hadn't used it up. And we weren't buying recycled paper towels, either (ew, too flimsy). We were buying thick, plush Viva towels. So cutting them out felt like a small victory in greening our home.
Here are some top uses for paper towels and some alternative ideas:
• Napkins. We can't tell you how many people we know still fold up a paper towel as a napkin. Buy some cloth napkins! Hey, buy some cheap hand towels from IKEA and use them as napkins! You don't have to wash them every time you use them, in case you fear laundry. And they are so much more pleasant to use.
• Wiping down the counters. Sometimes paper towels just seemed more sanitary than a sponge for cleaning counters or a glass surface. But you know what? We got over it. We use these long-lasting sponges for everything- the counters, the fridge, the stove top... everything. A washable microfiber cloth is also a great thing to have on hand for wiping down surfaces or cleaning up spills.
• Wrapping herbs. We frequently wrapped our herbs in a damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag to keep them fresh. But a cloth towel works just as well. Or, store them in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the top.
• Patting dry raw chicken or other meat. This is a tough one. If you need to pat down a chicken, you probably want to toss that towel. We're torn. We have used a dish cloth and then immediately thrown it in the washing machine, but that's not always feasible. You may not have a washing machine in your apartment, in which case you've got a chicken-juiced towel in your laundry hamper. There's always the option of blow-drying your chicken. Or simply allowing it to dry out, uncovered, in the fridge for a while. Anyone else have some tips?
• Draining bacon. Here's another without a clear solution. It's nice to have a soft bed of paper towels for absorbing grease when you fry something, whether it's bacon, sausage, or potatoes. Depending on how often you fry, you could keep some paper towels on hand for just this purpose. Another option would be to place the bacon on a cookie/baking rack over a sheet pan. Most of the grease will drip down.
Those are a few of the major kitchen uses we thought of. What others do you have? How are you using fewer paper towels in your kitchen?
Related: Gallery: 9 Cool Lunch Boxes and Bags
(Image: Flickr member Seth Tisue, licensed for use under Creative Commons)