I was amazed the other day watching a commercial claim that, ‘cloth dishcloths only push messes around, one needs a paper towel to truly clean up a mess.’ Are you kidding me? This might be true if the dish cloth were dry, or soaked, but if it was wet with hot soapy water and wrung out, the paper towel wouldn’t stand up. Your dishcloth can be rinsed or thrown in the washing machine hundreds of times, while the paper towels are a single use item. For the goopy messes one would not like to use their dishcloths on, there are always rags, the remnants of the old t-shirts, dish cloths, towels, sweats, safely stored in the place where cotton goes to die. These rags have been used so much, that should you get something on them that is not washable, they can happily go to the landfill where they will fully break down in a relatively short period.
One might claim that paper napkins are necessary. I heartily disagree. A beautiful, cloth napkin is a better alternative. Not only is it eco friendly, but much gentler on your skin when you’re using them, and they don’t rip and stick to you if you happen to be having some very sticky wings or ribs. A certain amount of style and class is also attached to the use of cloth napkins over products at your table.
Another commercial claims that your hand towel is very dirty, and one must have disposable towels in the bathroom for drying hands. Again, haven’t they heard of a washing machine? The world certainly does not need any more disposable items. The use of all these paper products is not sustainable in the long term. The production of all these paper products require a great many natural resources and purchasing them on a regular basis, definitely adds to the expense for a family over a year!
Then there are the wipes, which don’t only use paper but also use chemicals and encase their products in plastic. Do we really need more chemicals and plastics in our homes and environment?!? The great marketing machines are once again preying on our fears. They have us convinced that to keep our home and children safe we need to kill all of the bacteria in the world. Not true. We live symbiotically with many thousands of bacteria. Many are necessary for our survival. Some governments are beginning ad campaigns to discourage the overuse of antibacterial product.
The CDC has published an article from Stuart B. Levy of
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA beginning with:
“The recent entry of products containing antibacterial agents into healthy households has escalated from a few dozen products in the mid-1990s to more than 700 today. Antibacterial products were developed and have been successfully used to prevent transmission of disease-causing microorganisms among patients, particularly in hospitals. They are now being added to products used in healthy households, even though an added health benefit has not been demonstrated. Scientists are concerned that the antibacterial agents will select bacteria resistant to them and cross-resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, if they alter a person’s microflora, they may negatively affect the normal maturation of the T helper cell response of the immune system to commensal flora antigens; this change could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children. As with antibiotics, prudent use of these products is urged. Their designated purpose is to protect vulnerable patients.”
To summarize the above, too much use of antibacterial products is NOT a good thing. Once again, this is all before considering the economic and environmental costs of the products themselves.
So many paper products like paper towels can be replaced with long lasting alternatives. While it may be difficult to eliminate all of the products you use on a daily basis, minimizing the use and transitioning to more eco friendly alternatives is definitely a great place to start. Even a little bit of change makes a big difference for our world, our children’s world.
shouldn’t be a hard choice.