Why Americans Are so Obsessed With Paper Towels

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If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that Americans are totally obsessed with our paper products – a fact we should have already known, given that we produce more unrecyclable trash (per person) than any developed country in the world.

And paper towels? Americans spend around $5.7 billion annually on them, and most people view them as a necessity, not a luxury.

We use them to clean spills, windows, hands, and everything in between. The next closest country, consumption of disposable towels-wise, is France – and they spend less than a 10th of what Americans do every year.

Why do we prefer paper towels the the more economic washable ones, though, and where did our obsession start?

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Atlantic’s Joe Pinkser thinks that it could be due to how Americans tend to problem-solve. A paper towel allows us to immediately address a mess and then dispose of it without a trace – and without a need to take that extra step of cleaning our cleaning supplies.

Other possible contributors include being able to throw away the towel and avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen, and for hygienic reasons, such as in public bathrooms, where they are more sanitary than air dryers.

One thing you can do if you recognize the problem, but don’t want to give up your habit, is to reuse your towels that haven’t touched raw meat. You can use most of them a half dozen times before they rip.

You can also fold one in half to make it sturdier, or invest in reusable and recyclable bamboo towels, which can take the place of 6 months worth of your regular towels (saving you some cash, too).

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Back with another eco switch for you guys! Toilet paper isn’t the only thing people are running out of in these crazy times, but paper towel as well! How can we ensure we’re not stuck and panicked when we unravel the last piece of paper towel from the roll? Well..by chucking it altogether!👋🏽 . You’ve seen me mentioned Swedish dish cloths (or reusable paper towel) often on here, and for good reason! These reusable, compostable cloths are the best thing for us because: ✔️They replace up to 17 ROLLS of paper towel (that’s a lot and would definitely see us through this quarantine) and can absorb 15x their weight in liquid💧 . ✔️They’re made from plant cellulose fibres so they are naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal, unlike J-cloths or regular cleaning cloths that begin to get stinky real fast🦠 . ✔️They last up to 6 months! (No joke, I’ve had mine for SO long and it doesn’t stink and works perfectly)♾ . ✔️They’re 100% compostable and biodegradable as they are made from plants, for a truly zero-waste solution🌿 . ✔️Unlike wasteful paper towel that is made from precious trees and then bleached with toxins, these guys are safe, earth-friendly and way cuter. They also are shipped plastic-free, unlike paper towel that is wrapped in plastic packaging📦 . We love the brand @ten_and_co for their super cute designs and commitment to sustainability (even their mailers are compostable). In these uncertain times, eliminate one more finite resource from your home and shopping list (paper towel) so that you can save money and resources!🛒 . ALSO, this helps support a small business, which is exactly what we NEED to be doing right now, rather than buying in bulk from places like Costco or Amazon🛍 . One more thing – I recently shared a post on why we should consider switching from toilet paper to bidets in a time like this, and guess what? Bidet sales are SKYROCKETING! The planet is sending us a message loud and clear right now, and I’m loving seeing how we’re responding. Let’s turn the tables on wasteful paper towel and make sponge cloths the next trend to take off!🎉 . Have you ever used a reusable sponge cloth? Let me know!👇🏽 . #forageandsustain

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The bottom line is that we’re lazy, we don’t want to think too hard about food contamination, and we think they’re more sanitary.

If you want to address the problem, though, know that more sustainable (and cheaper) solutions to all of these issues (except the laziness) are out there if you want to seek them out!