Temerity Jane just wrote a 150,000 word post on paper towels and how she won't buy them and has instead bought unpaper towels. In case you don't have the kind of time it takes to read 150,000 words on paper towels*, let me recap it for you here: Kelly doesn't like to spend money on things like paper towels which are used only once. She tried to use dishcloths, but they did not fulfill her paper towel needs. So she bought some handmade "unpaper towels" which are basically a specialized dishcloth that have the right thickness to stand in for a paper towel. There, Kelly. That only took 55 words.
Now I am ALL FOR the end of paper towel purchases. I am fully on board. I stopped buying them myself, under the premise that if I don’t have them, I can’t use them. I have found that dishcloths and dish towels do work pretty well for our paper towel needs, but I have to admit I am intrigued by this unpaper towel product and may buy some to try out.
But all that being said, there is a time and a place for paper towels, and that place is your kitchen and the time is immediately after an entire glass quart full of milk is dropped on the floor and shatters.
You see, we buy our milk in glass quarts from the local dairy. We do this because I like to support local businesses, and because I like reusing things whenever possible, and because the purchasing of reusable glass bottles of local milk gives me a pleasant smug feeling. There are two major downsides to this system. First, the glass bottles only come in quarts, so a week’s worth of milk takes up an inordinate amount of space in our refrigerator. Second, when a glass quart of milk is dropped on the floor, you get milky shard of glass everywhere. Just everywhere.
The first time this happened, I had recently climbed on the “no paper towels” train, so I grabbed a bunch of dish towels – including the pack of brand new dish towels that I had purchased that very day because when your kitchen is covered in spreading puddle of glassy milk you grab whatever is most handy- to sop up the milk. And it worked fabulously. The towels were absorbent enough to get all the milk and thick enough to protect my hands from the glass splinters.
But then I had a pile of milk-soaked towels, studded with shards of glass. “I’ll just put these in the washing machine immediately so they don’t fill the kitchen with the smell of sour milk,” I thought, and dropped them in. “I’m sure the washing machine will also get all the glass out.”
Did you spot the flaw in this plan? The good news is that I also spotted the flaw just as my hand was about to press the start button, and I did not run a bunch of broken glass through my washing machine. So that’s something. So then I decided to dump the glassy towels on the porch to dry in the sun with the plan of shaking the glass off the towels once everything was dry.
Did you find the second flaw? But fortunately, a few days later my brain clicked on mere moments before I shook a million glass splinters all over the porch my kids sometimes walk on barefoot. Unfortunately, that left me with a pile of glass-splintery, sour-milk dish towels - three of which were brand new – and no idea what to do with them.
I threw them out. Much like I would have thrown out paper towels, but far more expensively and probably with a bigger environmental impact.
So now I try to keep at least one roll of paper towels around. For milk emergencies.
*You should though, because Kelly’s version is much, much funnier.