Why should your family quit using papertowels

No matter how you slice it, recycled paper towels are still a disposable product with a short-use lifespan.
The biggest problem with recycled paper towels, in my opinion, is that they’re a ‘feel-good’ product. Basically, they give people the illusion of taking a great green step, when in reality, a much more sustainable step is to go paper towel free.
Almost all paper towels are manufactured with chlorine, a known toxin which also releases extremely carcinogenic dioxins into the environment. In fact, in 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) labeled dioxin “the most potent carcinogen ever tested in laboratory animals.”
Paper towels are terribly difficult to recycle and in spite of paper being touted as biodegradable, paper often doesn’t even break down in the landfill.
One simple change in the kitchen can make a big difference in reducing waste and saving money: switching to entirely to cloth instead of paper.
This is one easy change that I resisted for a long time but wish I had made the switch much earlier. I think the idea of removing paper products in the kitchen is much more daunting than it actually is to switch.

These are the 3 main reason to switch or avoid them

1. Save trees and resources
Deforestation is one of the biggest challenges we have regarding the preservation of our environment and resources.  Producing paper also requires twice as much energy as it does to manufacture a plastic bag. If one ton of paper is recycled, it saves approximately 26,500 liters of water, 17 trees, and about 682.5 gallons of oil.

2. Reduce pollution
Today, 50 percent of business-produced waste consists of paper. Approximately 25 percent of waste in landfills and 33 percent of municipal waste is paper.
Paper and pulp are the third biggest pollution sources for water, air, and soil. During the production of paper, toxic materials from the chlorine-based bleaches are released into the soil, air, and water. As for paper rotting in landfills, it emits methane gas that is known to be 25 times more toxic to life forms than carbon dioxide.

3. Save money
The average cost for 15 rolls of recycled paper towels is around 56 dollars. Over the course of 2-3 years, you could easily use up to 480 rolls of recycled paper towels for an approximate cost of 950 dollars.

If you’re just switching to a paper-free kitchen, setting up a good system for using cloth greatly simplifies things. I have cloth napkins, microfiber cloths and towels in easily accessible places around the kitchen so that even the kids can use them. I also have a place where used towels go so they can be washed.

Styrofoam Bans passing all over the USA

San Francisco passed a ban on the sale of Styrofoam. Starting in 2017, Styrofoam cups, plates, coolers, and those little squishy popcorn pieces in packages will be no more. 

In the United States and Canada, the word styrofoam incorrectly refers to expanded (not extruded) polystyrene foam, such as disposable coffee cups, coolers, or cushioning material in packaging, which is typically white and is made of expanded polystyrene beads.

Polystyrene is a type of plastic manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals. It usually comes in two forms:
  • Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), which is the stuff that’s made into cups, plates, take-out food containers, and packing materials; and
  • Solid polystyrene, which gets turned into plastic utensils, CD cases, etc.

The bill’s sponsors argued that such foam products, which are not biodegradable, pollute waterways and can harm animal life. That’s because Styrofoam causes one of environmental nightmares. Instead of decomposing, it breaks apart into tiny pieces that end up floating around. 

This ban could encourage a lot of other big cities to ditch the white cups as well. They touted the ban as an example of the city’s leadership on environmental issues.

Here’s a list of cities in the USA that have completely or partially banned Styrofoam.

  1. Freeport, Maine
  2. Los Angeles County
  3. Miami Beach, FL
  4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  5. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  6. New York City
  7. Portland, Maine
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. San Francisco, California
  10. Seattle, Washington
  11. Takoma Park, MD
  12. Washington DC
Do you think is time to push more of these bans in other countries?

5 Tips for Being a more Sustainable Consumer

You can be more eco-friendly in your everyday life by consuming less, supporting companies that are sustainable and buy ethical products. The change to live more sustainably can be done little by little and in the long term you can make a great impact.

First do your research, you can check for sustainable business around you on the net, or asking around. There are several consumer guides and websites which advertise and rate companies and products according to their ethical and environmental records.

1. Buy Local
Consider shopping from local producers and manufacturers and bolster the economy in your community.  Ask questions and do research into how items are produced. Local items likely have a smaller carbon footprint because they haven’t traveled long distances to get to your community. Support local farmers, always.

2. Focus on Quality
Think about foregoing the two-for-one special or prices that seem too good to be true. Poor quality items need to be constantly replaced, so they become part of the landfill fodder that cost us more in the long run. Instead, consider buying quality products that last so you save money and help the environment too.

3. Check Certifications
There are a number of certifications which provide indications that the products you are buying are eco-friendly.
The Fair Trade seal indicates that items meet the internationally agreed social, environmental and economic Fairtrade Standards.
FSC Certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that are evaluated to meet FSC's strict environmental and social standards.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification mark on your seafood means you are buying responsibly caught fish. Look for the blue MSC label on sustainable fish and seafood in shops and restaurants
EnergyStar is the simple choice for energy efficiency.

4. Vintage is back!
There are always treasures to find in thrift stores and yard sales. When you purchase second-hand items, you prevent them from ending up in the landfill while also avoiding the environmental impact of manufacturing something new.

5. Engage
You may not only follow these tips, but also talk about them and share your experiences. Join environmental groups or sign petitions to the government. Many consumers are also engaging with their favorite brands to see what steps they are taking to be more environmentally friendly.