Go on, throw the towel in!

Go on, throw the towel in!

Don't you feel like throwing the towel in from time to time? For me, that saying is my daily reality. I chuck a pile of tea towels in the washing pile everyday. It's not that I am an excessive dish drier, it's that in our household tea towels are our kitchen paper.

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Throwing the tea towel in

Our eco-journey has been spanning many years, during which we have chosen how we can reduce our waste and minimise contribution to landfill. Kitchen paper came up as an item to review, early on in the process. With lots of little grubby feet stampeding around our home, we get a lot of spills, stains and bodily fluids to clean up everyday. There was one particular fateful day, when 2 of our small people had gastric flu. I used up 2 rolls of kitchen paper within half an hour and had run out of supplies. I raided the linen cupboard and sat said yellowed-children on the sofa and surrounded them, the sofa and the floor with towels. The next 24 hours was a steady rotation of puke, towel in washing machine, replace with towel, puke, repeat. This is a pretty disgusting way of describing that after that moment, I never went back to kitchen towels.


Recycled kitchen towels are made from recycled paper that has reached the end of the line. Each time paper is recycled, its fibres shorten which in-turn reduces its strength as a material. By the time is has been made into a kitchen towel, there is no useful life in it. In fact, if you throw used kitchen paper in recycling you run the risk of contaminating a recycling batch. Grease from food or bacteria from bodily waste cannot always be broken down during the paper recycling process. Which means it will appear as deposits in the final paper pulp and render it unusable.

It can compost but needs a commercial composter. Sadly there are few facilities in the UK that can usefully dispose of kitchen paper waste. So once it has been used in the home, it goes in the bin and into landfill. Where it degrades and releases methane. In addition you have to consider the energy resources needed to produce the kitchen towel in the first place (one tonne of virgin kitchen paper uses 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water). Plus the packaging that the towel is wrapped in when sold, which is typically plastic.

Tea towels are a great alternative to kitchen paper. A tea towel can last you a lifetime. Even better if you buy second-hand tea towels. They are also much more effective at collecting spills and can be used with force to address stains. When they start to become threadbare, you can cut them into smaller pieces to be used as dusters.

I am now proud to throw the towel in everyday. I encourage you to do the same!

Thank you for your time!

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