One Bite at a Time Project 15: A Paperless Kitchen
As I mentioned my last post, I've really been into Tsh Oxenreider's stuff lately from SimpleMom.net. I purchased her $5 eBook , "One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler" and found tons of great minimalism/house management tips that I want to try putting into action. Project 15 is making your kitchen paperless.
This was one of the projects that stood out to me when I first read the book. Here I am, using cloth diapers for Addy, but I'm still buying gobs of paper towels. Kind of seems like I tackled one of the more difficult (or at least initially more gross) paper item first! After getting used to washing poopy diapers, the thought of washing napkins and cleaning rags kind of seems like a no brainer.
So I started by evaluating what we use paper towels for in the kitchen. The main purposes seemed to be:
1. Napkins. Every time we eat, we each grab a paper towel. Half the time I barely use it, but it's something that you want just in case you need it. We also use paper towels for napkins when guests come over, and I always wish that I had something nicer to give them anyway.
2. Wiping up general kitchen mess. Many times I grab a paper towel because I don't want to get the regular towel hanging on the stove too dirty. I like to keep the towel "clean," and only use it for drying clean things like just washed pots and hands.
3. Cleaning counters after dealing with raw meat. This is the one that I struggled with the most. The paper towel replacement would definitely have to be a one-time-use item here, and I'd have to put it someplace that equated to throwing it in the trash so it wouldn't have to be messed with again. Then there was the laundering piece of it of it too, because I didn't want rags with cleaner on them to get in with napkins that people would use on their face.
The final solution to the paperless kitchen included the following changes:
1. Buying a pack of cheap, every day napkins, $10 for 12 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (with a 20% off coupon, of course). We use these with all our meals and snacks. They can be used for our guests too, but because I don't iron them they end up looking kind of crumpled and crappy, so I haven't done that yet. I want to get some nicer ones to have at the ready when guests come over, but that is still on the to-do list.
2. Replacing my chemical cleansers with Tsh's natural versions. I am currently using the all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, which covers most of what I use, especially in the kitchen. I've been surprisingly impressed with how clean things look and feel, and there isn't an overwhelming chemical smell afterwards. The other day I cleaned the glass on the back doors with Addy a couple feet away, and it was nice not to have to worry about her breathing it in.
Ingredients for the all-purpose cleaner: baking soda, vinegar, water, and lemon oil.
3. Matt had a pack of microfiber towels that were meant to be used to wash a car, but they are perfect to use for cleaning. I've been using them with both of the cleansers to mop up wet messes, clean counter tops, windows, wipe down the table, etc.
4. Laundering all of this stuff and making it easy to deposit dirty items conveniently. I already had a small laundry basket in the kitchen area to put Addy's used bibs and washcloths in (when I got tired of running them downstairs all the time). Now that we are using natural cleaners, I can throw all of the napkins, towels, and rags in the same basket and launder them with her things. I use the heavy duty setting on my machine since a lot of these items have the potential for stains, and so far everything has come out very clean with no extra scrubbing.
It feels good to be using the natural cleaners and I'm finding that the cloth alternatives actually work much better than the paper towels anyway. So I am calling project 15 complete and a success!