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What is the impact of paper towels on the environment?

Did you know?

Americans use an estimated 13 billion pounds (6,500,000 tons) of paper towels per year?

It takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to make only 1 ton of paper towels +chemicals!

The chemicals used to manufacture paper are toxic, for water and human.

The use of paper has risen by 400% in 40 years

Every year 254 million tons of trash are produced from discarded rolls around the globe

51,000 trees per day are needed to replace the number of rolls that are put in the trash every day

$4.1 million landfill dumping fees could be saved if every household in the USA used 3 less rolls per year

The Story

It began in 1907, in Philadelphia, a teacher wanted to stop the spread of a cold in her classroom, she felt germs were spread by using the same cloth towel used for drying hands, so she gave her students a piece of paper that will be thrown away. In 1931, paper towels were introduced for kitchen use…

Another story says that paper towels were produced by a paper company who wanted to improve their technique in papermaking, which resulted in a paper towel product.

Why do we use paper towel?

At home, we use paper towels for wiping spill water, cleaning the counter, soaking up grease from food, drying hands, covering food in microwave, cleaning fruits, as napkins, or food wrap, as a toilet paper, facial tissue… we use it at the restaurant, café, markets, businesses…

It is made of and wrapped in plastic, it is used once, for 15 seconds, then thrown away

It is not recyclable because it is used to clean dirt and wet items.

What simple alternatives do we have?

  • Shake your hands and let it air dry when there are no towels

  • Reusable and washable towels for kitchen, picnic, and lunch boxes

  • Dishcloths are super absorbent and clean up the whole house

  • Food wraps are great alternative for food storage and wrapping

How do you use paper towels at home? what action can you make today to reduce your consumption and make a difference in the world?


Hi there!

I am Aline, a creative French-native mom of 3. Also, Artist, eco-educator, and owner of Out Of The Box Eco-Store.

Many of us want to reduce our plastic waste and live more sustainably, but don’t know where to start. My low waste living and Refillery store supports eco-living and reduce plastic waste by offering refillable home and personal care products.

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