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Why I’m Not Paperless in the Kitchen

We’re talking about natural homemaking this month at the blog- “green & clean” homemaking, which of course includes eco-friendly, frugal, crunchy stuff.

Which of course includes being paperless in the kitchen. 

Or not.

I remember the first time I read about going “paperless in the kitchen” on someone’s blog. 

I was a young mom, completely starstruck with the ideas of natural living and frugal homemaking.  I was learning so much about healthy living, whole foods, and “going green” that I could hardly keep up.

Going paperless in the kitchen just made sense.

Jeremy and I were budgeting our boots off, and that included the $50 weekly grocery budget I stuck to religiously.  If I quit buying paper napkins, paper towels, paper plates, and even tin foil and Cyran wrap… think how much money we could save every month! 

So I quit.

Cold turkey, just like that.  No more paper waste.

Nada.  Zilch.

I was cloth diapering and making my own baby wipes at this time as well, so this paperless thing totally fit my world.  It was almost as if we didn’t need trash pick up any more… well, not quite.  But almost.

Lest you think I totally flew the barnyard coop, I did draw the line… with toilet paper. 

Yes, I did.

I did read about this one blog lady who quit using toilet paper and starting using washable toilet wipes.  Except, she couldn’t get her hubby on board.  I hope she didn’t wonder why.

Anyway, I drew the line with toilet paper.  But we pretty much used washable everything else… napkins, kitchen towels, and the like. 

That worked for me for a very long time.  It wasn’t so difficult to wash a few extra cloth napkins and towels every week.  I was washing cloth diapers and wipes anyway, so no big deal.

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But, after a few years, it became a big deal.  It really did. 

I had Baby #3.  Then Baby #4.  Then Baby #5.

And we moved a few times.  Several times, actually.  (In case you don’t know, I really, really hate moving.  It stresses me out.  Worse than washing cloth napkins.)

I battled some health problems and, frankly, I felt like I was drowning in a pit of things to do and expectations to keep up with. 

About four years ago, I made the life shattering decision to stop using cloth diapers and backslide switch back to disposables with our fourth child.  I say “life shattering” because it felt that way to me at the time.  Like I was committing this huge SIN by not doing all the “good” things that “healthy” and “responsible” homemakers do.

Somewhere around that same time, my cloth napkins disappeared and the plain, throwaway variety from Aldi’s started appearing on my dining room table.  I even bought a pretty, chic napkin holder to keep them in.  It was like they took up permanent residence in my home, or something.

Then those devilish paper towels had the nerve to bombard my eco-friendly kitchen.  My all natural, no junk allowed here kitchen. 


And the really bad thing?  I loved those things.  I mean, I actually enjoyed throwing them away.

It was like a contagious plague or something, because then I started using paper plates.

I still use paper plates, nearly every week day.  I use them and I like them and I don’t feel guilty.

I use them, and it doesn’t break the bank (thank you, Lord).  I use them and we take out the trash (every single day).  I use them and we don’t have to wash as many dishes on busy homeschool days.

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I still don’t buy Cyran wrap, and don’t ask me why.  But I love my paper goods from Aldi’s and, yes, I’ve encouraged other busy, tired, over zealous moms to chill out and use them too.


Because life is too short and too beautiful to get hung up on all the small stuff.

Going paperless in the kitchen is a frugal and fun thing to do, if you can swing it.  If you love it.  If it works for you.

And if you can’t swing it, and you don’t love it, and you find that it’s working you instead of working for you, pitch it.

Make a bee line for the nearest dollar store and buy a pack of paper plates or napkins, and don’t look back.  Your babies will love you just as much if you wipe their faces with cheap paper napkins that you don’t have to worry about washing or folding.

Ask me how I know. 🙂

I’d love for you to join our Natural Living online Facebook community right here!

Do you use paper plates or napkins?  What about toilet paper? 😉 

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  1. Oh my friend. I’m right there, right now! We are pretty much paperless and have been for a while. Our trash for the week is so low that we only have to put trash out every 2-3 weeks. I love that. I love not throwing things away. I have guilt issues when I think of landfills and trash floating in the oceans… Oh but then the dishes. They are getting to us! And I’m seriously thinking that paper plates, even once a week, wouldn’t be so bad.

    And your comment about feeling like you were sinning when you switched to disposables? Reminds me of how I feel like I’m a complete failure for not staying on top of gardening, or even just letting it go for a season. Totally get it!

  2. I tried to get on the paperless bandwagon. It didn’t last long. It was “work” to me with our lifestyle. To me I caculated the cost of time, water, and just convince and to me it was cheaper Nd more peaceful to big a frugal paper lover!

    1. I LOVE your comment, Chrissy! “a frugal paper lover”… I’ll take that too! 🙂

  3. A correction to my comment: 1 1/4yd. of fabric cut lengthwise yields two dish towels.

  4. I cloth diapered my babies. Not a problem.
    Still use paper towels for the occasional wipe up of the frying pan before it goes into the dishpan.

    Have found that homespun cloth from JoAnn’s Fabrics in its pretty plaids are great for making great dish drying towels. 1 1/4 yd. cut in half lengthwise makes an ample and lintless dish towel which is as absorbent and stronger then floursack towels. Just hem all the edges 1/4″.
    They are so inexpensive and come in many colors that I can have several for each season.

    Just remember to wash darker fabrics with like colors because the colors bleed for some time!


  5. I’ve never even tried to go paperless in the kitchen. Paper towels just work so great for cleaning up greasy things. I love tin foil and have a love/hate relationship with plastic wrap. Sure, I use re-usable rags for none super messy things like spills, etc. but life is too short to have to do laundry all the time.

    (visiting from the Thrifty Thursday link-up)

    1. I so agree, Julie! Thank you for following me over from Ruth’s blog, and for reading and commenting! 🙂

  6. Oh my goodness, this spoke to my heart! I am pregnant with my 4th and the thought of continuing cloth diapering is daunting. I can’t even keep up with the CDs with my 3rd! Then I think about going back to disposables, and the guilt kicks in big time! It’s like it’s going against my morals, but really, it isn’t. We’ll see what I end up doing!

    1. No guilt needed, Christina. Do what is best for your family in this season, even if that means letting go of a few things in order to serve your family better (and get more rest!). The bigger picture is all about loving and living well, not just sticking with a list of expectations.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  7. Great post, thanks for sharing! I am a firm believer in only doing the things I am the most convicted about and can manage when it comes to lifestyle changes. Sure, I would love to get rid of every single toxin in my home and my life, but I can only focus on one area at a time for the sake of my budget and sanity. So if I continue to use Windex and paper towels while I’m overhauling my diet, I think I’ll still live. You’re right- life is too short. I’m in favor of less time spent holding myself to an unattainable standard and more time enjoying the life I’ve been given, and making changes well when I’m convicted to do so.
    Enjoy those paper plates and napkins, girl!

    1. Well said, Kristen. In the past, I’ve been prone to make dramatic changes in order to “live healthier”, but it’s caught up with me… at last. Stress and frustration are red flags that maybe I’m trying to do too much. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your input, my friend!

  8. Thank you for your openness and candidness! There seems to be this great divide in which we have to pick a side- the green side… Or the “other side”, lol. It’s ok to have the best of both worlds. I use cloth napkins and kitchen rags, AND Aldi’s paper good. Love that place!

    1. I’m with you, Lindsey… I’ll take the best from both worlds, and don’t take Aldi’s away from me! 🙂 That store is such a blessing to our family.

  9. My mom seems to like to buy paper products for me and leave around my kitchen. 😉 I usually don’t buy paper products myself just because 1. I’m too cheap, 2. I’m afraid of the amount of trash we would incur (I already take out a bag or two per day) 3. I can’t tell a big difference in my dishes. 4. I’m the weirdo who was washing the plastic utensils and cups anyway. 5. I’m too cheap. (Did I say that already?)

    My husband gets really excited if I buy paper towels, but then again we Zip through those like Halloween candy or something!

    Add me to the once a cloth diaperer, no longer a cloth diaperer. I think my unstick ability with that was that I got tired of washing wet clothes along with wet diapers that were a result of ineffective cloth diapers. No guilt here. (I sure do miss seeing them strung out on my clothesline, however)

    1. I got a giggle out of the mental image of your mama leaving paper goods strewn around your kitchen, girl… now I know what to give you for your birthday! 😉

      I’m with you… I miss my cloth diapering days, but in theory only, ha! I did enjoy hanging my cloth dipes out on the line on those sunny summer days… and the crunchy feel they had after they had dried for a few hours.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Monica! xoxoxo

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