Tag Archives: Sustainable Living

How long does it take for …


True story: aluminum goes from your recycling bin to being back on the store shelf in 60 days, limiting the need for (and environmental damage from) mining new materials.  Information from:  RecycleBank

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15 Simple Steps for Going Green in 2015 . . . Step 2


Did you make a resolution to go greener in 2015?  Maybe you made a resolution to save a little green in 2015?  Whether you did or didn’t maybe now is a good time to make a few and simple changes, follow this 15 part series for my favorite list of 15 to kick off the New Mid-Year (or anytime of the year) Greener You.  Read on for Step 2.

2.  Replace your Paper Napkins Habit…

cotton napkins

Why Ditch the Paper Napkins?  Just like paper towels they are so handy and convenient, but did you know paper napkins (even the recycled ones) are hefty contributors to global warming, deforestation and water pollution – although there is a lot of debate about this statement, I fully believe that this is true.  Digging around for some facts about paper napkins consumption and the environment are hard to find, but I was able to ferret out the following few (um,, one).  So I am going to refer you to Step 1. Ditch your Paper Towel Habit for similar information.

I think it is important to note that all napkins (and paper towels) use energy and resources and produce pollution and waste, during manufacturing, transportation, packaging, use and disposal.  There is also a wide variety of materials for napkins (paper or cloth), sizes and weight which will impact how much energy and water is used through out their life cycle from “cradle to grave”.   So it is really hard to compare apples to pineapples in this case.

  • “During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.”
  • According to Natural Resources Defense Council “the paper and pulp industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any industry in the world.”
  • Triple Pundit  on this website is where a guy actually went through and did some calculations comparing the energy use, water use, and carbon footprint of both paper and cotton napkins.  I don’t agree with all his findings, but I do offer this for your reference.

How to Replace your Paper Napkins Habit… Truth be told we rarely used them growing up, so I have never been a big fan.  Again, my son and I don’t use them unless we are out and about dining out.  For our lunches for work or at school we take our cloth napkins.  If you can’t make them from fabric remnants,  invest in some quality hemp, linen or organic cotton napkins (check out etsy) and never look back!  The typical life span of your cloth napkins might be about 6-8 years but since I use them to clean with long after that I also save money by not buying paper towels.

For the purpose of this article I am going to use same washing and drying costs as our cleaning cloths, though I normally just throw them in with our normal laundry and don’t do a separate load.  Since we haven’t bought or made new napkins in ages, I am going to defer to Etsy and go with a similar set of cloth napkins made from organic cotton (a better choice is Linen, Flax or Hemp or even grab some at a thrift store or garage sale) .  Also I am going to use Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins, 300 Count (#1 Best Seller on Amazon in Paper Napkins) the calculations are based on 2 people using 6 napkins per day for an average of 30 days or 180 napkins per month.

vanity fair2Paper Towels Set of 4 Organic White Napkins by SmartkinCloth Napkins
Brand Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins, 300 Count 2 Sets of 4 Organic White Napkins by Smartkin (on Etsy)
Initial Cost $4.74 – 300 count of white 13” x 12.75” white 2 ply or $0.02 each $30.00 ($2.50 per month over 12 months but they could last a whole lot longer!)
Monthly Cost $7.20 (2 people using 1 napkin per meal per day for 30 days.) $3.26 ($2.50 plus $0.76 washing / drying / detergent cost)
Annual Cost $86.40 $39.12
Net Annual Savings if purchasing napkins $47.28
Net Annual Savings if you already have them $77.28

Sources

  1. Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
  2. The Guardian
  3. The Paperless Project
  4. UCSB Science Line
  5. Natural Resources Defense Council
  6. Triple Pundit  this website is where a guy actually went through and did some calculations comparing the energy use, water use, and carbon footprint of both paper and cotton napkins.

Question: So which will it be for your family . . . paper or cloth napkins? Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.

15 Simple Steps for Going Green in 2015 . . . Step 1


Wow, it’s June already…time to start making those New Year’s resolutions….  I know, I know you are saying wait, wait Amanda, are you crazy it’s June!

Well truth be told I normally wait until the beginning of summer to make my new year resolutions. Why?  It gives me time to think and plan outside of the holiday chaos and madness that ensues from October through beginning of January.  In June, things are warmer and moving a little slower (at least in the south), my son is out of school and it just makes perfect sense to me and works for us.

So, the question is . . . did you make a resolution to go greener in 2015?  Maybe you made a resolution to save a little green in 2015?  Whether you did or didn’t maybe now is a good time to make a few and simple changes, follow this 15 part series for my favorite list of 15 to kick off the New Mid-Year (or anytime of the year) Greener You.

  1. Ditch the Paper Towels:

Why Ditch the Paper Towels?  They are so handy and convenient, but did you know paper towels (even the recycled ones) are hefty contributors to global warming, deforestation and water pollutionSome facts about paper towels and napkins consumption and the environment are.

  • Paper towels have the highest environmental toll over the seven most common drying methods in public toilets – generating 70% more carbon emissions1
  • Consumers typically perceive recycled paper towels to be better for the environment. But in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) report’s researchers found that the environmental impact of recycled towels equals that of virgin paper towels in a number of environmental measures, including CO2 emissions and water consumption.1
  • To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed.2
  • Decomposing paper towels produce methane gas, a leading cause of global warming.2
  • In 2006 over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste made up over 2% municipal landfill waste.

Replace your Paper Towels Habit… My son and I haven’t purchased paper towels in over five (5) years.  We use rags from old T-shirts, worn out towels and facecloths.  What does it cost us?  About 70 – 76 cents per month for washing (warm water),
drying (gas dryer as our subdivision doesn’t allow us to hang clothes outside) and detergent (we make our own) which comes to a whopping $9.12 per year.  How did I figure this out?  Why Mr. Electricity of course!  Here is a quick comparison to paper towels, I picked Bounty at Amazon, (cost $29.89 with prime membership (free shipping) and a $2.00 coupon which covers the tax) for 12 count of white select a size with 210 sheets per roll so that is 2.49 per roll or 1.4 cents per sheet)  If you use only one roll per week (most families I surveyed in my neighborhood go through several rolls but use varies from household to household). That is $11.84 per month!  So what does that look like over the course of the year?  Let’s see.vs2

Paper Towels Rags
Brand Bounty at Amazon,12 count of white select a size with 210 sheets per roll old T-shirts, towels and facecloths
Initial Cost $29.89 12 count of white select a size with 210 sheets per roll Free
Monthly Cost $9.96 (1 roll per week) .70 to .76 cents to wash, dry and detergent
Annual Cost $119.52 $9.12
Net Annual Savings $110.42

Sources:

Rag Image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Question: What do you use in place of paper towels? Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.