“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” is the old adage we have all heard related to sustainability, and over the last ten years, people and brands have been producing products designed to put the phrase into practice. Reusable Paper Towels are a prime example of a product intended to do just that, with several styles and types available. Marley’s Monsters is the home of the UNpaper® Towel, our version of a Reusable Paper Towel, designed to reduce waste, cut costs, and also fit your unique personality and style. We are often met with a wide range of questions about the efficiency, use, and actual environmental impact that UNpaper® Towels have. So today, we are going to dive into a few of these questions to show that UNpaper® Towels are an important personal and eco-friendly investment.
How are Reusable Paper Towels better?
- Reduce paper and water waste
- A one time investment that saves money and the environment
- Designed for long term use
- Significantly reduce deforestation and emissions
- Become more absorbent than a traditional paper towel
- Extremely versatile and can be used for a multitude of purposes
- Fun prints to make sustainability personalized
- Can be used multiple times before being washed
- Does not require nearly as much space to store
- Considerably reduce environmental impact on wildlife habitats and ecosystems
- Much softer on skin, hands, and noses
- Handmade by a talented team of sewists in Eugene, Oregon
Do Reusable Paper Towels really work?
The short answer is, yes, UNpaper® Towels do work well. Our UNpaper® Towels are the perfect thickness to replace a traditional paper towel, and approximately 10” x 12”. They are made from 100% Cotton Flannel, and become more absorbent, gain texture, and cling to themselves more easily with every wash. Our UNpaper® Towels are designed to last for years with proper care, and get better with age.
Since we do not prewash any of our fabrics, UNpaper® Towels are slightly hydrophobic at first and are at their least absorbent. However, cotton flannel becomes thicker, fluffier, and more absorbent after a few washes. After the first few laundry cycles, UNpaper® Towels will hold more liquid than a traditional paper towel. They can also be rinsed and reused dozens of times before you add them to the wash. Ultimately, UNpaper® Towel absorbency will increase dramatically over time. Additionally, as a natural product, cotton is completely biodegradable, which means that it will break down when put into a composting pile or bin, significantly reducing their environmental impact. Simply remove the thread, place in your home composting bin, and watch it biodegrade. You can also pull the thread out of your compost heap if you opt to not remove it first.
Can you put Reusable Paper Towels in the washing machine?
Just like most other fabrics, you can absolutely put UNpaper® Towels in the washing machine. Our UNpaper® Towels are the perfect thickness to act most like a paper towel and maximize space in your laundry loads. However, we do have a few suggestions for best laundering practices to extend the life of your reusables. For the fluffiest UNpaper® Towels and quicker absorption, it is optimal to tumble dry on a warm setting to fluff the UNpaper® Towels. As they are made from 100% cotton flannel, the warm dryer will cause the fibers to shrink slightly, making the towel a little thicker, the surface fuzzier, and exceedingly more absorbent.
We have also found that fabric softener and dryer sheets can hinder the UNpaper® Towels’ absorbency. Consider making the swap to wool dryer balls, which are safer for UNpaper® Towels and the environment. As well, the cotton flannel will behave like other fabrics when exposed to harsh chemicals. So, we suggest avoiding things like chlorine bleach, and rinsing them well right after use to extend their life. Stains are easy to prevent by holding under cold running water to remove any pigmented messes before they settle into the fibers. You can also spot treat oily/greasy messes with a little dish soap, and rinse with cold water before adding them to the wash. Some customers select prints or solids based on the messes they know they'll be cleaning up to hide stains or blemishes more easily.
Are Reusable Paper Towels better for the environment?
This is a great question, and one that we get quite frequently at Marley’s Monsters. In order to understand how UNpaper® Towels are more eco friendly, it helps to put some other facts into perspective. Traditional paper towels are specifically designed to be a single use item, meaning we have become accustomed to habitually buying our trash. According to data collected from Statista based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), the majority of U.S. households, a whopping 111.4 million people, use an average of 6 paper towel rolls per month. Do you know how much paper waste that creates? Let us tell you.
According to the Paperless Project, in the U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year, and that number is steadily increasing. This means that every single day more than 3,000 tons of paper towels are wasted in the U.S. alone. Let’s put that into perspective. 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is about seventeen-and-a-half times as heavy as a house, about thirty times heavier than a Blue Whale, and about 300 times heavier than a Tyrannosaurus rex! That is a significant amount of waste produced from just one single use product—waste that inevitably ends up in landfills, waterways, and ecosystems.
Not only does single use paper waste create environmental problems, it directly contributes to deforestation, as it requires an astounding 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to produce one ton (roughly 2,000 rolls) of paper towels. The Paperless Project also shows that if every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year. That number is equivalent to about 5% of the tree population in the state of Oregon!
How much money am I really saving?
Now that we have a better understanding of the environmental impact that traditional paper towels have, it makes the adage “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” seem all the more imperative. However, purchasing paper towels has an impact on your wallet too. Let’s break down the math. If the average household uses 6 rolls of paper towels a month (1.5 rolls a week), this averages to 72 rolls of paper towels purchased per year. With the average cost of an 8-roll pack of towels being roughly $20 (taken from Walmart), then the average household spends upwards of $180 a year, or $900 in 5 years, just in buying an item designed to be thrown away! In comparison, one 24 pack of UNpaper® Towels can easily replace that 1.5 rolls of paper towels per week for the average household. With an initial investment of $58 for a 24-pack of UNpaper® Towels, the only additional cost you’ll have for the next 5 years is an occasional extra load of laundry (See below on how much). This means that one purchase of a 24 pack of UNpaper® Towels can save approximately $100 in the first year, or $800 in 5 years!
How much laundry should I expect?
A 24-pack of UNpaper® Towels takes up space in your washing machine equivalent to a men’s long-sleeved, midweight flannel button up shirt, which means UNpaper® Towels do not add a ton of extra bulk to laundry day, and a 24-pack of UNpaper® Towels should easily fit within your regular load cycle. Although the ultimate reusable family may have an extra load of laundry on occasion, it’s generally minimal.
So, are UNpaper® Towels better for the environment?
As mentioned previously, cotton is a natural product and is completely biodegradable, which means that it will break down when put into a composting pile or bin, significantly reducing its environmental impact through emissions. American’s produce about 7.4 billion pounds of waste that go to landfills in paper towels alone. If we all take the challenge to eliminate single-use paper with an alternative, reusable cloth product, like UNpaper® Towels, the planet will be in a better shape than where we started. #ThinkReusable, we still have time to change our future.
How To Reduce Your Paper Towel Use. The Paperless Project RSS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://web.archive.org/web/20171129013914/http://www.thepaperlessproject.com/how-to-reduce-your-paper-towel-use/
Published by Statista Research Department, & 23, J. (2022, June 23). U.S.: Quantity of paper towels used 2020. Statista. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/275731/us-households-amount-of-paper-towels-used-within-30-days/
Schwartz, C. (2017, January 25). The Dirty Details [and facts] on Paper Towels and Sponges. CottageCare. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://cottagecare.com/blog/dirty-details-facts-paper-towels-sponges/