Cooking is a great hobby. Not only does it lead to good food, but it helps to relieve stress as well. As much as we’d hate to admit it, however, it can lead to messy kitchens. From grease to water, there’s bound to be something on top of your stove and worktops. After all, spills can be inevitable—even when you’re being careful.
To combat this, most of us have dishcloths in the kitchen. Highly versatile, they can be used to wipe a variety of surfaces, including dishes. Similarly, paper towels are often used to clean countertops and soak up spills. If anything, they are even more convenient to use than dishcloths. For one thing, you just toss them into the trash when you’re done—there’s no rinsing or washing involved. Given that, you also don’t have to worry about the buildup of bacteria. However, there is a high price to pay for their convenience.
As you might be aware, paper towels are not the best choice when it comes to sustainability. At the end of the day, they’re made from trees that would have otherwise benefited the environment. How? By releasing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, and providing wildlife with shelters.
Environmental Impact of Paper Towels
Since their invention in the early 1900s, paper towels have become a household staple. Aside from the kitchen, they’re often found in the bathroom, where they’re used to dry various surfaces, including our hands. Considering this, it’s not surprising to know that billions of pounds of paper towels are used every year in the United States. Curious to know the numbers? Believe it or not, but 13 billion pounds are used on a yearly basis; this is equivalent to 80 rolls per person, per year.
As you can imagine, it takes a lot of resources to produce that much paper. For starters, it would require well over 100 million trees; billions of gallons of water would also be needed for the production process. Once they’re manufactured, the paper towels also have to be delivered to the stores, an undertaking that creates a fair amount of carbon dioxide itself.
Despite all this, paper towels are thrown away just after a single use. At the landfill, their decomposition also leads to the generation of methane, a gas that is known for contributing to climate change.
Using Less is More
Not ready to make the switch from paper towels but want to do your part to help the environment? Don’t worry, there are still a few things that you can do to. For instance, it helps to take just one towel instead of three at the bathroom. At home, you can also reuse the sheets if they’re not completely wet.
An Eco-friendly Alternative to Paper Towels
If possible, however, it’s better to stop using paper towels altogether. One great alternative is sponge cloths. As mentioned earlier, they are highly versatile and can be used on almost any type of surface. Unlike paper products, they are also reusable in that they can be washed again and again; this leads to less waste. There’s just one problem—they are prone to harboring icky bacteria. Ultimately, this is due to the fact that the cloth tends to remain wet (microbes love moist environments).
Fortunately, there’s a type of dishcloth that is resistant to this phenomenon. That’s right, Swedish dishcloths. Unlike the regular kind, many of which are made from synthetic materials, these are 100% natural; that is, they are made from cotton and plant-based cellulose. As it is, this type of fabric dries much quicker than that of conventional dishcloths. What does this mean? They are much less likely to harbour bacteria and germs.
Swedish Dishcloths vs Paper Towels
Do you remember what we said earlier? More than 10 billion pounds of paper towels are used on a yearly basis—and that’s just in the United States! By replacing these paper products with something more sustainable, you’ll be able to save a lot of trees. Did you know that one Swedish dishcloth is equivalent to 17 rolls of paper towels? Let’s put it another way—a single dishcloth is capable of doing the work of 17 rolls of paper towels! If that’s the case, why use paper towels at all?
Not only are paper towels non-sustainable, but they can also be quite costly in the long run. Given that you cook and clean on a regular basis, you’ll probably need to buy a new pack of towels once every few weeks. How much would that cost you? Assuming that you use two rolls of towels a week, it’ll cost nearly $200 a year! In contrast, Swedish dishcloths are both cheaper and more durable; you can easily get a pack of ten for under $20.
How are Cellulose Dishcloths Eco-Friendly?
Dishcloths are more eco-friendly than paper towels. However, Swedish dishcloths are even more eco-friendly. How are they better? Let’s take a look at the reasons below.
1. Swedish Dishcloths Last Longer
As explained above, Swedish dishcloths are generally more resistant toward bacteria. For this reason, they tend to last longer—that is, you don’t have to throw them out as often as regular dishcloths, which tend to get soiled quickly. Naturally, this would lead to less garbage (i.e. less goes to the landfill).
Remember, just because dishcloths are better than paper towels, doesn’t mean that they don’t go into the trash. They still do. By switching to the Swedish variety, though, you’ll be doing your part to prevent the landfill from being filled with dishcloths!
2. Sponge Cloths are Biodegradable
Conventional dishcloths are made from a variety of materials from polyester to microfiber. In contrast, the composition of Swedish dishcloths is always the same—they are constructed from cotton and cellulose, both of which are naturally occurring fibers. Ultimately, what this means is that they are biodegradable; that is, they are able to decay naturally with the help of bacteria and other organisms.
Instead of throwing them in the trash (which you could), you can instead put them in the compost. This will allow the natural fibers to be reused as fertilizer for the soil. Not only will this lower your carbon footprint, but it will also reduce methane gas emission, something that is beneficial for the environment. Wouldn’t you want to do your part to combat climate change?
3. Swedish Dishcloths are Reusable
Unlike paper towels, which are often thrown away after a single use, Swedish dishcloths reusable. As stated earlier, their durability also makes them more reusable than conventional dishcloths. To give you a better idea, our dishcloths can be washed up to 50 times!
Once you’ve used the cloth to wipe a surface, you can sanitize it by one of three ways. For starters, you can put the dishcloth into the washing machine along with your dishes; the dish detergent will be enough to clean the natural fibers. When the cycle is done, take it out and hang it up to dry.
Another way that you can sanitize them is to put them in the microwave. Before you go ahead and put it in, though, make sure that the cloth is adequately damp; otherwise, the material can easily catch on fire (as would most dry items). Microwave the dishcloth for one to two minutes—the exact time will depend on how strong your machine is. When the timer is up, carefully take the cloth out. It will be hot! Gently press out any excess water before letting it dry.
Lastly, you can reuse them by putting them in the washing machine. That’s right—you can just wash them like any other laundry. If your dishcloth is light colored, however, you’ll want to avoid putting it in the same load as dark-colored clothing as that can lead to bleeding. Add a small amount of detergent and wash as normal on a gentle cycle.
Note: It’s a good idea to use a mesh laundry bag if your dishcloth as embroidery; that will prevent it will coming off in the wash.
As soon as the cellulose dishcloth dries, it will be ready to be used again! All you have to do is dampen it with some water (and soap) and it will go back to its soft, absorbent state.
4. Manufacturers Actively Avoid Unnecessary CO2 Emissions
The term carbon footprint is used to define the environmental impact of an organization, person, or product. More specifically, it measures the total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. What are greenhouse gases? Essentially, they are gaseous compounds that are capable of trapping heat in the atmosphere. Responsible for the greenhouse effect, they ultimately lead to global warming. Did you know that our CO2 levels are now are much, much higher than what they have been for millions of years?
How are dishcloths related to CO2 emission? The answer is simple—their production process is linked to the release of carbon dioxide. For instance, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere when the products are in transit to stores (i.e. transport vehicles).
As it is, however, our Swedish dishcloths are manufactured in a way that is designed to reduce CO2 emission. For one thing, renewable sources of energy make up 30% of what is used to create the cloth; this in itself helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. Second of all, transport distances are short, which drastically reduces CO2 emissions.
5. Swedish Dishcloths Eliminate the Need For Other Cleaning Cloths
Cellulose dishcloths are incredibly versatile. In the kitchen alone, they can be used for countertops, dishes, sinks, and more. As long as you clean them properly, they can pretty much be used for any type of surface. Given that, it only makes sense that you can use it elsewhere in the house such as in the bathroom and garage. For instance, you can use them to clean tiles, walls—even your car! Soft and absorbent (when wet), they are great for windows and mirrors as well; you won’t have to worry about them leaving any scratches or streak marks.
If anything, they can be used in place of other cleaning cloths and towels. After all, why go through the trouble of buying different types of cloths when you can just use one for everything? By switching to the Swedish variety, you’ll also be producing less waste as they are biodegradable and compostable. Remember, most of the regular cleaning cloths out there are made out of synthetic materials, which ultimately end up at the landfill.