Reusing and reusing!

One of the first things I decided to do when I start this blog, was to as far as possible ditch the disposables in the kitchen.  One of these disposables was kitchen paper.  I filled an old bag dispenser with cleaning cloths, flannels, rags – anything that I could use as a cleaning cloth and put it next to my sink.  I also managed to build up quite a stack of tea towels which are in constant use.  

Sustainable gift wrap course
I have been reusing and reusing and reusing these tea towels and cleaning cloths.  To the point where some of the tea towels and cleaning cloths have great big gaping holes in them.  I do have plans to put the cotton ones on the compost heap at some point and to buy some new ones but haven’t quite got round to that yet. Does anyone have any ideas for where I can get hold of eco-friendly, affordable and ethical tea towels.  I’m thinking fair trade, unbleached, biodegradable e.g. made out of 100% cotton or hemp, using natural dyes etc ???  In case you are wondering why this might be important watch this!
I could quite happily live without kitchen paper now, but my husband keeps putting it in the kitchen and it is very tempting to reach for it.  Whenever we run out though I don’t rush to replace it and I have found alternative ways to deal with pretty much everything.
  • Food and water spillages on a work surface, table or the floor – mop up with tea towel/ cleaning cloth / towel
  • Spreading around the oil in a frying pan – use a pastry brush (before the pan is hot), or just tilt the pan to spread the oil around.
  • Too much oil in a pan – tip some out into the rubbish bin or compost heap (don’t clog up your drains with it)
  • Greasing a dish – again use a pastry brush or use your (clean) fingers!
  • Filthy rubbish bin / something disgusting which needs cleaning  – use up paper waiting to be recycled or composted (e.g. envelopes, junk mail…) 
  • Draining greasy foods – I have to admit that I have been using kitchen paper for this, but equally a tea towel dedicated to the job could work. It might need washing in a bucket or something and the water used to water the garden afterwards though to avoid clogging drains…
  • Drying fruit and veg – use a tea towel
Some people may prefer to have particular types of towels dedicated to particular tasks e.g. hand towels for drying hands, one colour tea towels for dishes another colour for spillages and so on and so on… I don’t worry too much about which towel I use for what – unless I have used a towel to mop up grease or something grim..  I also find that flannels make a good stop gap when I have run out of clean tea towels..
I wash my cleaning cloths and tea towels on a hot wash and I think it is a good idea to replace them soon as they are pretty worn out now..  The good thing is that apart from the money and paper saved from not using kitchen paper, there is also no need for the plastic packaging that kitchen paper usually comes in!
Could you live without kitchen paper or is there something that you feel you just have to use kitchen paper for?
So far I have given up shampoo and supermarkets as part of My Year of Eco Challenges and now I’m preparing to give up plastic too. If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter – thanks so much!


  1. Why have I not thought of this? Great idea! I'm just about to make a donation of clothes to the charity shop as part of our decluttering exercise. After reading this I wonder if any of them would be useful as cleaning rags? Do you boil them up in between uses to decontaminate?

    I've just started blogging on our 'Un-Paving Paradise' experiment of a more thrifty, ethical and eco-friendly Christmas.

  2. Zoe

    Clothes could make good cleaning rags depending on the material. It might be worth testing how well they mop up spillages before you chop them up! I don't boil them, I just wash them on a hot wash between uses.

  3. Anonymous

    As promised my favourite dishcloth knitting patterns seed stitch
    4.5mm needles ( size 7 old money) cast on 33 ( or any odd number over this)
    R1 Knit
    R2 knit one *knit 1 below, knit 1repat from *
    R3 knit
    R4 knit2 knit 1 below * knit 1 knit 1 below . repeat from * to last 2 stitches Knit2

    repeat these four rows until you are either fed up of it or the cloth is the size you want!

    Chinese wave
    size4.5 needles ( size 7) cast on 45 stitches

    R1 knit
    R2 *knit1 slip1* repeat to last stitch knit1
    R3 knit
    R4 knit 2 *slip 1 knit 1* repeat to last 3 stitches slip 1 knit 2

    I buy unbleached 100% cotton yarn from my local shop and it costs about £1.10 to make two really good size cloths. happy stitching! Lisa ( tea4lisa)

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