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The Crunchy Mom’s Guide to Creating a Paperless Kitchen

The Crunchy Mom’s Guide to Creating a Paperless Kitchen -Chelsijo

August 25, 2023

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Crunchy mom of two, married to my favorite boy for life, and lover of the dark chocolate peanut butter cups!
I went from nearly losing my mind and business to an intentional, successful woman all because of systems.
I'm Chelsi Jo
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While you may not consider yourself a “crunchy mom,” you probably still care about the planet that you live on. Today, I have alarming news to share—deviating slightly from our usual topics. Yet, this subject is close to my heart, one I’ve invested years into. The time has come to introduce my paperless kitchen system to you!

Let’s talk about embracing a paperless kitchen, starting with bidding adieu to paper towels and other kitchen disposables. I understand an immediate transition might be challenging, but hear me out. This system convinced even my initially skeptical husband.

Even my 90-year-old grandmother, a secret paper towel enthusiast, joined in. You can too! I can’t wait to hear about you becoming a Susie Homemaker crunchy mama after reading this blog. Let’s get into it!

Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast

Embracing a Greener Lifestyle: The Power of a Paperless Kitchen

Every single year, a staggering 250 million tons of trash is generated from paper towels alone. Can you fathom the weight of a ton? It’s a lot, and we’re talking about 254 million tons here, truly.

Now, let’s envision this differently: If every household in the US were to reduce their usage by just one roll of paper towels (let’s say the average kind, not the jumbo packs), we could save an astounding 544,000 trees next year. Doesn’t that strike you as mind-boggling?

Consider this: Roughly 60% of the immense 17 billion cubic feet of timber harvested worldwide annually is allocated to paper production. Here’s another fascinating tidbit: If only 50% of the US population used three paper napkins daily, we’d be looking at a whopping 450 million napkins used in just one day, amounting to over 164 billion napkins over a year.

The Impact of Small Choices on Our Planet

Yes, those numbers may are overwhelming! However, they serve as a reminder of how even the tiniest modifications in our daily lives can produce monumental changes. Our small choices—such as those in our kitchen—can have a profound impact on our planet.

Awakening to the Reality: Surprising Reflections on Paper Towel Usage

Now that I’m aware of the substantial paper towel consumption, here’s why this realization caught me off guard: I tend to avoid conventional grocery stores, opting for natural markets instead. These stores don’t prominently feature these paper products; they may have small sections, but it’s not their focus. 

However, a trip to a place like Target or, specifically, Walmart changed that. Witnessing many carts filled with disposable plates and napkins left me perplexed. I even recall jokingly asking Blaine if they were planning to eat exclusively off those dishes. The concept was entirely foreign to me, and it never occurred to me that people actually did that! 

Being a self-proclaimed crunchy woman and mom—even sporting a “mandate vegetables” t-shirt—I find it essential to understand the significance of these choices. It’s not just about the number of trees consumed, but the wastefulness of it all strikes me as unbelievable. 

Just remember, even if you don’t follow my suggestions, I hope you think about it. Perhaps consider using your dishes a bit more each week instead of relying on disposable plates – or, just ditch the disposable plates altogether.

Creating a Paperless Kitchen: A Journey to Swap Out Paper Towels and Napkins

Now, let’s dive into what we are discussing today: my journey to becoming entirely paperless at home. I’ve eliminated paper towels entirely from my shopping list. This transition emerged from my use of cloth diapers and a commitment to reusability across the board – except for toilet paper, I do draw the line there. 

However, every other paper-based product in our household has been swapped for a reusable alternative. The expense of this was minimal, although the market now offers remarkably convenient alternatives if you’re willing to invest a bit upfront.

Here’s the deal: No more paper towels, no more paper napkins. These are the items we tend to use most frequently. We’ve even reduced our dependence on paper towels in the car. I’ve found reusable wet wipes to be more practical. A resealable bag holds dampened wipes, and this works wonders – it’s particularly helpful on road trips!

Let’s get to the heart of it. I’m going to guide you through exactly what you should invest in and what should be readily available in your home to seamlessly eliminate paper towels and napkins from your life. It’s remarkably straightforward – this blog post will equip you with everything you need to ensure that paper towels and napkins never make their way into your home again.

Setting Up Your Paperless Kitchen: Mindset Shifts

Alright, let’s get into what you’ll need for this system to roll in your home. Yes, I can practically hear the collective sigh at the mention of needing a “dirty bucket.” But hold on – we’re not about to drown in extra laundry. 

The reality is, every system has its trade-offs. Whatever you’re currently doing might be different from what’s discussed here, and that’s okay. This process is not only effective but also enjoyable.

My husband used to love paper towels, and even my 90-year-old grandmother, a force to be reckoned with, couldn’t part with them. When she babysat, she’d use paper towels for everything.

“Over time, it gained momentum, and before I knew it, paper towels were a thing of the past.”

To break this cycle, I stashed away the paper towels, making them inconveniently inaccessible, and instead, I positioned my reusable towels within arm’s reach. Over time, it gained momentum, and before I knew it, paper towels were a thing of the past. It wasn’t an overnight change; I did try going cold turkey initially, but I was still adjusting the system. Once I had a solid structure in place, the switch became seamless.

Setting Up the Essentials: Building Your Paperless Kitchen Toolkit

Starting with the bare minimum, you’ll need a wash bin – I keep mine in the pantry, right beside the kitchen. Alternatively, it can fit under your kitchen sink. This bin is for all the reusable towels you use. This should be a small bin. The frequency of washing can vary; for me, it’s about once every two to three weeks, depending on spills. It’s manageable, truly.

Trust me, it’s just one load, and it’s a petite load. You can delegate folding duties to your kids, making it less of a hassle. I know you might be working on excuses in your head, but I urge you to stick with me through the rest of this.

Moving forward, the absolute basics you will need include washtowels (these are your dish towels). These can be used by laying them out for dishes to air-dry, preventing the clutter of a drying rack. You will also need washrags.

Third, you’ll want a small stash of cloth napkins. You can find these virtually anywhere. My personal favorite treasure trove for them is Goodwill. Often, they have brand-new cloth napkins, that were made awhile ago – long before disposable alternatives took over. It is so fun to collect them!

Fine-Tuning the Transition: Organizing and Labeling

That is all that you really need to make this system successful. I do end up labeling bins and put them out in a way that is convenient for your family to actually use them properly. Once they were out, I continually reinforced what each of the items were to be used for. 

For a touch of convenience and style, consider the paperless paper towels from a brand called Marley’s Monsters. They offer reusable alternatives to paper towels, even coming on a roll like traditional paper towels. They’re fantastic, and if you’re willing to invest a bit, they’re a game-changer. Google them, and you’ll be amazed!

Position hand towels by the sink and stove. I get it, it might sound gross initially, but drying your clean hands with a towel by the sink is perfectly fine! The stove-side towel is used for quick drying while cooking and I switch it out when it gets dirty. It is that simple.

For cloth napkins, set them near the kitchen table or wherever you usually keep your paper products. When the roll of disposable napkins is finished, just leave it out for a day or two. Let your family gradually embrace the shift to the reusable system.

Elevating Your Paperless Kitchen Experience: Practical Next Steps

That is the bare bones, here is the next step that I have added as we have embraced this system as a family. Consider having a wash bucket dedicated to the messier spills or projects. If you’re worried about using up your wash towels for these, repurpose older bath towels for this purpose. Keep these labeled “spill towels” and ensure everyone knows where to turn in case of a mess.

Here’s another handy addition that I love: wet wipes. These are excellent for cleaning faces, hands, and more. My go-to is the tiny square washcloths from stores like Walmart or Ross. They’re ultra-thin and perform exceptionally well. You can store these in a zippered bag, and they’re fantastic for traveling. Just remember not to leave them damp for extended periods, or they’ll turn sour.

Beyond the Basics of Your Paperless Kitchen: Decorative Towels and Napkins

If you’ve reached that point where you’re thinking, “Wow, this system is fantastic and I want more” then here’s the epic level to consider. If you are like me and you adore the elegance of pretty hand towels and napkins, this step is for you! 

I eventually switched my hand towels and napkins to ones that match my home’s decor. I even got creative with the kids’ napkins. We visited Hobby Lobby and selected various materials to match each season. During October, for instance, we pull out Halloween-themed reusable napkins. It’s a simple touch that keeps things exciting for the kids without relying on disposable paper napkins!

Now, let’s talk about hand towels. These are separate from wash towels and play a slightly different role. These are the “fancy” ones – think of them as accent towels. I’ve channeled my inner Joanna Gaines here. They’re perfect for special occasions, holidays, or even just sprucing up the kitchen.

I’ve found the cutest hand towels at Target’s dollar section – two for $5! They’re an extra pretty touch. I put them out when we have company, after a Sunday kitchen reset, or simply when I want things to look extra nice. These towels aren’t for heavy-duty use; they’re meant to be eye-catching, decorative pieces.

Navigating the Transition: Starting Small in Your Paperless Kitchen Journey

Being crunchy doesn’t mean you can’t be cute. You can definitely have both – it’s completely possible. Now, let me address a common question: How many of these items do you need? Start small. You don’t need to overhaul everything at once. 

Remember, it’s about transitioning. If you’ve run out of paper towels, take it as an opportunity to experiment. Try going a week without them. This will give you an idea of whether you have enough or if you need more.

As for cloth napkins, consider starting with 10 to 15 of them, especially if you have a moderate-sized family. Use them in conjunction with paper napkins initially to ease into the shift. This way, you can gauge how it fits your routine. You’ll notice that your laundry bins won’t fill up as quickly, reducing the frequency of laundry.

Review: 3 Workflow Management Steps for Success

And there you have it—a comprehensive guide to transforming your kitchen into a paperless haven! Now, you grasp the impact of a paperless kitchen and have these tips to start a journey of your own in your home.

Let’s quickly recap the key takeaways we’ve explored:

  1. First, embrace the concept of a paperless kitchen, bidding farewell to disposable paper towels and napkins, and making a commitment to going paperless.
  2. Next, dive into the practical steps for setting up your paperless kitchen toolkit, from wash bins to cloth napkins, and discover how easy this transition can be.
  3. Also, consider the finer aspects of placement, organizing, and labeling, allowing you to seamlessly incorporate this system into your daily routine.
  4. Lastly, remember that step by step, you can make progress. Just as with any change, it requires patience. The journey to a paperless kitchen requires effort and adaptability.

This system is intuitive. My kids know exactly where to go to grab a towel or napkin if there’s a spill. It is a seamless part of our routine. I find joy in contributing to my home in this way, and it aligns with being mindful of resources and environmental impact- you can too!

By taking action now, you’re shaping a future where conscious choices lead to a healthier planet and a harmonious home!

Looking to Learn More About Going Paperless in Your Home ?

If you are wanting to know how I keep up with cleaning tasks without using disposable paper products, check out my blog post, What To Include In Your Cleaning Tote When You Don’t Have A House Cleaner.

If you’ve started on this journey or are looking for help as you take the first steps, I invite you to join our Facebook community – it’s completely free! Feel comfortable sharing your questions and insights there; I’m excited to be your guide on this paperless kitchen transformation. I’m eagerly anticipating the positive changes this system will bring to your lives and the positive impact they’ll have on your family!

The Crunchy Mom’s Guide to Creating a Paperless Kitchen
-Chelsijo

Frequently Asked Questions

I loved hearing about this paperless kitchen system! I am ready for more. Where can I learn more about systems?

Head over to The Systemize Your Life Academy This is where you can get access the exact systems I use to juggle kids, a marriage, a house and my six figure business. With the Systemize Your Life Method you get organized and everything becomes simple! I teach you how to manage your life instead of neglecting it. 

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