Throw in the (paper) towel

Via Rachel Steele
on Jun 11, 2008
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In honor of elephant’s Summer Green Issue, I am going to suggest a simple way to become greener—give up paper towels. Perhaps many of you out there might have already, but I know that the majority of my devoted readership (hi mom! hi dad!) have not. And most of my friends have not, though many consider themselves green. Last week Target was having a sale on commercial washcloths, $8 for 30 washcloths (They also have inexpensive organic cotton hand towels). When the universe makes it that easy, there are no excuses. I have replaced my napkins with these washcloths, and I have also started cleaning with them. I also plan to take a cue from the restaurant Burnt Toast on the Hill and cut up old T-shirts, just as soon as I get my hands on a good pair of scissors. I do not recommend trying to cut up old T-shirts with anything less than a really sharp pair of scissors, as I now have to get my hands on a good vacuum to get up all these little cotton fibers from my carpet. In case you do not know if your scissors are sharp enough, here is a quick test. If your thrift store scissors predate you, they are not. Luckily, the whole shirt is more or less still intact and ready to be turned into dinner napkins and hand cloths.

So do it. Give up paper towels. It is not as hard as you think (minus the scissors).

Okay, I lied. I am not cutting up an old T-shirt; it is a new T-shirt. I won it at a concert a month ago and it is U-G-L-Y. My wallet was also stolen at this concert. But now I have turned a shirt with a bad memory into a positive lifestyle change. So go into your closet and grab that ugly shirt your Aunt gave you for your birthday/Hanukkah/Christmas or your ex-boyfriends T-shirt you used to sleep in (live in the present!). And if you have impeccably stylish relatives or happen to be on good terms with all your exes, there’s always Target.


About Rachel Steele

Rachel Steele originally hails from Charleston, SC, but schlepped all the way to Boulder to play in the mountains and study at the University of Colorado. She graduated with a degree in in Political Geography in 2008 and then briefly traveled in India and was certified as a yoga teacher in 2009 at Holy Cow Yoga Studio. She has since returned to her mother's ancestral home of Brooklyn, NY and is proud to call the Williamsburg area home. Despite what her mother recently said, she doesn't think she's become a hipster. She does wears many hats, including a fedora with a pin of Lindsey Lohan on it, but the one that is most important to her is that of a feminist filmmaker. She also loves live music, enjoys cooking, and is happiest when rabble rousing. She does miss Colorado, but feels very connected to her college home when writing for elephant. Her personal blog can be found at and on imdb.


3 Responses to “Throw in the (paper) towel”

  1. chuckwagon says:

    When you support TARGET you support some bad shit. One way to say no to corporate greed is to not give them your money. Just do the SAVERS thing.

  2. Emilie says:

    Now, I have been trying to do this for a very long time, but I just feel that my cloth towels get so dirty, and at the end of the day I always want to use a paper towel to dry off from a good hand scrub (especially after a long el ride….and especially when they found 2 dead bodies on the tracks of two different train in one day… that shit is dirty). But I always feel guilty afterwards. Any suggestions for geraphobes/ hypocondriacs like me?

  3. admin says:

    For Boulder locals, McGuckins is a great Target alternative. They’re indie and they have eeeeverything.