My paperless kitchen

Aside from pregnancy updates, you may have noticed that blog content around here is a little low lately. Well, I got a little inspiration this morning thanks to Morgan sharing this little gem in my Google Reader: How to Create a Paperless Kitchen.

Stephen and I (Actually, he was the main proponent behind it. What? My formerly registered Republican husband an environmentalist? Huh?), just implemented this in our kitchen not too long ago. I was so excited that I was about to leave the longest comment ever on Morgan’s shared items and then I decided that it would probably just be better if I wrote up a post.

Now the original poster does a very good job of explaining the whys and hows (so you should really go check that out), but I just wanted to talk about how we make this work for us so if any of you are thinking about doing this you can maybe get some more ideas.

When we first started feeding Bean solid foods I set out to just use washcloths to clean her up after meals. This was easy when we lived in a one story house and getting a washcloth just meant a quick trip down the hall to her bedroom. When we moved to TO, however, I got in a really bad habit of using disposable wipes after her meals because going upstairs to get a clean washcloth after a meal (or remembering to bring some down beforehand) and then taking it back up to dispose of in the diaper pail seemed like such a pain, especially after I got pregnant again. I also kept running out of washcloths before it was time to do a load of diapers.

When we sat down to talk about creating a paperless kitchen in our house the solutions to this problem were obvious and simple. I bought a few more packs of washcloths so we wouldn’t run out all the time and started keeping a stack of clean cloths in the drawer where we keep Bean’s bibs. So now I always have some clean cloths handy to clean up with after meal time.


Burp cloths, bibs and wash cloths. This is Bean’s drawer. Sprout has a similar drawer next to it with his stuff.

We were also really bad about using paper for meal times and cleanup. The thing is, we already had plenty of kitchen towels, napkins and other cloth cleaning products, but we were just really bad about using them when a paper towel was right there and so handy. So not having a roll of paper towels out all the time has also help force us to grab the cloth stuff.


My kitchen towel and hot pad drawer.


Microfiber cleaning cloths for heavy duty stuff.


I found these super absorbant cloths at Trader Joe’s. I haven’t really found a use for them yet, but they are there.


These are my somewhat boring collection of cloth napkins that we’ve had ever since we got married. I wish I had some in much more fun prints. I’ll hopefully make/buy some more eventually, but these work for now.

I guess the other big key for us in creating a paperless kitchen was designating a space to put the dirty stuff. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal when you live in a place that is only one story, but it was a big deal in our two story apartment. I did not want to be going up and down the stairs several times a day with dirty dish towels, wash cloths, napkins, etc. Nor did I want these items piled on my small amount of kitchen counter space to be taken up in one big load. I actually stole the solution to this problem from my sister-in-law. When we watched her girls during their Norway vacation I noticed she kept a little laundry basket under the sink for kitchen laundry. Brilliant! I already had a perfect sized basket. It was just a matter of organizing under the sink a little to make room.

I usually grab whatever is in the basket when I am getting ready to do a load of Bean’s diapers and wash it all together. I guess it might seem gross to some people that I’m washing kitchen laundry with diaper laundry, but it IS clean in the end and I don’t really see it as a big deal. So that’s what we do. Plus, I don’t want greasy and food covered laundry getting washed in with the rest of my stuff.

One thing we still use paper for is the occasional big Saturday morning breakfast in order to drain the grease off meat, but other than that I’m proud to say we’ve been happily paper free in our kitchen for a few months now. Hopefully this inspires some of you to do the same.

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9 Comments

Filed under Family, Natural Living, Ramblings

9 responses to “My paperless kitchen

  1. I love your bin under the sink! That is a great idea! most of the time our dirty kitchen towels end up in a pile on the washer (since it’s the closest), but I’m trying to train Cale to walk it into our guest bathroom and put it in that hamper. We usually wash ours the same time we wash our bath towels, so it works fairly well. Also, a place I noticed that has cute and fairly cheap cloth napkins is World Market! lots of cute patterns. ❤

  2. lovelearnandlive

    Yay!! I love not using paper towels. I do still have a roll under the sink for cleaning yucky stuff up, like chicken juice on the counter, etc. but I don’t use them much at all. I *love* my microfiber cloths, I use them to clean the counters with just water and they leave no streaks. I have read that a microfiber cloth and water removes as much bacteria from surfaces as an antibacterial spray. I still use cleaning spray to clean up raw chicken or meat or things like that, but the rest of the time I just use the cloths. I have enough so that I use one wet and one dry each day and then put them in the hamper under the sink at the end of the day. Yes, the hamper takes up a lot of under-sink room but it sure is handy. 😀

    Now I just need to make the switch to cloth napkins. I have been meaning to do that for ages.

  3. Great post! I’m working on getting us to the paperless point, as well. Paper towel use is definitely on the decline. I need to make more cloth napkins as we run out quickly. I wish I could just completely remove the paper towels from the kitchen, but *some* people in the household would definitely protest. I feel good about doing what I can!

  4. We’re mostly paper-free too, but somehow our supply of napkins has dwindled. My sewing machines were broken and they are now fixed, so yay, I can whip up some more! I too love the laundry under the sink idea – why didn’t I ever think of that?? Right now we just throw them all on the floor in one corner – NOT attractive or hygienic. LOL

  5. Emily, we do the same thing with ours- throw them in the corner. Love that basket idea! And love that you’ve intentionally gone paper-free. I’m inspired!

  6. I agree… the laundry basket under the sink is perfect! I always hated throwing sopping wet, food-crusted towels in with my nicer clothes in the hamper. Great post! I thought of you and Steph when I shared that, actually. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the inspiration! We’ve never used paper napkins except for parties with lots of people, but I do usually have a roll of paper towels handy for messy jobs. Otherwise, I have plenty of cleaning rags, so I try to make use of them more often than not. But, YES — having a good place to throw the dirty ones is a big issue! My laundry is right next to my kitchen, but I hate to toss a yucky wet cloth into the hamper with other laundry, so I usually throw them on the floor, and they look really gross. Guess it’s time to get them their own hamper. 🙂

  8. GrandmaTiger

    My grandparents used things over and over. Probably because of the Great Depression. They had a saying “Use it, use it over, use it up, make do or do without”. My grandma had a special set of “flour sack” type lint-free cotton towels that were exclusively for bacon drippings. She would soak them in the sink in some dishsoap before adding to the washer. She also saved the bacon grease from the pan in an empty 5lb coffee tin and fried EVERYTHING in it. Never heard of “cholesterol” back then.

  9. Pingback: The Disposables: Running a Kitchen Without Paper | Constant Craftsman – Organic Gardening, Raising Livestock, and Simple Living

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