-- Angelika Thomas, Matteson, Ill.
-- Suzana, Indiana
Coming from the Philippines, being eco-friendly is a way of life; plain and simple. This way of life was handed to me by my grandparents and parents. I came here 29 years ago and was amazed how wasteful citizens of this country can be. We recycle at home with 3 blue-lined bins for papers, plastics/ glasses/bottles and aluminum cans. And my most recent way to help the environment is to re-use used fabric softeners. YES, re-use the used fabric softeners! I use them to remove/wipe dust, lint, hair, tiny dirt on the floors from living room to bedrooms, bathroom, corners, under the fridge, etc., instead of buying (which I used to) that "dry cloths" manufactured by big name household companies. In addition to leaving a mild scent to the newly wiped/cleaned area, I am able to save $2.59+ tax every two weeks by using the used fabric softeners this way (a savings of $60. +/year).
-- Delia Millanes-Quinain, Chicago
My environmental change was going back to good old bar soap. I eliminated liquid and shower cleaning cleaners, which comes in plastic bottles...Its cheaper and a lot less to recycle.
-- Donna Kowatch, Chicago
Ditch paper towelsTo cut down on paper towel use, I bought microfiber cleaning cloths. Dampened, they are excellent for glass and countertops. They do not require cleaning chemicals, so I use those much less now. Newspapers work very well to clean windows, as does the old-fashioned squeegee.
-- Harriet Hopkins, Bourbonnais, Ill.
I once asked my mother what people did before paper towels, throw away dusters, etc. She said "We used rags." Use rags?? Yes. Old towels, t-shirts, dish towels all do the job and do it well. And the more they're washed, the better they get. If you're short on rags, buy some flour sack towels to start with...fantastic for cleaning glass with vinegar and water. And what about using cloth napkins??
-- Caroyn Bertagnoli, Chicago
Put your paper towels in a very inconvenient location and only use them under extraordinary circumstances. I use cotton kitchen towels for just about everything that a paper towel would be used for -- patting chickens dry, drying herbs, counter clean up when I don't use a sponge, etc. When they are semi-soiled, I cycle them to a hook under the sink and use them to wipe floor spills and other dirty tasks. Washing the towels as part of a large load eliminates all of those paper towels in land fills and saves money.
-- Carol A. Williams
I haven't purchased paper towels ever since I found large squares of white terry cloth "rags" in the automotive section of one of the mega stores. They look like cloths that are used to hand-dry and polish cars, but they are hemmed, extremely absorbent, and very inexpensive (about 34 cents apiece) and can be laundered (bleached, in case of staining). I use them for everything in the kitchen except drying rinsed meat, fish, and dishes. Saves a lot of trees.
-- No name
We almost never buy paper towels. Instead, I cut down old (discolored, shabby) towels or clothes and keep them on hand for cleaning up spills, washing windows, even use them as napkins. Aside from the cost-effectiveness of this method, the energy it takes to wash these is minimal and makes it me feel good to know we are not adding to the ongoing problem of waste disposal.
-- Joni Quinn, Evergreen Park, Ill.