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  1. Wednesday, October 28

    Update On My “No More Paper Towels” New Year’s Resolution

    It’s been about 6 months since I’ve given an update on my 2015 New Year’s resolution, so I thought it was time to check in! For those of you who don’t know, each year I choose a New Year’s resolution that is related to food or the kitchen that impacts the environment in a positive way. This year my goal was to stop using paper towels. So, how are we doing? I have had several friends and family members ask with a skeptical voice if we are really doing it and if it’s actually going well.

    my 2015 new year's resolution...no more paper towels!

    It’s going great! Honestly, it hasn’t been hard at all. The big stack of Ikea towels I bought have worked wonderfully, and my system of having the bin of towels accessible in the kitchen and then hooks close by (for hanging after use) works like a charm! (Click here to read more of the details.) Everyone in the family is participating and following the plan. The key to success has been accessibility. The towels are at everyone’s level and in the center of things. The hooks are nearby for the dirty towels. I don’t have any extra laundry, the towels just go in with everything else. I am really happy with how well it has worked out!

    As for cleaning, I have mostly moved away from paper towels. I still use them to clean the toilet, along with bleach cleaner. I haven’t been able to switch over to a towel for that task, despite my aunt telling me it will be fine. She has a designated towel for the toilets, with a T in permanent marker in the corner and she says it works great with her environmentally-friendly soap. One day maybe I’ll take the plunge. (Not into the toilet, just into cleaning it differently.) Toilets aside, I no longer use paper towels for any of our cleaning. I purchased high quality microfiber towels and, not only am I not using paper towels, I use less soap. And it’s faster and easier! (I’ll share the towels I bought in a separate post down the road.)

    There is one more thing that I still use paper towels for – draining bacon. I should be able to come up with another way to do this, but I really like patting the bacon dry with a paper towel. If anyone has suggestions for this, let me know!

    So, have we completely given up paper towels? Not quite, but almost. We hardly ever use them, just for toilets and bacon. And my life is not any harder. In fact, cleaning is easier. I am so glad I finally pulled the trigger to make this goal a reality in our home!

    If you’ve been trying to cut back on paper towels, let us know how it’s going and please share any tips that have been helpful with your implementation!


  2. Tuesday, March 10

    How To Stop Using Paper Towels in the Kitchen

    Remember my 2015 New Year’s Resolution to give up paper towels? The process is underway and so far so good! We are down to just 2 more rolls, which I will keep in the garage for “emergencies.” Besides that we are done with paper towels! Today I wanted to share some tips for how to stop using paper towels in the kitchen that have helped to make our family successful at this goal. It was surprisingly simple and easy!(Side note: I will share tips for giving up paper towels in regards to housecleaning in a later post.)

    tips for how to stop using paper towels in the kitchen from @janemaynard

    I’m just going to share what we did with some good old fashioned bullet points. Here we go!

    • Buy a WHOLE BUNCH of cloth towels that are good at drying. I like lightweight cloth towels better than terry cloth. Flour sack towels are my favorite to use in the kitchen. In addition to the flour sack towels I already own (you can buy those pretty much anywhere these days, by the way), I also purchased the Tekla and Elly dish towels from Ikea, which were $0.79 – $1.00 per towel. (FYI: I like the fabric used for the Tekla towels a little better, they have a little hook for hanging and they’re cheaper.) I am also planning to buy a few of these Bird-E  Towels on Etsy (thanks to reader Sara B. for that suggestion!).

    tips for how to give up paper towels in the kitchen from @janemaynard

    • Store the towels all together in a VERY accessible spot in your kitchen. I bought a bin to keep all the towels in and we keep the bin in a drawer in the middle of our kitchen, one that all of the kids can easily reach.

    tips for how to give up paper towels in the kitchen from @janemaynard

    • Get a small basket to set in the laundry area for soiled towels and cloth napkins. I bought a cute basket to set on our dryer and that’s where all the dirty (dry) towels and cloth napkins go.

    tips for how to give up paper towels in the kitchen from @janemaynard

    • Hang hooks in the laundry or kitchen area. I found wall hooks that say “LAUNDRY” at World Market, but any hooks will do! After we’ve used one of the towels, if it’s too wet to throw into the laundry basket we hang it on a hook. Luckily for me my laundry area is right next to the kitchen, so the hooks hang above the washing machine. If your laundry room isn’t close to the kitchen, find a good spot in your kitchen to place the hooks. The key is that they need to be accessible!

    tips for how to give up paper towels in the kitchen from @janemaynard

    • While we’re at it, get a basket for cloth napkins is stored in an accessible spot in the kitchen. We’ve had cloth napkins for a long time but we would were terrible and almost always just grabbed a paper towel because it was easier than walking across the room to the linen drawers. I took the cloth napkins OUT of the linen drawer and put them into a basket that hangs on the wall above the kitchen counter . As soon as I made that change we have only been using cloth napkins. It’s awesome! (Note: As you can see in the photo above, I haven’t actually hung the basket on the wall yet, but that’s the plan!)

    The key to successfully getting rid of paper towels and paper napkins is making the cloth versions accessible and easy to grab. It’s so simple but it took me a while to figure it out! Now that we have our system in place, everyone is using cloth with no issues whatsoever. My kids know where everything is and what to do with dirty towels and napkins. Every time I see one of the towels hanging to dry above the washing machine it makes me so happy!

    If you have any addition tips, thoughts or questions, please share! (Also, be sure to check out the comments on my original paper towel post. There are some great tips there, too!)


  3. Tuesday, January 6

    My 2015 New Year’s Resolution: No More Paper Towels!

    It’s January, which means it’s time to set a resolution! As you know, I like to choose a resolution each year that is related making a change in the kitchen that has a positive environmental impact.

    my 2015 new year's resolution...no more paper towels!

    A few weeks ago I went to a party at my neighbor’s house. I accidentally spilled a drink and immediately called out, “Where are the paper towels?” Kat then handed me a stack of cloth towels. Because, apparently, real-live cloth towels dry things, too. Who knew? Okay, I knew. But for some reason I kind of ignore that fact a lot.

    I use too many paper towels, both for cleaning the house and for day-to-day use in the kitchen. That simple experience at Kat’s house made me realize how dumb it is that I so often default to the disposable solution when I need a towel, even after my efforts to reduce plastic, paper napkins and the like in past years. I was talking about this with Nate’s mom last week and she said that she only buys paper towels when we’re in town. Geesh. It is seriously time that I tackle this ridiculous addiction once and for all!

    So, 2015 is the year! No more paper towels! We’ll use up the paper towels we have left and then, after that, I’m not allowing myself to buy any more. As my paper towel supply begins to dwindle, I will be stocking up on cloth towels of all kinds. If you have suggestions for towels you like, both for the kitchen and for cleaning in general, please share!

    On a related note, I love our cloth napkins and we use them quite frequently, but I will admit to grabbing paper towels when I’m feeling too lazy to walk across the room to the napkin drawer. All of this is changing this year! Go Team! You Can Do It!

    So, who’s with me? Let’s cut the paper towel cord together! I need the moral support. 😉


  4. Tuesday, October 14

    My New Favorite, Totally Random Kitchen Gadget: Onion Saver

    I made an impulse buy at the grocery store this week: a Hutzler Onion Saver.

    onion saver review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: I love it!)

    Here’s the thing. I never know how to store leftover, raw, unchopped onions, which I often have because I tend to only use half an onion at a time. I don’t like to use plastic baggies because of my goal to use less one-time use plastic. But the onion is usually kind of bulky, so I have to use a larger storage container than I really need that takes up space in the fridge. Basically, this is a very difficult problem to have and my life is hard. (Insert sarcastic emoji that doesn’t exist but should.)

    onion saver review by @janemaynard (spoiler alert: I love it!)

    Hence, my impulse buy of the onion saver. And, I LOVE it. Granted, I’ve only used it for 2 days and have no idea if it will last forever or whatever, but, so far, so good. It stores my onion well, doesn’t take up tons of space in the fridge, and traps in the onion odor so the fridge doesn’t get stinky.

    Happy onion storing!


  5. Friday, August 22

    Friday Show and Tell: The Cutest Comment on the Internet, A Must-Read Article About Plastic and More!

    Happy Friday! I didn’t publish any blog posts this week – that might be the first time ever! It was the last week of summer and we are dealing with a plumbing mystery that has taken hours (days?) of our time and is resulting in the need to repipe our house. Yes, totally sucky. But, I have a house to repipe, so who am I to complain? As a result of my non-posting this week, I’m bubbling over with things to share with you, so today’s Show and Tell is chock full of good stuff!

    milk toast by @janemaynard

    I had a post publish on Babble this week entitled Kick It Old-School with this Milk Toast Breakfast Recipe. I’ve been excited for this post to go live so I could share it with you. The recipe is seriously delicious. As wonderful as the recipe is, I have a little something else about milk toast that I have to tell you about.

    Milk toast is considered a “vintage” recipe, one that I’ve found many people haven’t even heard of. While I was researching milk toast for my article, I came across a comment on a random website by a reader named “Grumpy” that absolutely captured my heart. “I have tried to make [milk toast] from memories of my mother making it when we were children. We had more milk than we could use from the cow I milked, and fresh home churned butter mixed into the hot milk. Mine is not near as good as I remember it was back then. I am 85 and have to cook now, after all these years. I do miss my darling wife’s cooking.” Seriously, this might win best comment on the internet ever. I can’t even.

    Moving on to less cute, more depressing things…how’s that for a segue? Aren’t you excited to keep reading? I thought so! Remember my annual New Year’s Resolution to Use Less Plastic? We haven’t talked about it since the beginning of the year, so I thought I’d touch base real quick. I found an article on Medium this week that you should absolutely read, Gyres: The Terrifying True Story of the Garbage That Could Kill the Human Race. I had a similar reaction when reading this article as I did when I saw the documentary Bag It and the short video The Story of Stuff – basically a horrified, “we have to do something” reaction. The article about gyres is loooooonnnng and, honestly, the writing is super flowery and kind of hard to get through, BUT you still need to read it. I had pulled a bunch of quotes to share in this post but realized I had pulled paragraphs of quotes, so it’s probably better for you to just go to the source. And then let’s use less plastic together! I think about this goal every day and our family has definitely made progress, little by little. As Gandhi so eloquently said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We can do it! (Sorry for the cheerleading, preachy portion of today’s program…sometimes I can’t help myself.)

    Here are my other food links for the week!

    Phew! I’m done! Your turn to share whatever you like! Also, if you’ve joined me on the Use Less Plastic train, tell us how it’s going!


  6. Friday, January 3

    2014 New Year’s Resolution: Use Less Plastic (Again!)

    Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the start of your year has been a good one! We kicked off 2014 with a visit to Pasadena, where he had amazing grandstand seats for the Tournament of Roses Parade (big thanks to our friend Sherri!) and attended a far-too-stressful football game at the Rose Bowl (go Stanford no matter the result!).

    Now that we’re a few days into the new year, I thought we could chat quickly about resolutions. I’m not a huge new year’s resolution person, but I must admit that since I started creating resolutions that link food to the environment, I actually really like setting a goal each year. It has helped a lot! It’s time to set my goal for 2014 and it’s the going to be the same one I’ve had for the last two years: Use Less Plastic.

    2014 new years resolution: use less plastic from @janemaynard

    The first year I made this goal it was very general and I didn’t make much progress. Last year I decided to get more specific and to also revisit the goal throughout the year. That definitely helped and we had a few successes. We’ve started making our own yogurt, eliminating all those little yogurt cups, and I make all of our granola bars, reducing all that one-time packaging trash we were producing every day. I stopped using plastic baggies completely in the kids’ lunches and we only use cloth napkins at home now. (Quick tip: Cocktail-sized cloth napkins are PERFECT for everyday use! I got mine at the Crate & Barrel outlet and love them.)

    2014 new years resolution: use less plastic from @janemaynard

    Since using less plastic is really important but also incredibly challenging, I’m sticking with the goal for another year. Step 1 for 2014 is to finally use the reusable grocery bags I have stuffed in a closet. It is ridiculous that I don’t bring my bags with me when I go shopping! Once I have that tackled, I’ll get another goal going and will keep you posted on my progress!

    Just a few quick thoughts on plastic. First, this infographic is great food for thought in regards to plastic and the ocean, which is just one part of the plastic story. Second, if you haven’t watched the documentary Bag It yet, please do. It’s GREAT and you can now stream it on both Amazon and iTunes.

    the plastics breakdownSource: One World, One Ocean

    On a completely unrelated note, I am also making a resolution to get more organized with my housekeeping, you know, now that I have a house to actually keep! I think I’ll just make a monthly schedule and try to stick to that. I’ll keep you posted and share the schedule when it’s all put together, in case anyone else wants to join in on the “fun.”

    What are your new year’s resolutions for 2014? Would love to hear them! Also, did you join in on the “Use Less Plastic” fun in 2013 or are you planning to for 2014? Please share your tips and tricks for reducing waste, especially plastic! 


  7. Tuesday, April 23

    Greener Lunchboxes

    As you know, I repeated the same new year’s resolution for 2013 as I had in 2012 because I did such a terrible job of cutting back on plastic and disposable items the first time around. It was a surprisingly difficult resolution! I’ve made a few specific goals to help me be more successful this year. One of the goals is that when I run out of paper napkins and plastic baggies, I’m not allowed to buy new ones and have to start using cloth and reusable containers. A couple of weeks ago I ran out of snack baggies. That day I went to Facebook for suggestions on good reusable lunchbox containers. I was flooded with ideas, on my blog’s Facebook page as well as my personal page.

    reusable containers for lunch boxes

    Today I wanted to share two of the products that I’ve tried out so far and really like!

    Little Green Pouch: I love the convenience of the applesauce pouches that have popped up in recent years and my kids love having them for snacks. BUUUUUT…the packaging is incredibly guilt-inducing for me. Those super-handy pouches are the perfect example of one-time use items that can’t be recycled, exactly the type of thing I’m trying to eliminate from my life. Enter the Little Green Pouch! I am beyond excited about this product. They are reusable pouches that are free of BPA and pthalates, freezer safe, and dishwasher safe. They’re perfect for storing and freezing homemade baby food, applesauce for snacks, and even yogurt (frozen overnight and thrown in the lunchbox for later that morning). I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about these pouches! You can order the pouches here.

    little green pouch reusable pouch container

    LunchSkins: One product that was recommended by many of you over and over again was LunchSkins. I love them. They are dishwasher safe, free of BPA, lead and pthalates, come in three perfect sizes for various lunch foods, and they’re cute to boot! You can order LunchSkins online. Target has also started carrying LunchSkins2, which includes 1 sandwich and 1 snack bag.

    lunchskins reusable lunch bags

    P.S. I have many more products to try and will keep you posted on what I think!

    P.P.S. Big thanks to Little Green Pouch and LunchSkins for sending me product to try out. They may have given me the product, but all opinions are my own and I really do love their stuff!

    P.P.P.S. Stay tuned for some giveaways!

    P.P.P.P.S Be sure to check out my article on Babble yesterday fitting in with today’s theme: 11 Ways to Green Your Kitchen TODAY