Frank Franklin II/AP


A full 90% of American households use paper towels for cleaning every day. And after every paper towel is used to clean up a spill, dry someone's hands, or get that spot off the stove, it heads into the trash. And then into the landfill.

Thus, the saga of the paper towel is complete, explaining why a massive 3,000 tons of waste get thrown in the landfill every day because of them. It's a pretty daunting figure; 3,000 tons of anything heading to the landfill is pretty shocking. But when it's something as light—and seemingly frivolous as paper towels—it's especially striking.

And so, onto my brilliantly innovative solution:

Don't use them. Just don't. Keep them out of your home.

Preposterous, you say? I say nay. Think of all the times you use paper towels throughout the day?I already named a few. Now, which of those times couldn't you instead employ a reusable cloth or towel instead of a disposable one? To wipe off the stove? Nope. To clean up a spill on the floor? Still no.

Though you might balk at the minor increase in your wash load, it's worth it?there's just no good reason to contribute to the tons of landfill waste we've already got on our hands. It's so much better to clean with zero waste.

So set aside some "dirty rags," and use them to soak up the spills until they're good and grimy and it's washing time. A good green way to keep an ample supply of rags is to cut up old undershirts that were on the way out, and use them for wine spills and stovetop spot cleaning. Just give it a go, even just for a weeklong test run, and trust me?it's easier and less gross than you think.