Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Paper me please!

Paper towels have become so convenient to use they almost seem like a necessity in our homes now days. So much easier when little ones spill their drinks or to wipe down the bathroom sink. Just wipe and throw away. I'll admit it. I got sucked in too. Even now when I walk down that isle in the store I glance at the paper towels longingly. However, when it came to needing to cut costs in the house, they just had to go.

I'd buy the big jumbo packs that lasted about two months for $9.97 + 07% sales tax I was paying nearly $6 a month just for paper towels. Not a lot up front I know, but it adds up over time. That was $72 a year.

Then we'd factor in the paper plates and bowls for those "easy to grab" moments. You know being a single mom, I didn't want to always do the dishes. With school, work, and a kid some nights it was just easier to use items that you just throw away. Then when I got married, my husband (coming from a family that used paper plates all the time.) fell right into routine. I didn't like certain brands, they just ended up being to flimsy and easy to cut through. So I had my favorite brand. Plates $6 for 80ct, and bowls $5 for 70ct. That lasted us about two months before I had to buy more since I did use actual plates for dinner most of the time. Bowls seemed to go faster with my son. So you're adding in another $66 a year just on these items.

That's a $138 a year! I mean that's a Zoo family membership + Membership to the local science museum here for the whole year. Which is so much more awesome than "easy to use" items around the house.

Well that's one way to shave down money. Then I got to thinking about it. I'd like to think of myself as an advocate for healthier living, but in all my "Go Green" thoughts, you know recycling and buying healthier local foods. For some reason my paper towels and paper plates just didn't factor in to the whole "Go Green" idea. I mean, my favorite brand did happen to be from recycled materials. It was a "green" product, biodegradable and all. In reality though how green was it?

I hate waste even long before the "Go Green" movement. Growing up on a farm, waste really wasn't an option. We didn't even waste our potato skins! Hello potato skin chips! I'm sure all of you are with me when I say we also teach our kids waste is bad: "Turn off the lights." "Don't leave the water running.". So how did I slip into this? I mean, I have a dishwasher, it's noisy and dirty work, but very manageable. I have no reason's why this should be a problem even on the most stressful of days. Unloading it is very tedious, but again, very manageable and not hard at all, plates with plates, bowls with bowls. Just stack, Cups up, pots down. Dish rags and towels work just as well as cleaning up spills, all you have to do is rinse. Hello, my name is Jessica and I am addicted to paper products.
So how did I get hooked? With a very inconvenient truth: Paper products make life easier.
 Getting back on track has been no easy feat. While we've finally cut out the paper towels at least, it took a lot of hard work. So keeping rags on hand to wipe down the bathroom and remembering to use the dish cloth for spills wasn't so hard, but I'm southern and I like my occasional fried foods. So how do I drain the grease? It was so much easier with paper towels.

My contraption. Pasta colander with a bowl underneath.
So we were having fried fish, with fried okra, french fries, and green beans. Hey it's got two veggies, it's healthy I say! Okay so the way I justify this dinner is the veggies are organic and from local farms. I know, I know, it's my indulgence.

One thing that I've always done. Is just 1 pot of grease, first comes the french fries because they are mild in taste, second come the okra, third is the fish because we all know you can't reuse grease after meat/poultry/fish have been cooked in it. Contamination.
Also, not gonna lie here, I use the 1 pot method because I really do just hate doing dishes.

 First the fries are drained and salted here. I let them "drip dry" while frying the next batch, occasionally shaking the colander gently and tossing the fries.

Second of course, the okra. After removing the fries to individual plate. I remove the okra and do the same process.

Yes, I even did this with this with the fish.

 All the grease dripped into the bowl. Saving the world's trees 1 drop at a time.

Okay so this hasn't solved all our problems. The addiction and ease of paper products is still there. But I can say happily, through perseverance, we have been paper towel free for 1 month now.

And how do I clean my sliding glass doors?

Newspaper of course!

Of course the paper plates and bowls were a lot easier to stop using. That just took a little bit of will power and resignation that washing dishes just isn't so bad.

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