Since I started this "extreme coupon shopping" about a year or so ago, my family has learned that unless something is on sale AND I have a coupon for it, the chance of my buying it are very slim! I try my best not to have to buy something unless those two criterias are met, but of course there are times when I just HAVE to have something that is not on sale. (Such as when I somehow forgot to stock up on toilet paper and we run out and I have to pay full price for it......we can't exactly go without toilet paper now can we!) So....yes, I will go buy what I MUST for full price, but I will moan and groan about it for a week afterwards.......Of course, there are also those items that will rarely ever meet the criteria, such as fresh product and meat. (However, even those items must be at least on sale to get purchased........)
So, when my family went to go sit down for dinner the other night to eat their messy BBQ Chicken, hubby automatically goes to grab some paper towels to pass out for napkins. When the roll was empty, he asked the question about the paper towels not being on sale. I found it funny that he picked this night to ask me about the paper towels since we have not had paper towels or paper napkins in the house in just about a month or so now and the fact that I had just wondered to myself that same day when anyone was ever going to notice - or had they noticed and just not mentioned it.....I simply replied "I don't know, I didn't look because I didn't want to buy any." Hubby quickly responded "Just wondering since we have been out now for several weeks." WOW - the family did notice and just never bothered to ask about them - I assume they didn't mention since they just assumed they had not been on sale! LOL
Now, do not think I have just left my family defenseless and they had to use their sleeves to wipe their mouths and their pants to wipe their hands. I have been placing cloth napkins beside every ones plates now for several weeks. However, most nights I have noticed that after dinner the napkins are still neatly folded by their plates and unused. It is funny how if there are paper napkins or towels, each person will run through 2 or 3 at each sitting to keep their hands and mouths clean, however you put a nice cloth napkin at their plates and I guess they simply did not want to "get them dirty". LOL - You see, I didn't mention to anyone in the family the fact that I was thinking about going paperless. I have found that if I want to try something new out around the house, it is best just to do it and not mention it. It usually seems to go a little smoother that way.
Why am I telling you this story? Well, I am trying to go to a "paperless kitchen". After cutting my grocery bills as much as I can with shopping sales and using coupons, I have started looking at our budget to see in what other ways I could reduce not only wasteful spending, but products that we are simply wasting and can do without. The simplest adjustment I thought we could try first, was to stop using so much paper towels and paper napkins. It seemed we were running through at least one roll of towels per day - clearly someone in the house was eating them since that is the only reason I can think we use so much in a house of 4 people!
So, back in December when we ran out of paper towels and napkins, I simply did not buy any more. I had received some cloth napkins and additional kitchen towels over the holidays and that is what we are now using.
The transition to cloth from paper has not been that difficult, at least not to me. We now have cloth napkins that we use at dinner and then simply toss in the wash. Of course, since my family is scared to dirty them apparently, I have not had to wash them too often. However, since the topic has now been brought up that we have no napkins and that there are actually cloth napkins sitting at everyone's plate, and apparently they have now been given "permission" to use them, I imagine they will start using them more. I guess they thought I was simply putting them on the table for the table to look nice........
I have sponges and dish rags that I use to clean the counters and when we wash our hands in the kitchen, instead of simply grabbing a paper towel to dry our hands, we actually use a Hand Towel - that is what they are for - right?!
When friends and family discover that I was "going paperless", the first question that always arises is "What do you drain your fried french fries and bacon on?" Well, to be honest, I do not fry things in my house for the most part. I bake my french fries (on Pampered Chef stoneware so there is no grease!) and I do not fry bacon (GASP - you live in the South and don't fry bacon?!) When I brown ground meat, I simply dump it in a colandar to drain the grease - no need for a paper towel there either!
In addition to cutting out paper towels and napkins, I have also cut out paper plates. I used to buy these simply because I got tired of coming home to a sink full of dishes when the kids were home after school and seemed to try to dirty every plate and glass in the house before I could get home from work. At one point I threatened to throw out every nice plate, glass and silverware and simply live on paper plates, plastic cups and plastic utensils so they could simply throw out their dishes, but I quickly realized that was just silly. So, I went the total opposite direction. After about 100 meltdowns to coming home to dirty dishes piled everywhere, the kids are now putting their dishes in the dishwasher for the most part - that or they are throwing them away, which I guess would explain the missing dishware...hmmmm.
I hope this encourages you to look at your household use and expenses and see if perhaps you could go paperless too, or cut things in other areas that may simply be a waste.
Please feel free to leave a comment or share your tips or questions about going paperless in your kitchen!