Over a year ago we wanted to change the environmental footprint in our kitchen and make it smaller. This came about when I began to notice how many kitchen trash bags went into the dumpster each week. What was in those trash bags anyway? The first thing I noticed was the amount of discarded paper towels that were in there. Rethinking our use of them, we now rinse out the ones we’re using instead of getting a fresh paper towel each time and hang it on a rack near my sink to dry. Yes, you do have to purchase the more expensive stronger ones, but we feel it’s worth it. I’ve found I can re-use this same towel on average three times before it begins to fall apart. Then I finish the towel off by wiping up the floor with it. We also take pains to use one paper towel sheet at a time and not just rip off two or three at a time. We have gone from one roll of towels every 1 – 1 1/2 weeks or so to one per month or longer. Al has gone from a major waster to using one or two sheets a week.
Newspapers were another issue. Now we save the papers to lay down in our garden pathways. We cover them with manure, then leaves, and lastly pine bark mulch. This is done in the fall and by the end of the following summer, it has broken down and we have great humus for our garden beds.
Another item I noticed was the amount of plastic wrap we were using. And yes, plastic wrap is very convenient, but think of the landfill issues. I began to look for alternatives to plastic wrap, and it amazed me just how brainwashed I was to thinking that it had to be something similar to plastic wrap. There were several alternatives right in my cabinets: parchment paper, wax paper, linen cloth towels, mason jars, glass pyrex cookware with the glass lids, bowls with a kitchen plate on top, two plates inverted, and glasses or bowls with a piece of parchment paper secured with a rubber band or twine.
Then we attended a homestead fair in Williamstown, SC, and came across a vendor selling beeswax wrappers. These are pieces of cloth in various sizes that have been covered with beeswax, rosin, and jojoba oil. We bought a basic assortment package to try them out. I was very impressed. They seal very well by the heat of your hand and are easy to clean (lukewarm water and a little dish detergent), and they last about a year. The only thing they are not good for is wrapping raw meat. The reason is bacteria on the wrap would need hot water to clean which you cannot do with the beeswax . I also froze my bread with them and it worked really well, too.
And the number of trash bags in the dumpster? It has been cut in half.