Earth Day Special: Planet-Friendly Alternatives to Traditional Disposable Paper Products

Traditional disposable paper products make a huge dent in our planetís health. Not only could we easily use fewer of them, itís really not a problem switching to more planet-friendly options for those products we do need to use. Here are three basic ways to be a little more conscientious when it comes to disposable paper products.††

Recycled Brands:

There are numerous brands on the market that make their paper towels, napkins, and tissues from recycled paper products as opposed to freshly-cut trees. One that I had a chance to test drive recently was Marcal. I was able to try both the paper towels and toilet tissue as part of a product sample they sent for my opinion on the product quality. The results? A reasonable quality product, in my opinion. The toilet tissue wasnít too thin and held together, and the paper towels, while not something I use often, worked fine. They werenít the most absorbent paper towels ever, but certainly of better quality than many other brands Iíve tried over the years. I do wish theyíd package their product in a waxed tissue paper wrapping as opposed to plastic. That being said, this is an extremely affordable product line and one of the few eco options for this type of thing available at a price the average consumer can actually afford.


Reusable options exist for things like napkins, cleaning rags and even tissues. While Iíve never been a big fabric handkerchief fan, I do routinely use bandanas and other options for fabric dinner napkins, and cut-up cloth rags to clean countertops, scrub floors and wash dishes. That being said, there is usually a roll of paper towels on hand in the pantry for jobs that are particularly disgusting or greasy. In the end, youíll need to do what works for you. But if you can work in a few more fabric options into your daily routine, it will (at least in my opinion) make more of a positive planetary impact.

The Hybrid Approach:

Realistically, this is what many households are actually able to pull off. With all due respect to No Impact Man, laundering fabric toilet cloths on a regular basis isnít something I really want to take on. Kudos to his family for going there, though. My point is that while most people are willing to go with fabric for a fair bit of the time, there are times when disposable is called for. For example, I donít purchase paper napkins as a rule. That being said, if Iím having a back yard gathering with a large number of people, I donít have a large enough supply of fabric napkins to host that type of event and chances are I wonít buy them. But I will look for a recycled option for the paper napkins that Iíll purchase for that event. Since it only happens once or twice a year, Iím OK with using a two-pronged approach, and grateful that eco options exist when I need them.

Since paper products tend to be a go-to item for outdoor cooking, you may want to add some of these eco-friendly options to your list of present-worthy grilling gifts for the barbecue enthusiasts in your life.

How about you? How often are you able to use fabric over paper when it comes to this type of product? Have you used the brand I mentioned above in your own home, or a different one? What are your every day choices when it comes to balancing paper products with fabric ones for basic household needs?

Photo Credit: Hygiene Matters


  1. [...] Paper and cardboard – much of this can be recycled, although certain coatings and other added materials present a challenge. There are also great alternatives to disposable paper products. [...]

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