by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
Paper towels are handy for cleaning up a milk spill, drying hands, and cleaning the house. Maybe a little too handy.
In 2017, consumers spent $39,203 million on household paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, tissues, etc). Plus, consumer spending went up by $1,958 million over a two-year period, with spending totaling a lesser $37,245 million in 2015. (1)
Let’s look at it another way.
Americans use 741 pounds of paper each year, on average. Nearly 55 of those pounds are for household paper products such as paper towels, napkins, tissues and toilet paper. (2)
That’s a lot of paper products.
As users of so many paper products it’s worth asking, are chemicals found in these products and if so, are there nontoxic alternatives?
Paper products, such as paper towels can contain dyes, inks, fragrances, chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, adhesives, and other chemicals. Here are a few of the specifics:
There are companies that make paper towels with nontoxic ingredients, such as using peroxide instead of chlorine bleach for whitening. Some companies simply leave ingredients, such as dyes and inks out of products. It’s tough to know for sure though.
Manufacturing companies are not required to list ingredients on paper towels, keeping consumers in the dark about the full list of ingredients used to make the product. The next best thing consumers can do is to choose paper towels that say it does not have dyes, fragrances, or bleach in it.
Another option is to ditch the paper towels (nearly) all together, and use fabric towels instead. Limit use of paper towels to cleaning soiled areas, such as toilets. Instead of using paper towels for dusting and wiping surfaces, use rags (old or new!) for cleaning the house.
Hang hand towels in the kitchen and bathrooms for drying hands after washing. Have one or two extra hand towels hand-y (ha!) when entertaining guests so that towels can be changed if they become too wet. When buying new hand towels, choose towels made from organic, natural fabric and dyes plus those without finishes.
Breaking the habit of using so many paper towels (and other paper products) may take a little getting used to but can be a worthwhile change. There’s a potential to reduce the amount of money that the household is spending on paper products, reduce the amount of chemicals in the home, and reduce the poundage of paper products used per year. An all around win!
Curious which specific brands of products our nontoxic living expert, Sophia Ruan Gushée, uses? Register for a free intro to the D-Tox Academy to detox your home and life at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Included a the shopping list of Sophia's household staples.
(1) U.S. Dept of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. https://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=19&step=2#reqid=19&step=3&isuri=1&1921=underlying&1903=2017
(2) Environmental Working Group - Enviroblog. https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2014/04/lets-talk-trash#.Wj2Q7N-nHIU
(3) ATSDR - CDFs. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=937&tid=194
(4) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm205999.htm
(5) Environmental Working Group. https://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-triclosan#.Wj2nfd-nHIV
(6) ATSDR - Formaldehyde. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp111-c1.pdf
(7) Environmental Health Perspectives. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1408989/
(8) Pollution Prevention Resource Center. http://pprc.org/index.php/2012/p2-rapid/bps-as-a-replacement-for-bpa-in-thermal-paper/
Deconstruct to reconstruct your home, purchases, and habits for a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.
Every effort has been made to keep the information on this website accurate and up-to-date. However, this information is provided “as is” without warranty and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your personal physician.
In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee, Ruan Living, or D-Tox Academy be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.
Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Ruan Living & D-Tox Academy in order to help fund our educational work. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is NOT INTENDED or IMPLIED to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Please see a medical professional if you need help with depression, illness, or have any concerns whatsoever. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options.