Friday, 12 March 2010

The Cultural Use of Paper

The blogging world is overflowing with all kinds of interesting tidbits for the reader in search of information about almost anything! The other day I was seeking lunch ideas with a specific dietary need in mind and came across Keeper of the Home.

Having read through the information I sought, I decided to come out of the archives and see what this lady is up to right now. Vegie gardening (always exciting)....and writing about cutting down on kitchen waste. Specifically paper towels and serviettes.

And that got me thinking. Is this a wide gap in culture between the US and Australia, I wonder. I use paper towels to dry off a raw chook before roasting and for draining prawn crackers on the rare occasion that I make those. And then I struggle to think of a reason I might use them at all. A roll lasts me quite some months, and according to an American friend, our paper towels are tiny compared to what she was used to. And to further cement my position as a paper-neanderthal we don't use serviettes (or napkins) either. We used a damp face washer for the kids when they were small....if we really needed to. But otherwise we use cutlery and manage to get our food in our mouths without mess. On the rare day that we've been gnawing on chicken bones, we just go and wash our hands.

Over Christmas I was further puzzled when my SIL (who lives in the US) said if she'd stayed here she'd not have begun using paper towel with such abandon. Because, of course, in Australia you just wouldn't do that. Apparently when in Rome, however, you do as the Romans to speak.

So I am left to wonder. Maybe I'm one of a very small handful who use washable cloths for cleaning, but I don't think I am. Most of my friends by-pass this expense in favour of a more cost-effective method of cleaning. In doing so, we end up being environmentally friendly, perhaps without even intending to do so!

I love my Chux Wonder Cloths in the kitchen. They're like the Selley's version, only not so thick. Being a little thinner (but still very robust), they dry over the tap and stay fluffy if they've been rinsed in hot tap water and squeezed out well. For all other cleaning and various messes, we use cloth nappies. I had someone the other day offer to take them off my hands, since we obviously have no use for nappies any longer. But I (or the kids!) use them regularly because we are often mopping up some spill or another. They're worth buying just for that!

What do my fellow Aussie homemakers use?


Left-Handed Housewife said...

I don't know about your fellow Aussie homemakers, but as an American homemaker that I use very few paper towels, though I keep them on hand. We use cloth napkins and I clean with rags. A lot of people I know go through the paper towels with abandon, but it seems awfully wasteful to me.


Rel said...

Trac - you know I'm with you, a fellow wonder cloth user! We only use paper towel when we have pizza and serviettes if we have visitors :) I never ever clean with them so a roll lasts us probably at least 6 months.

Tracy said...

Frances, you've restored my faith in your countrywomen :) I continue to find, in you, a kindred spirit on so many levels!

Kez said...

A roll of paper towel lasts months here too. I can't believe the amount of paper & plastic products that some households use. I actually had a friend in the US that used disposable plates much of the time - I couldn't fathom such a waste of money & resources!