As a part of our family's commitment to sustainable living, Eco cloths became a staple in our kitchen and household in recent years as they are a sustainable replacement for the disposable paper towel that we relied upon for years.
It’s an initiative that we believe helps to lessen our impact on the earth and protect the planet’s natural abundance for future generations.
Eco cloths have even become a unique way for us to support and protect hard-working pollinators, such as the beloved honey bee. Proceeds from every sale of our locally designed and manufactured eco cloths go towards helping The Pollinator Partnership Canada organization.
As with all of our sustainable-living initiatives, switching to eco cloths didn’t just happen over night. Today, we’d like to share our journey of adopting a paper towel free home and farm.
The History & Environmental Impact of Paper Towels
Paper towels have been a staple in many households for a long time. They were first made in 1879 and were largely viewed as the perfect solution to prevent the spread of germs, viruses and bacteria. However, despite the product’s good intentions, some of the facts behind this product's ecological impact are shocking.
For instance, it’s estimated that for every ton of paper towels manufactured, an average of 17 trees are cut down and approximately 20,000 gallons of water is required during the production process.
Additionally, while a large portion of used paper towels can be composted, approximately 254 million tons of discarded paper towels end up in landfills across the globe each year! That waste also contributes to the formation and release of harmful greenhouse gasses impacting climate change.
Other ways paper towels negatively impact the environment include:
- Major manufacturers of paper products primarily rely on virgin forest fibers instead of using recycled fiber.
- Used paper towels cannot be recycled.
- Paper towels contain harmful chemicals such as bleach, formaldehyde and dioxins.
- Paper towel packaging is largely a form of single-use, non-recyclable plastic film.
Yikes. As a family, we too used our share of disposable paper towels over the years. That is, until one day we removed the paper towel holder from the kitchen and we refused to buy them ever again.
Journey to Eco Cloth Use
Turning our backs on paper towels left a need in our home that had to be filled quickly. After all, what do you reach for when there is a sudden spill, or something yucky needs to be wiped up off the floor? When you have an active family and pets running around your home, being able to attend to wet-messes quickly is a necessity!
In the beginning we tried having extra rags or cloths on hand to replace the duty of the paper towel and that worked well, except for one big thing. The material in kitchen cloths or rags just doesn't dry quickly and inevitably harbors bacteria. This in turn causes odors and is problematic for spreading bacteria on the counters when wiping them.
The Swedish Eco Cloth: A Welcome Discovery
I researched for some time for a product that could replace paper towel and be convenient, sustainably produced, and sourced locally. We tried various things until we discovered the magic in the cellulose sponge cloth; better known as the Swedish Cloth.
The Swedish cloth is typically sold as a thin, square sponge that’s available in all sorts of cute patterns and colours. This household essential was developed in 1949, by the Swedish engineer Curt Lindquist and is composed of 70% cellulose and 30% cotton.
The reason these sponges have become so popular and commonly known as “eco cloths” is because of their ability to be produced sustainably and replace paper towels.
Ecological and Household Benefits of Cellulose Cloths
When looking to replace paper towels with eco cloths in your home, knowing the following benefits may help you feel even better about your decision:
- A single eco cloth can replace up to 17 rolls of paper towel. Imagine the savings on your grocery bill by not having to purchase paper towels again? We certainly like it!
- An eco cloth is able to absorb up to 15x its weight in water, making its absorbency more than that of paper towels.
- Eco cloths are washable, drop them in the washing machine or top rack of the dishwasher and let them air dry.
- Dries quickly after use.
- One eco cloth lasts about 9 months.
- Each cloth is compostable and fully biodegradable.
Millstone Farm’s Eco Cloth is Born!
Adapting to eco cloth use in our home has been such a game-changer in our lives when it comes to cleaning and doing dishes. We’re so convinced that every home can benefit from them that we have designed our very own, which we call an Eco Cloth. It is a plant-based cloth made of wood cellulose and cotton and each cloth replaces over 15 rolls of paper towel and lasts for 9 months or more.
An Eco Cloth replaces paper towels, sponges and fabric cloths; it is compostable and completely biodegradable; it breaks down in soil without a trace.
How Does an Eco Cloth Work?
The cloth starts out dry and works when wet. You simply dampen it and watch it become a sponge cloth that absorbs twenty times its weight when wet. And another awesome detail...they are washable and reusable. To cleanse them, simply place your used Eco Cloth on the top rack of the dishwasher or in the washing machine. Once washed just lay them over the sink or counter and they will air dry quickly.
As they are made of mostly wood cellulose, they air dry quickly and therefore do not grow bacteria like traditional towels and dishcloths. This also means they don’t smell!
Family Designed and Locally Produced
Our Eco cloth is as local as you can get with our daughter Katrina, a professional designer, creating the adorable and attractive images. These designs are then screen printed right here in Victoria, at RainCoast Printers.
Currently, we have five cheery and farm-inspired patterns to choose from in our store. These include:
So how do our Eco Cloths protect the Bees and preserve our life?
Our Eco Cloth & Pollinator Partnership Connection
As farmers, we are acutely aware of our unyielding need for pollinators to grow food. Did you know that every third bite of food we consume is because a Bee or other pollinator has helped?
It’s true, and without the Bees and all their hard work at pollinating we would be challenged to grow much food. Areas where pollinators are in decline must rely on artificial pollination practices to grow fruit, vegetable, and other pollination-dependent crops we rely on for food and nutrition.
As our knowledge of the need to protect pollinators grew, so too did our desire to take meaningful action. Our growing desire to support and protect Canada’s pollinators inspired us to design the Bee & Flower pattern for use as our first Eco Cloth.
We aslo decided we needed to donate 10% of sales from every single Eco Cloth at Millstone Farm to The Pollinator Partnership Canada organization. They do amazing work in protecting the pollinators and educating us all on how we can help the Bees.
Millstone Farm’s Eco Cloth: The Ultimate Multi-Tasker
Every home needs good staples that can serve multiple purposes and be re-usable. This mentality allows us to better embrace zero-waste living as well as cut costs on consumable, disposable products that are harming our environment and our wallets.
For instance, we can purchase baking ingredients in re-fillable containers, pack store-bought goods in organic cotton tote bags, or replace paper napkins with linen ones. And, we can also rely on Eco Cloths to serve as the ultimate household multi-tasking tool! They can clean the dishes, disinfect our kitchen counters, or be used anywhere else in the home that needs wiping.
To purchase Eco Cloths for your home, and to explore all of our sustainable living products, visit our online shop. If you sign up for our monthly newsletter, you’ll also receive 10% off your first purchase.