Swapping Paper Towels for Swedish Dishcloths

Swedish dishcloths are a sustainable alternative to reducing your paper towel usage.

Swedish dishcloths are a sustainable alternative to reducing your paper towel usage. Image: Pixabay

Did you know that America uses the most paper towels in the world? Swedish dishcloths are an easy-to-implement replacement.

America uses over 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year, which continues to rise. While these paper towels can be composted, most are thrown into landfills. Over 6,500,000 tons of paper towels are sent to landfills yearly. What’s worse is the decay of paper products produces methane gas which is more environmentally damaging than carbon dioxide. It takes 17 trees and more than 20 000 gallons of water to make one ton of paper towels. That is a lot of paper towels, a lot of waste and a lot of resources needed for a single-use product. To add to the problem, most paper companies make their paper towels from virgin paper. This means that no recycled content is used to make a product that is thrown away after just one use. Not to mention all the packaging paper towels come in and the carbon costs associated with transportation.

What is the alternative to our dependence on paper towels? Europeans have been using a sustainable version for many years and are only becoming more popular in other parts of the world. Swedish dishcloths are eco-friendly cleaning cloth that replaces sponges and paper towels. They were invented in 1949 by engineer Curt Lindquist who created absorbent squares made of plant-based cellulose and cotton.

Swedish dishcloths are just as effective as paper towels but less wasteful. A Swedish dishcloth absorbs more water than its weight, and a single cloth can replace 17 rolls of paper towels. A pack of 10 dishcloths will last an average user for over one year for all their cleaning needs. Compared to a traditional dishrag which attracts bacteria, a Swedish dishcloth dries very quickly, making it almost impossible for bacteria and germs to grow on the surface.

A single Swedish dishcloth can be reused up to 50 times. They can be cleaned in the washing machine, on the dishwasher’s top rack, and boiled or microwaved to be sterilized. Once the dishcloths have reached the end of their lives, they can be composted in your backyard. And unlike your standard white paper towel, Swedish dishcloths come in various designs printed using cellulose and cotton water-based ink, making you appreciate it more than a traditional paper towel.

Swedish dishcloths are a sustainable alternative to reducing your paper towel usage. If you want to make the switch and still have a supply of paper towels, hold onto them for extreme messes. Store the paper towels in an inconvenient place but the Swedish dishcloths in a convenient spot to make it easy for you to reach for the reusable towels before anything else.

As Swedish towels become more popular, we might see a reduction in the demand for paper towels which would minimize our landfill waste and excessive resource use.

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