April editor’s letter

I hate paper towels.
I buy two rolls each year, just before Thanksgiving. With more meals being prepared by more hands in the kitchen, I bow down to the handiness of these earth crushing rectangles of convenient absorbency. The two rolls last until February or so. Then, it’s back to using dish clothes, towels and sponges to wipe down and clean up. I find paper bags work fine to absorb bacon grease and there’s nothing better than newspaper for washing windows.
So, when my sweet sister-in-law visited from New Jersey a few months ago, she busied herself in the kitchen making tea and asked where my paper towel was. My husband glanced up, smiling, knowing what was about to go down. “We don’t use paper towel,” I said matter of factly.
“WHAT? What do you mean? You’re out?” She didn’t believe me and continued to open cupboard doors, looking under the sink and moving the toaster and coffee maker as if I’d hid a bulking roll of Bounty in a fun kitchen game.
I explained that it’s just something we do.
I could see the distaste and confusion wash across her face. “How do you keep your kitchen clean? You can’t just use sponges and towels. Come on, Sue!”
My husband put the newspaper down to watch.
Standing in my bright, germ-free, scrubbed down kitchen, I calmly explained that not using paper towel is something small and easy we can do to cut down our already sprawling carbon footprint. All this was received with doubt and disbelief as she shook her head, eyes darting around the room in search of an omniscient roll.
We took a long glorious walk on the BeltLine and had BBQ at Auburn Street Market, stopping at Publix for allergy meds (we have cats) before heading home. She came out with pills and a double roll of big fat bright white paper towels. Not even the recycled kind. My head nearly popped off, but instead I laughed until I cried. Nobody else did.
She unpacked the beasts, putting both on the counter. I tried to ignore them, but they were just so disgustingly gigantic and unnecessary.
We had a great visit and I hope they will come again soon. When they do, I won’t be surprised if she packs her own paper towel. I can only hope it’s the recycled kind. But, I won’t count on it.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll do something small to recycle or reuse on Earth Day, April 22. And every day.