Too Many Paper Towels

I’ve become a semi-bachelor this year when my wife had to take a job out of town.  Because of this new status I have to do my own shopping, and I’ve always hated shopping.  When we first got married over thirty years ago, I volunteered to do the laundry if Susie would do all the shopping.  Learning to shop properly is hard to do, as I’ve discovered late in life.  And with the current climate of shopping to save money while also being green, I feel like I need to buy subscription to Money Magazine, Consumer Reports and The Economist to effectively make a foray to the grocery story.

Susie always bought large bundles of paper towels that we had to squirrel away in all our closets that would take years to use.  Well, the last batch ran out this past week, and since we have a couple of cats that love to groom and puke, paper towels are a necessity.  Of course this could be a green issue.  I could wipe up my feline family member’s hairball regurgitation with a rag that I could wash out, but that’s time consuming and messy, so I take the easy paper route of buying towels.

When I got to the store and the isle with the paper towels I made a troubling discovering – there are dozens of choices.  I didn’t remember which brand Susie bought.  I stood staring at the selection for several minutes not knowing what to do.  I considered asking one of the many women passing by but worried they might have considered my genuine ignorance as feigned male stupidity for a pick up line.  There were so many brands, so many styles, so many patterns, so many bundle choices, and I figured I’d needed a laptop and a spreadsheet to calculate which was the cheapest if I figured for length of roll, number of sheets, number of plies, and number of rolls in a bundle.

And even more confusing was trying to figure out quality.  Some looked pretty cheap and were cheap, and others looked cheap and were not.  And none of them claimed to be good for barf removal from rugs.  I stood there totally befuddled, not knowing what to do when I saw the name “Brawny.”  Hey, I remembered that from the TV, and it sounded manly, and I’m a man, so I figured that was a sign from God.  I bought one roll, thinking I’d give ole Brawny the vomit patrol test.  When my wife got home this weekend, all she said was, “I like the kind that have the half-sheet tears.”  Well, they do clean up after Nick and Nora just fine.

The question now is did I get a good buy?  I have no idea.  I don’t know how much I paid for that Brawny roll.  In my panic to select I didn’t look.   Just now, I jumped on Google and started studying the problem.  First off, I found that there are paper towels promoted as being green because they are made from recycled paper and less chemical processing.  And there’s toilet tissue also made from recycled paper.  This sounds like a no-brainer, so the next time I buy I’m going to look for recycled paper products, but I don’t remember seeing that at my store.  GreenDealsDaily also recommended 100% biodegradable sponges, but that sounded nasty when I imagined how all those cat crunchies expanded with digestive juices would clog up its pores.

There’s lots of confusing information on Google, but after looking at several links, I found Paper Towels and Napkins vs. Cloth.  Melissa Breyer rates various types of cleanup solutions by their friendliness to the Earth.  I’m sold on recycled paper products, but she also makes a good case for cloth napkins and towels

If I go with cloth I’ll have to wash them, but I won’t have to shop for paper towels anymore – a relief that saves money.  I wonder if I can live without them?  Since I hate shopping, this decides the issue for me, and it gets me out of the math of figuring out which paper towels are the best buy.  However, if I spot some of those green recycled paper towels I might buy them to keep for fast cleanups like when I hear the lovely call of a retching cat when I’m trying to run out the door to work.


4 thoughts on “Too Many Paper Towels”

  1. Your piece inspired me, so I decided to start using cloth napkins and kitchen towels instead of paper towels. I managed to last the entire day without suffering any obvious ill effects.

  2. Love the visuals in the shopping aisle, Jim. I also opt NOT to shop for my household. I get just as confused at the choice, but it manifests differently. I’m one of those people who look at the products displayed and think: I haven’t tried that; I wonder what it’s like. or: That would be nice for a change. A shopping expedition that should result in the purchase of four or five items ends up filling an entire trolley and costing heaps more than I expected. I stay away from the shops.

    As far as furballs are concerned: try chicken wings. I give my cat 1/3 of a chicken wing every day. It cleans her teeth and the fat and gristle clean her gut – no barfing in the house – ever.

  3. Is it a cooked chicken wing? Or a chicken wing from Kentucky Fried Chicken?

    Since I’m a vegetarian it will be a learning experience for me to serve chicken wings.

    Also, my cats are weird eaters. They will eat tiny crunchies, but won’t eat canned cat food, but they will lick the gravy off of canned cat food. I get up every morning and put down a couple spoons of cat food in their bowls – I buy the kinds with gravy or sauce, and they lick it clean, and then the next morning I scrap off the dried meat into the disposal. I feel bad about the waste, but that’s all they want.

  4. Definitely raw. I don’t like touching meat so David chops them up for me and usually actually gives them to the cat (Bridgit) – I just supervise. You could probably get your butcher to cut them up small for you so you can train your cats to eat them in stages.

    Cooked bones shatter and can pierce internal bits whereas raw bones go glutinous – that’s the bit that cleans the gut. The chicken wings also have the advantage of reducing hunting outside. I don’t have any lizards, grasshoppers, mice or birds being brought in when Bridgit gets chicken wings.

    Bridgit won’t eat canned food either. That suits me because I don’t like the smell of it. She has small crunchies (she’ll only eat one brand) and the chicken wing each day. She gets 1/3 because she won’t even attempt to eat a whole one – it’s too big for her or something. The 1/3 is the size we’ve found that she’ll eat and it seems to be enough to do the job it’s supposed to.

    Just a bit of trivia: I was vegetarian for about seven years and did some research at the time. Dogs can actually be raised on a vegetarian diet although their teeth get really dirty and need to be cleaned by hand regularly, and without bones to chew they get bored and destructive. Cats can’t be vegetarian. They have to have meat. Without it they have all sorts of developmental and digestive problems.

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