What's worse: wasting packaging or wasting water?

You don’t hand-wash/rinse your cloth towels?

Well, I don’t use them for wiping countertops (sponge) or cast iron (put on high heat and reseason slightly - not a fanatic about CI like some). I use them for drying my hands or instead of hot pads.

Then it is the same thing. So instead of your towels absorbing and consuming the water, it is your sponge. I assume that after each use, you let the sponge soaks up new water and squeeze out the dirty content. If you measure it, you may be surprise how much the sponge consumes water.

I squeeze out the sponge in the still at least warm dish water. Toss it in the dish drainer. A few times a year I’ll remember to stick in the DW. As Sam said I live in a magic house :slight_smile:

I use both cloth towels and paper ones, but only cloth napkins at the table for many years now. I toss them into the regular laundry at least weekly; more if we’ve had a messier/greasier meal. I also have a very high efficiency washer. My dish towel is used only for clean dishes and hands washed with soap. I toss those down the basement stairs weekly or a few times a week, depending on how much use or if they’re soiled somehow.

We use paper towels a lot, though.

I also use both. For the cloth, I just tend to use them for relative clean things, like drying my hands or drying an already cleaned cutting board. In a sense, this allows me to reuse the cloth towel. Whereas if I need to wipe a small part of the floor, then I will always use the paper towel. Otherwise, it seems one wipe of the cloth towel on the floor will make it unusable for something else. Of course, I have dedicated cloth towel for certain things like a couple dedicated towels for knife sharpening – simply because this is fairly messy and dirty.

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Having done a lot of research on the cloth/paper side of diapers a few years back (and wow is that a heated topic!) the best evidence there seemed to be that in questions of reusables that require energy and water to wash versus disposables that require energy to produce and landfill space to dispose of, it depends on where you live. If you live somewhere where water is in short supply, then you might be better off with paper and throwing it out. If you live somewhere that landfill space is at a premium, then cloth and washing might be better. As in so many things, it appeared there is no one-size-fits all answer. While people on the either side of the debate feel very passionately and ready to fight for their viewpoint at all costs, there simply may not be a clear right answer.

I would be a little concerned about this. There are some pretty bad chemicals that can be released from heated/melted plastics. I am not an expert, but I might think twice about leaving styrofoam in your microwave.

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Isn’t most of the planet in a state of drought?

The styrofoam doesn’t get hot, the food does, and the food isn’t in direct contact with the tray unless it boils over, which can then melt it. This does not worry me.

Here’s from Harvard:

I read an interesting thing about reusable grocery bags - and how depending on the material, they have to be used a minimum number of times before they become beneficial - sometimes as much as 100 or more times, which may not be likely, or they’d fall apart first. Meanwhile I reuse the plastic ones all the time - for dog poop or to line the bathroom trashcan. I mean I take my reusable ones when I remember or plan ahead, which is…probably less than half the time TBH.

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There are areas where you can no longer get plastic except for the compostable plastic ones in the produce department.

This says most Styrofoam and polyurethane can be microwaved.

It makes perfect sense.

My oldest reusable bags are at least 15 years old. They’ve been used well over 100 times. Not only have they not “fallen apart”; there’s yet to be a rip or tear, despite the fact that I load them up so they are often holding 20#. The zippers on the insulated ones ARE prone to failure unless treated very gently.

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As I understand it, some of them while they look like ‘fabric,’ are in fact made from plastic so I guess I can see that but I’m with you.

I hadn’t even thought about some points mentioned here. Now I’m always scrambling to find something to wash or clean or fill while waiting for hot/cold water. I’m amazed at how much water comes through before it gets hot or cold.

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I buy the big size (2+ quarts, I think) Dawn at Costco. Once emptied, I cut the top off the jug to form a pitcher of sorts. For several fills, the water will still be soapy so can be used to hand-wash delicates, or non-greasy dishes. Once all the residue is gone, I use the water to rinse dishes, pots, and pans. I keep the jug right in the sink, so I don’t forget to use it. There’s also one in the bathroom. Every day, they capture at least 2 gallons of water that would otherwise be wasted.


Some reusable grocery bags are made out of plastic. Let’s exclude other materials for simplistic comparison.

Here is a problem. The thicker reusable bags are steadier and, but also use more materials – therefore they will take many more uses to recuperate the environmental impact. We should able to make a simple comparison between amount of materials used.

I thought this is a nice chart:

After eight uses, not including washing, a reusable plastic bag has a lower environmental impact than a single disposable plastic bag. Numbers given are per 1,000 bags.a
a Except for single-use polyethylene, which is per 1,500 bags to account for their smaller carrying capacity.
SOURCES: California State University, Chico, Research Foundation; Joseph Greene"

Personally, I use the single-use grocery plastic bags for my trash bags, so I have successfully avoid using dedicated trash bags for more than 15 years now.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold