Choice is reviewing paper towels and more

My question is WHY? We are supposed to be moving away from being wasteful. There is nothing wrong with using rags.

Paper towels are expensive.

Onto my Peanut Butter rant

Peanut butter is cheap to make. Peanuts lightly roasted to release the oils. blender and in a few minutes you have fresh peanut butter… Buying jars is wasteful. No proof that they are recycled. Plus carbon foot print.

Home made tastes so much better. I roast/cool/blitz around 300 g of nuts and in less than 5 minutes I have a jar of fresh peanut butter. The commercial one used to sit there until oil was floating on top. Home made one taste fresh and when finished another nut butter is made.
Oh and peanut butter gluten claim? have people finally lost the plot?

The taste tasters need to be replaced. The best peanut butter on the list is not recommended.


Anything make your self is better. To many foods are overly processed for convenience. Frozen food is the worst at replicate.

i make it all from scratch these days. Don’t get anything from the freezer. Organic Cauliflower is expensive but

  1. One large head lasts 2 weeks in the crisper
  2. It’s covered in leave and leaves and core are food.
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I’d not wipe down a kitchen bench with what I call rags. Likewise use a rag rather than paper towel to cover the frozen bread roll being thawed in the microwave.

Which paper towel is the best is a very appropriate review.

We purchase locally grown and seasonal as first preference. The carbon footprint of any alternative including organic if not local is likely a poor second. Nothing to do with paper towel.


Yes really!!

There are tea towels, to be used. You can wipe a bench top and dry the rag (old tea towel/ old linen) dry it and throw it in the wash…

Thawing in the microwave? really?

PS. I do not get my organic produce from Supermarket. I get it directly from the farmer. That means local.


Yes, I often wonder how we managed without. Best electrical appliance ever. Far more energy efficient than firing up an oven or stove top. Especially for one. Also worth the saving in time.

The alternative of using energy and water to wash tea towels - not rags on a daily basis seems counter productive. Especially when the water comes from one’s own roof. Water is precious. Paper towel once used mostly goes to our compost, hence it is assured of being recycled. Much of the similar waste that goes in the recycling bin is actually burnt to make money for the so called waste recycling business.

Of the items most difficult to recycle used rags and tea towels are the more difficult. Hence they are not accepted in the recycling bin! Hospitals incinerate theirs at high temperature just to be sure.

In practice is paper towel any more sustainable than cotton or synthetic fibre based rags, tea towels or cleaning cloths? I suspect none are considering they all have a cost in water, energy and carbon to produce. Only one ‘paper towel’ is able to be conveniently returned to the environment. It’s worth
serious consideration.


There are situations where I am not using a cloth because that cloth would become too dirty to use again and so you would be using many cloths for each meal.

For example, drying a chicken (or chicken pieces) and the bench where chicken blood or juice has been spilt. If you re-use that cloth you are spreading around a fine culture medium for bacteria and in some cases a good load of bacteria too.

Another case is a greasy baking pan. You can drain the bulk of the fat into a bottle but then the fatty residue either goes into the washing up water, and so down the drain, using up more detergent and loading the AWTS more, or it has to be wiped up. Using a cloth makes more washing and uses more washing powder and water and loads the AWTS too. Paper grows on trees, and we can plant more trees, and it goes into the compost.

As Mark pointed out using many cloths has its own environmental costs. The obvious solution to environmental problems is not certain to be the best overall.


I use paper towels around the kitchen too to save on soaking, washing, disinfecting, heavily soiled cloth tea towels.
But, any paper towel that’s been contaminated with blood, chemicals,
or any fatty substance, shouldn’t really go into the compost or the recycling bin.


We use paper towel and when finished with it, it goes in the FOGO bin and is eventually converted to mulch by the council.

If you don’t have a FOGO bin or wish to use one, then household composting works.

Rags can be not the best choice as many nowadays are made with added petrochemical fibres added eg polyester. Pure cotton or cellulose rags can be very hard to come by, as can other purely organic fibres eg wool, alpaca wool and so on.


I caused a meltdown of epic proportions.

  1. Cotton can be composted! Silk, wool, cashmere, hemp, bamboo, and linen clothing can also be composted. When you compost, you are turning these fabrics back into soil that can grow vegetables, fruits, and other plants. This is the best possible option for the environment.

  2. Linen is one of the most biodegradable and stylish fabrics in fashion history. It is strong, naturally moth resistant, and made from flax plant fibres, so when untreated (i.e. not dyed) it is fully biodegradable. It’s natural colours include ivory, ecru, tan and grey.

Defrosting benchtop works.

Rags are old towels and sheets. Money saved. Most of paper towels are made from trees. Choice panelists did not like bamboo tea towels.

Trees take decades to grow to a stage where they can be cut down and made into your paper towels.

No one fires up an oven unless they use wood and fire. No one in Sydney is using wood fire ovens unless it’s a restaurant.

Bless. I don’t need a FOGO bin even though I have one as I hardly have any left overs. Almost all of the produce is edible.

  1. Potato peel is edible.
  2. Carrot peel is edible
  3. Carrots that have seen their best day but still good are edible.
  4. herbs that are starting to look sad are edible.
  5. Cauliflower leaves and stalk are food
  6. Orange peel is food.
  7. All parts of celery are food.
  8. Tomato peel is food.

I can go on but if I do you will not learn anything .

Not that I noticed, I thought it was a small diversion from reviewing paper towel.

OK but what about the cost of washing them in terms of money or in resources used, should we just forget about that?

True. By definition wood is renewable as is cotton or flax. To decide on choosing one or the other we need to look at the total cost of the option not just how fast the material grows.


Do you count the cost of doing your laundry?

I am suggesting if you want to make environmental decisions you need to take into account all the resource costs for the life of the product/process not just the money, so whether I cost my laundry is not important.


Use good quality detergent, use cold water

Not at all. Principles are important.
Does what delivers the best most practical outcome for one need to be exactly the same for all?
It may be easier to seek understanding of why we do things differently? The outcomes may turn out the same.

I’ve occasional used paperbark naturally shed from any one of the hundred or so trees in the back yard. Add a little water from one of the frog ponds and use them to clean the food bowls filled to attract the locals to the trail camera/s. It’s quick and convenient. I’m still left with a small environmental mess as a result. Nothing is perfect.

Best possible is not to free the carbon in the first place. A more complex discussion concerning the finite carbon holding capacity of the natural environment, or ability of offsets to deliver a true net reduction in free carbon.

I’ve been known to fire up the wood stove, guilt free if one has the resources. At least recycling the carbon is within our control, and not some sham offset down the road. One size does not fit all?

We’ve also Solar PV on the roof which for the present produces slightly more than we consume.


I don’t peel potatoes, I leave the skin on. I don’t peel tomatoes, I use old carrots and do not peel them, I use stems and leaf of cauliflower (as well as stems and leaf of other brassica), I use old herbs, I also dry excess herbs, I don’t eat oranges nor grapefruit but I do preserve excess lemons. I dehydrate many foods when they are cheap enough. I could also go on but I make my choices based on what I think is best for the environment and me. I appreciate that you share your opinion as that makes the Community vibrant.


You must have a very dirty kitchen if you need to soak, ash, and disinfect your raga,

I bought a pile of microfibre “raga” for practically nothing and just was them with my regular washing,

I’m 80 years old hand have never suffered for contamination of any description.

Incidentally frozen food such as chicken should be defrosted slowly, preferably in the refrigerator to avoid getting food poisoning.

Do you have a source for that statement? My understanding is that it has nothing to do with the defrosting time but to do with the time between being defrosted and cooked - quick defrosting as done with a microwave starts the cooking process. If then left partially cooked it could allow bacteria to grow. Defrosting in the fridge does not start the cooking process.

If [chicken] is defrosted in the microwave and immediately cooked there should be no worries. An authoritative resource on defrosting is

That will work but quick defrosting will also work provided it is never left lying around at room temperature or warm. Raw chook should be stored frozen or cold below 5C, or cooked and hot above 60C, not in between.

The many references to not defrosting on the kitchen bench etc aim to stop chook sitting in the temperature danger zone. Defrosting in the fridge is just one solution to the problem. Microwaving and then cooking immediately is another.

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