Clean, white, absorbent paper towels are a mainstay in most kitchens, but they come at an environmental, if not financial, cost. In the US, much of the fiber likely comes from boreal forests in Canada… mature trees cut down for the purpose. While some fiber may have been recycled or come from logging byproducts, by one estimate some 44% comes from mature trees. Tropical forests are in the news and crucial in absorbing carbon, but boreal forests in the sub-Arctic are far more extensive and absorb almost twice as much carbon (703 vs 375 gigatons) as tropical ones. So instead of reaching for a paper towel and promoting more logging, reach for a reusable and washable cloth, or when we have to use paper towels, buy ones high in recycled content. Ask that unbleached toweling be carried at our grocery stores to reduce environmental effects of unnecessary chlorine.
–St. John’s Care of Creation Group.