Going Paper-Free (or At Least Pretty Close)

For the last few years, I have toiled away at attempting this zero-waste lifestyle I kept seeing on my ‘Gram and around the Internet. These people make it look so easy, I thought to myself, eyes narrowed, while looking at yet another perfectly edited trash jar photo.

I decided to take it upon myself to be somewhat zero-waste, with an exceeding amount of bright eyed-ness and a go get ‘em attitude… all of which came to an abrupt stop when I found myself going overseas. While I did my best to have as little packaging in my lifestyle (my beauty recommendations here), the truth is that trying to be zero-waste is nearly impossible. But reducing your waste – totally plausible if you get creative!

Coming back the States, I renewed my nearly zero-waste lifestyle goals, with a focus on paper products in the home. This is how I have approached different items!

Bye, Napkins!

Getting rid of the need to constantly buy paper napkins was #1 for me, partly because my abuela’s house always had cloth napkins growing up, and also… cloth napkins are super classy. Right? Right. It also felt totally unnecessary to have paper napkins around, especially if the only people who might ‘share germs’ are related to each other or married. If you have a giant party once in a while, okay, paper napkins start to seem kind of reasonable (I have inconclusive opinions on this, for the moment). But at home, day to day? Nope. Cloth napkins.

We use wooden clothes pins to label our napkins.

I got this set of 6 napkins made from flour sacks on Etsy, and they have been perfect for just me and the hubby, and when we have a couple of guests. We have yet to run out of napkins before laundry day, as we ourselves reuse the same cloth napkins for a couple of days or more at a time.

Something I am still working out the kinks of in washing the cloth napkins is removing stains (we love tumeric and curries), but that is a work in progress. Other than that, I love being on that cloth napkin life 😎

Paper Towels, Shmaper Towels!

You read that right… paper towels are now becoming a thing of my past! Huzzah!

I live in a small space that gets damp really easily, so buying rolls of paper towels and keeping them mold-free is less than ideal. Not to mention, paper towel absorbency is basically nothing compared to… cloth paper towels! After much research, I decided to splurge on a 6-pack of Unpaper Towels from Marley’s Monsters. At $16, I didn’t mind making the jump, though if you are serious about making this change, I would recommend getting the 12- or 24-pack. You’ll get more bang for your buck!

My favorite part of my unpaper towels are the happy little avocados!

*Disclaimer: I do still keep one roll of paper towel around for engine maintenance, as it is more effective for catching oil and ensuring oil doesn’t end up in the river (I live in a boat). I suppose rags could do the same job, but we don’t have a ton of clothes to make rags from!*

Coffee Filters and Tea Bags… What Are Those?!

While I personally don’t drink coffee, my husband loves the stuff. This was an easy habit for us to cultivate, because while living overseas the last couple of years, we simply didn’t have coffee filters. We brewed coffee the way the locals did – boiling water with fresh ground coffee in a plastic pitcher. We had to wait for the grounds to drop to the bottom, and even then, we would get a mouthful.

In the USA, we decided to get bougie, and got our hands on my family’s cowboy coffee maker, pictured below:

The elephant mug? Mine. And yes, it is super cute.

It perculates coffee similarly to how a French press or Italian coffee maker might work. But a tad more rustic and very campy – campy is kind of our style.

When it comes to tea, my favorite breakfast drink, I tend to gravitate toward loose leaf options (which seem less popular nowadays?!). I brew my tea Chinese style, pouring boiled water over the loose leaves in a mug, and as the tea steeps, letting the leaves drop to the bottom. I know not everyone likes have the leaves in there, so there is such a thing as reusable tea balls that will give you the American experience of drinking tea!

Can’t read tea leaves if they are in a bag! #ProfessorTrelawney

That’s all… for now!

In future posts, I will write a bit more about reducing waste in your day-to-day life, in ways that are realistic and totally approachable. While I can’t boast about all my trash for the last month fitting in a jar, I can help you think outside the box, and find your own solutions for reducing waste.

Until next time,


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