Most paper products can and should be recycled, but paper towels present problems due to the fibers of which they are made. Learning how to dispose of them properly will divert much waste from landfills and encourage the use of healthy practices like composting, reusing and recycling.
How it Works
Paper towels cannot be recycled the way other paper products can. They are generally already made of recycled paper products, and as the products get reused, the fibers get continuously shorter. Recycling paper towels would also raise concerns of bacteria and food waste, as they are used to clean up messes.
Although paper towels cannot be recycled at most recycling plants, they can be used for composting and creating mulch. Creating and maintaining a compost heap can be a time-consuming process, but will produce cheap, high-quality mulch to use in gardens. Paper towels can be added to compost heaps, as they break down easily and are made of recycled fibers.
Most people throw away paper towels after one use, but they are designed to be sturdy enough for multiple uses. If a towel is not completely saturated or dirty, save it for reuse. Rinse it with water, squeeze the excess water out and hang on a line with a clothespin to dry. Towels that are only used for wiping up dry messes can be saved and reused without rinsing.
Some waste disposal companies will accept paper towels as part of yard waste, as it will break down in this environment. Waste Management, Inc, the country's leading waste disposal company, practices this method of disposal. Check with your local waste disposal provider; if they offer this option, save paper towels and dispose of them with grass clippings and other yard waste.
Composting or reusing paper towels cuts down on landfill waste, where paper towels may not break down. Reusing them saves money and encourages environmental practices, while composting provides a cheap and healthy way to add life to a yard or garden. Because paper towels are already made of recycled fibers, finding ways to recycle and reuse them completes the cycle of an environmentally friendly product and helps cut down on the amount of household waste produced.