In Praise of the Cotton Kitchen Towel (And Other Ways to Go Green in the Kitchen)

An unsung hero in the kitchen, the all-cotton dish towel is hardworking, versatile and (if they're Coyuchi kitchen towels) beautiful, too. Here are just some of the ways we like to use them.

You wash, I'll dry: Our kitchen towels are soft and gentle on dishes and glassware. Organic cotton, minimally processed, makes them exceptionally absorbent  and easy on the planet, too. And mopping up water or drying your hands with a re-usable cotton towel instead of paper towels is one of the easiest ways to green your kitchen. It takes 17 trees to make one ton of paper towels, and in the US we throw away some 3,000 tons of them a day…that's 51,000 trees! Every day!

Hey there, hotstuff: A folded kitchen towel makes a handy trivet to protect tabletops from the warmth of serving bowls and platters. And we don’t know a single chef who hasn't used one as an impromptu oven mitt (just be careful around open flames, and remember cotton can scorch and discolor at high temps).

Make a splash: Tuck a towel into your waistband or collar to act as an apron while cooking or baking. Spread one under the mixing bowl to catch drips and splatters as you beat and whisk.

Dough-re-me: Drape a kitchen towel over the top of the bowl when you're proofing dough to keep it from drying out. Line the bread basket with a towel and lap the ends over the top to keep baked goods warm at the table. You can even store a loaf of bread wrapped in a clean, dry cotton towel (instead of plastic) to help keep it fresh.

Serve and protect: Layer kitchen towels between platters, to protect from scuffs and chips as you stack them on the shelf. Fold and drape one over the inner rim of the sink to pad the edge when you're washing something large and unwieldy like a turkey platter or grill grates.

Last but not leaf: Use a cotton towel to dry herbs and salad greens and help keep them fresh and crisp. Just lay the leaves in a single layer on the towel after washing and spinning, then roll the towel up gently and set it in the refrigerator. If you won't be using the greens that day, you may want to place the rolled towel inside a produce bag, but leave top open a bit so moisture can escape.

 

Other ways to go green in the kitchen:

– Use glass containers to store food in the refrigerator instead of disposable plastic.

– Buy unbreakable, reusable dinnerware for kids, parties and outdoor dining instead of using paper plates and plastic cups.

– Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.

– Shop at stores where produce is not wrapped or packed in plastic and styrofoam. Better yet, shop at your local farmers market.

– Stash cloth tote bags in your trunk or bike basket, so you can say no thanks to both paper AND plastic.

– Recycle (and remember, if you aren’t buying products made from recycled material, you're not really recycling).

– Compost peels, trimmings, eggshells, coffee grounds and other food waste.

– Look for earth-friendly cleaning products, and get to know the myriad wonders of white vinegar (it's a surface cleaner, a deodorizer AND a salad dressing!)

– Be a locavore and eat with the seasons. Not only is locally grown, in-season food fresher, more nutritious and better tasting, its short trip from the farm to your fridge means less fuel was used and less pollution generated along the way.

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