7 Eco-Friendly & Recycled Paper Towels To Mop Up Your Mess
We’re spilling the beans on eco-friendly and recycled paper towels.
Whether wiping up said beans, acting as makeshift plates, polishing mirrors, or keeping your cast iron eco-friendly cookware rust-free, it’s hard to imagine life without this kitchen staple.
Unfortunately, conventional paper towels aren’t so wonderful for the planet.
Besides being single-use and made from trees, they’re often processed with bleach and other chemicals. And if you’re wondering,”Are paper towels recyclable?”, they’re not. Not even clean ones.
This means one household’s paper towel waste can rack up faster than you can say “spill in the microwave”.
No need to throw the towel in, though. There are sustainable alternatives and eco-friendly disposable paper towels that can mop up mess without making a mess of the planet.
But with the percentage of paper towels made from recycled materials still being relatively slim, what paper towels are recycled?
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The Best Eco-Friendly Paper Towels For Conscious Clean-Ups
With biodegradable paper towels made from bamboo and a sugarcane byproduct, Who Gives A Crap brings sustainable single-use options and punchy humor to homes everywhere.
Marley’s Monsters’ 100% cotton cloths are designed to be used again and again. They’re also made in the U.S, and shipped in plastic-free packaging.
If you’re wondering “Where can I buy eco-friendly paper towels?”, read on for the full list of the best sustainable paper towels (or watch the video below for the highlights).
Or to see how we polished it up and for more on paper towel sustainability in general, (un)roll to the bottom of the article.
The Full List Of Sustainable Paper Towels
- Who Gives A Crap | Visit Store
- Reel | Visit Store
- If You Care | Visit Store
- Marley’s Monsters | Visit Store
- Ecologie By Danica | Visit Store
- Papaya Reusable | Visit Store
- Public Goods | Visit Store
1. Who Gives A Crap
About Who Gives A Crap’s Sustainable Paper Towels
Who Gives A Crap’s 2-ply paper towel rolls are tree-free and biodegradable.
Bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane processing, is blended with bamboo to make strong and absorbent paper towels free from added dyes, inks, and scents.
Each double-length roll is shipped carbon-neutral and wrapped individually in plastic-free packaging. This consists of colorful paper ideal for repurposing as zero waste gift wrapping.
As a sustainable alternative to paper towels, they also offer Dream Cloths (Swedish dishcloths) made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cellulose and repurposed cotton.
Thanks to international shipping, they offer all the toilet paper and eco-friendly paper towels UK, US, Canadian, and Australian customers could ever need.
About Who Gives A Crap
Providing eco-friendly toilet paper to the masses, Who Gives A Crap’s subscription service ensures you never run out of the eco-essentials.
50% of every sale goes to charity partners working to provide clean water and healthy sanitation in places that need them most.
For all the dirty details on this mission-based B Corp, listen to our podcast episode with founder Simon Griffiths.
About Reel Paper’s 100% Recycled Paper Towels
Reel is the reel deal for sustainability.
Their biodegradable and compostable Reel recycled fiber paper towels are made in the US from FSC-certified recycled material (with a minimum of 80% post-consumer fiber).
The recycled material is also sourced from North America, making Reel paper towels an ideal option for those looking for 100% recycled paper towels USA.
Available for one-off purchase or via a subscription, all products come in recyclable, plastic-free packaging, paper towels included.
About Reel Paper
On a mission to protect forests, this B Corp uses fast-growing bamboo and recycled paper for its tree-free toilet paper, tissue, and 100% recycled paper towels.
Their freight shipping is carbon-neutral, and they partner with SOIL, a non-profit that provides toilets and ecological waste management solutions to communities in need.
The collected waste is treated, turned into compost, and sold to support projects in Haiti.
3. If You Care
About If You Care’s Sustainable Paper Towels
Using a patented blend of cellulose and non-GMO cotton, If You Care’s zero waste paper towels are processed with mirabilite (a mineral salt) to create a porous, absorbent, and reusable material.
At a rate of one sheet a week, each If You Care roll can replace a whopping 18 rolls of traditional paper towels.
The plastic-free paper towels are packaged in a compostable plastic alternative made from corn starch.
About If You Care
Makers of eco-friendly kitchen and household products over three decades, If You Care started out with unbleached coffee filters.
Their range now includes various eco-friendly kitchen products, including baking cups, cheesecloth, trash bags, and more.
They hold a whole bouquet of sustainability certifications, including FSC, GOTS, and EU Ecolabel.
Also available on Food52 (USA) and Ethical Superstore (UK)
4. Marley’s Monsters
About Marley’s Monsters Eco-Friendly Paper Towel
Bringing some fun to your zero waste kitchen, Marley’s Monsters’ eco-friendly replacement for paper towels comes in a variety of colors, prints, and styles.
Made from single-ply 100% cotton flannel rolled onto a recyclable Kraft cardboard tube, the paper towels naturally cling together.
You can also purchase an Unpaper towel refill (sans the cardboard tube) and roll them onto your existing paper towel holder.
An organic cotton option is available in white or natural.
About Marley’s Monsters
Marching to the beat of their motto, “Live Colorfully, Tread Lightly,” Marley’s Monsters make reusable, eco-friendly products that resist disposable culture.
As well as paper towels, the women-owned brand offers a selection of sustainable kitchen products, including cloth napkins, pan covers, snack bags, scrubbers, and more.
For your zero waste bathroom, they have reusable toilet paper (yes, really!), menstrual pads, cosmetic pads, and washcloths.
Marley’s Monsters is a BRING sustainable business. Products are shipped plastic-free, using recyclable and compostable materials.
5. Ecologie By Danica
About Ecologie By Danica’s Sustainable Alternative To Paper Towels
Authentically made in Sweden using traditional techniques, Ecologie By Danica’s Swedish dishcloths and towels are a fun alternative to conventional paper towels.
The cloths measure 6.5 by 8 inches, and the towels 12 by 10 inches. Both use the same absorbent plant-based material—70% cellulose and 30% cotton discards from the textile industry.
From mountain goats to Monsteras, there are plenty of colorful designs, all screen printed with non-toxic inks.
About Ecologie By Danica
A subset of the home decor company Danica, Ecologie provides attractive alternatives to single-use items including dishcloths, dry mats, beeswax wraps, and bowl covers.
Danica visits its factory partners regularly to ensure high worker welfare standards and is a member of the Climate Smart program, taking steps to reduce GHG emissions at all stages of its operations.
Orders are shipped in eco-friendly packaging with no unnecessary fillers.
A percentage of Ecologie’s profits goes to Education Without Borders, providing educational opportunities and activities to children in South Africa and North America.
6. Papaya Reusables
About Papaya Resuable’s Sustainable Paper Towels
Papaya’s fun and funky take on the Swedish dishcloth absorbs up to 15 times its own weight in water. That means each one replaces about 17 paper towel rolls.
Available for one-off purchases or on subscription, they also come with a hanging hook to make the transition from disposable to sustainable easy-peasy papaya squeezy.
About Papaya Reusables
On a mission to make zero waste cleaning all the rage, female-founded Papaya specializes in one product: their environmentally friendly paper towels.
You’ll find plenty of hot tips on their website, so you know exactly how to use and care for them.
If you need further convincing, check out the hundreds of 5-star customer reviews.
7. Public Goods
About Public Goods’ Biodegradable Paper Towels
Made from non-GMO certified bamboo and sugarcane, Public Goods’ Tree Free Paper Towels are stronger and more sustainable than their conventional counterparts.
With no inks, dyes, or fragrances and processed without chlorine bleach, what you see is what you get with these 100% biodegradable paper towels.
About Public Goods
One of our favorite ethical alternatives to Amazon, Public Goods is a one-stop shop for eco-friendly home and personal care essentials.
The minimalist packaging design, transparent product information, and carbon-neutral shipping provide an easy, fuss-free eco-friendly shopping.
By planting a tree with every order via Eden Reforestation Projects, recycling and repurposing personal hygiene products with Clean The World, and regularly donating products to St. Mary’s Food Bank in New Jersey, Public Goods is doing the public (and planet) a lot of public good.
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Why Choose Paper Towels That Are Eco-Friendly?
We already noted they aren’t recyclable (nor should you flush paper towels!), but are paper towels biodegradable?
For the most part, yes, and they’re compostable, too—although we would always opt for unbleached paper towels where possible to ensure no chemicals contaminate your compost.
But when we’re talking about a zero waste kitchen and household, ingredients matter—and as it so happens, traditional paper towel “ingredients” aren’t so eco-friendly.
Most paper towels are made out of virgin tree material (contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss), tree-free paper towels (such as bamboo paper towels) are the way to go—unless they’re made from recycled material.
Are recycled paper towels better?
Recycled paper towels give old materials a new life or repurpose industry byproducts that would otherwise be discarded.
Recycled paper products are most eco-friendly option as far as disposables go. Yet because the recycling process still involves energy, water, and in some cases, chemicals, reusable products will always be the most sustainable choice.
How We Chose The Best Sustainable Paper Towels
First, what are sustainable paper towels?
Single-use products aren’t the most sustainable option, especially if there is a reusable alternative readily available.
Some sustainable, green alternatives to traditional paper towels include DIY rags (ideal if you’ve been wondering what to do with old clothes) and reusable paper towels like Swedish dishcloths.
For when you want the convenience of disposable, tree-free or recycled paper towels are the next best option.
For both eco-disposables like eco-friendly paper hand towels and reusable options, we used the following criteria for wiping up mess without wiping out the planet.
Materials matter and compostable ingredients are king (or queen). We looked for natural materials that could get the job done, i.e. soak up spills, without littering landfill.
Natural materials do, however, need to be sustainably grown and sourced. For disposable towels, tree-free is best to prevent deforestation.
Are bamboo paper towels eco-friendly?
In an eco-friendly nutshell, yes, provided they have been harvested and processed sustainably. Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable resource that doesn’t rely on chemical inputs.
Even better than using virgin plant material is using an industry byproduct such as sugarcane or recycled materials, including post-consumer waste.
What recycled materials are used in paper towels?
Recycled paper towels are usually made from post-consumer recycled paper. To avoid any greenwashing claims, the best recycled paper towels use recycled material that is FSC-certified.
Other materials on the rise are repurposed industry byproducts like sugarcane, and for reusable cloths, recycled cotton.
- Certifications: Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), EU Ecolabel
Carbon commitments & green practices
We look for brands taking tangible steps to cut their GHG emissions through practices that include: sourcing local materials, using renewable energy, using carbon offset programs for unavoidable emissions, and using compostable, plastic-free paper towel packaging.
Community & charitable giving:
Whether donating to charity partners or using their business as a platform for environmental education, brands that give back help make the world a better place.
Final Thoughts On Paper Towels That Are Recycled & Sustainable
Whether you want a sustainable alternative to paper towels or an eco-friendly disposable, there are earth-friendly paper towel options for everyone.
Just make sure to save those cardboard tubes for makeshift telescopes—who says that being sustainable can’t be fun?
One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable is only to consume as much as you need to, so taking steps to reduce your toilet paper and paper towel waste will go a long way toward reducing your household’s carbon footprint—so all aboard the zero waste toilet paper train!
While you’re on a roll, share this list with your eco-minded peers and help them find the most eco-friendly paper towels for planet-friendly mop-ups.