We don't use paper products in the kitchen much. One-use items--like paper plates, napkins, and towels--consume trees and contribute to our country's landfill woes. Instead, I use 100% cotton flat-weave tea towels for drying dishes and countertops. Cloth napkins make an appearance at every meal, even the most casual.
These beautiful, sturdy linens are easy to find, from places as pricey as Williams-Sonoma to as economical as Target. Even grocery stores sell them:
But eventually, cloth toweling gets torn and/or stained:
I don't toss them out, though. Because they are lint-free, cotton towels and napkins make great cleaning rags. To tell at a glance which are now rags and which are still for dishes, I mark worn-out linens with a permanent laundry pen:
This helps my cleaning lady, too--she doesn't have to worry that she's somehow grabbed a dish towel to clean the bathroom:
Mu Shu seems to approve of the system:
It's just one more thing that won't clutter our groaning landfills, any time soon!