A few years ago at a weekend away with friends, the conversation took a turn towards the mundane. Someone had made a mess and was using an ineffectual rag to mop it up—-a reusable cellulose thing that was floppy and smelled faintly of mold. “You know,” my friend said, watching our other pal as her ineffective ministrations pushed the mess around, “if she had a Viva paper towel, this would be clean in no time.”
To clarify, this is absolutely not sponsored content for Viva paper towels, but a full-throated and genuine endorsement for the paper towels in question, because they are efficient, sturdy, thick, and also, in a pinch reusable. In short, I love them. Using a fresh paper towel to clean something up, or to serve as an ersatz dinner plate for my toast, is a behavior that I have chided for in the past. Yes, it is environmentally unfriendly to rip a paper towel off the roll and use it for just one thing—but that is why Viva’s robust fibers are vastly superior and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Paper towels don’t have to be expensive, but the good ones (Viva, if you’re not clear) are; reusing them once or maybe twice, or three times, depending on their first use, is my way of pretending to be budget-friendly. If I wrap some sad vegetable-stand green onions in a damp Viva and put it in the crisper in an attempt to prolong their crispness, I can reuse that same paper towel to clean the sink in the bathroom or to pick up the hairball extruded by my ungrateful ward. The thing holds its shape and withstands my vigorous wringing, drying nicely when draped across the paper towel holder on the kitchen counter. Much like my habit of washing and reusing Ziploc bags until they start to smell weird or degrade, reusing paper towels is a gesture towards sustainability paired with the deep-seated fear that at any moment, I will slide towards penury, destitute because of my dependency on paper towels.
Feeling rich is subjective. For me, feeling wealthy and acting like it means embracing single-use products and caring little about their impact on the environment or any sort of budget. A rich person—filthy rich, Scrooge McDuck-style—would use a dishcloth to clean up something gross and then throw it away. I do not have the luxury to buy dish towels en masse, and honestly, if it were me in this fantasy scenario, I would throw the sullied dishcloth into the washing machine in my well-appointed laundry room instead of in the garbage. But a paper towel that’s good and thick and sturdy replicates the new-dishcloth feeling well enough for me to inhabit the wealth I aspire to have.