Marnie Gearhart in an attempt to keep her apartment clean and orderly, has developed a severe addiction to paper towels. Gearhart, a young woman from Idaho, admits that though she knew she had a problem, she never realized the extent of it until she went outside the United States.
She says, “Here at home, I feel like we’re told to wipe everything up and throw it out when we’re done. That makes it easy to constantly reach for the paper towels. Rather than using a washcloth to wipe up some marinara sauce, why not simply put the dirty spoon on a paper towel? It always made sense to me.”
Until she decided to cross the border into Vancouver, BC. There, while visiting family friends, she realized the extent of her problem. “I kept reaching for paper towels at unnecessary times. The family would just look at me and use an alternative source for cleaning, assuring me there was no need to use such wasteful products in excess,” she admits.
Slowly, she began to transition away from using paper products at every turn. Rather than putting her toast on a paper towel in the morning and having a seperate paper towel to wipe her hands with, she put the toast on what the Vancouver family referred to as a “plate.” Unlike the plates Gearhart had been used to, this one was not made of paper. It was actually a hard, round substance that could be washed and reused for any other foods. There was no need to have the same food only on a particular plate. For Gearhart, this discovery was fascinating and life-changing.
“I’ll admit it,” she admits. “At first, I started hyperventilating and squealing at the thought of a ‘spoon’, a metallic device that is also washable and reusable when not made of plastic, touching the surface of the kitchen without the aid of a paper towel. Once I realized that the kitchen surface, though, was as clean as the spoon, I could handle the thought. And once I discovered it was just as easy to wipe down the counter space with a washcloth after it had gotten some food on it as it was to prevent the food from touching the counter by using sheets of paper towels, I was hooked.”
Upon her return from Vancouver, Gearhart says the transition back into a more paper-towel-friendly culture has been difficult, but she intends to continue to stay strong. She claims, “I stare down the rolls and make them dare me to use them. Sometimes, they win and I have to use one or two. More often, though, I win and they just sit there. Unused and untouched. Like a nerdy pity date at the prom.”