I gave up paper towels when I first went plastic-free since all brands come wrapped in plastic. Later, I realized how wasteful the whole idea of paper towels is in the first place. So I switched to natural cellulose sponges and cut-up rags. (Microfiber cloths are a no-no for the plastic-free crowd because they’re made from… uh… plastic.)
The thing is, sponges get gross and don’t dry out quickly, so they tend to smell bad after a while. And the rags I was using weren’t particularly absorbent. Then, a few weeks ago, I read about Skoy cloths on the Crunchy Domestic Goddess blog, and thought they sounded like a great idea.
Skoy cloths are 100% biodegradable, as they’re made from cotton and cellulose. They’re also chlorine-free and contain water-based colors and inks. While highly absorbent like sponges, they are thin and dry out fast. The company claims that one Skoy cloth can replace 15 rolls of paper towels and can last for over a year. I guess it depends on how often you use paper towels. I don’t think I’ve gone through that many in my lifetime. But then, I wasn’t counting.
Anyway, I emailed the company and asked for a sample. But not, of course, before asking about the packaging. Guess what! Zero plastic. They come packaged just as you see in the picture, with a simple cardboard strip holding the 4-pack together. And in fact, Michelle Lundqvist, who sent the cloths to me, said, “We really tried hard to find a way to package without plastic.”
So far, Michael and I are really pleased with the cloths. (Well, I should say Michael is, since he does most of the actual cleaning. What a guy!) The fact that they last such a long time (washable in dishwasher or washing machine and microwavable when wet) and can be composted at the end of their lives makes them nearly perfect.
Nearly? Well, the web site says they’re made from “natural cotton” rather than organic cotton. Perhaps we could ask Skoy to create an organic version. A 4-pack of regular Skoy cloths costs $5.99. Would you pay more for organic?
Right now, Skoy cloths are mainly sold online and in a few retail stores. I haven’t found them anywhere in my area yet. But if they last for as long as they claim, I won’t need to buy any more for quite a while.
Have you tried Skoy cloths? And if so, what do you think?
10/27/08 Update: One FPF reader mentioned Twist Cloths, which are sold at Whole Foods. First of all, Twist cloths are packaged in plastic, while Skoy cloths are not. To find out other differences, I emailed Skoy, and this is Michelle’s reponse:
Beth, We welcome you to try the difference between Twist and Skoy. We think Skoy will be the winner. It is a superior product and below defines that.
The differences between Skoy and Twist:
1. SKOY is made of cotton and cellulose and Twist is cellulose only (cotton net). This gives SKOY a rag-like feel rather than sponge-like.
2. Twist’s products are made in China and SKOY in Germany. Our factory is leaps and bounds above on environmental awareness.
3. Twist’s sponges are packed wet – feel free to investigate wetting/antibacterial agents in sponges and you will see the harmful effects to the environment. SKOY uses no antibacterial agent or wetting agent.
4. SKOY is washer and dryer safe and Twist instructs not to put in dryer.
5. SKOY has fun designs, Twist does not
6 SKOY has a full range of colors making SKOY more modern and fashionable.
8. SKOY uses no plastic in packaging, only recyclable paper.
Personally, I don’t care about colors and designs, but some of the other differences are very interesting to me!