I admit it. I am a paper towel snob.
I use Seventh Generation paper towels - both in the kitchen and the studio. They're made from 100% recycled fibers - and a whopping 80% of that is post consumer content.
From a studio standpoint - the softer, just-like-a-cloth towels are a nightmare. They are not only bad environmentally - using 100% virgin wood pulp and chlorine bleach to whiten them, they're also bad for your paintings. The soft wood cellulose fibers that make them oh-so-soft will leave lint all over your work environment - on your brushes, and on your canvas. Much better to use the I-can't-believe-it's-not-steel-wool variety.
Marcal is the only brand of towel that I've found whose claims of being "lint-free" are actually true. They're also a good choice for the environmentally conscious, but don't use quite as much post-consumer content.
A good test is to hold a paper towel sheet up in front of you, tear it in half, and see how much lint you produce.
Did you know? If every household in the United States replaced JUST ONE roll of virgin fiber towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones: we could save 544,000 trees. From Natural Resources Defense Council.
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