I wouldn't consider myself an environmentalist by far. Like most, though, I try to do my part by reusing and recycling. More importantly, our household has done quite a bit to reduce consumption and the amount of waste we produce. As a matter of fact, I have finally gotten into the habit of remembering reusable bags when I go to the grocery store.*
With that said..no one is perfect, and everyone, no matter how eco friendly, needs their "thing." I have two: paper towels and zip lock bags. Yes, we plow through both, and no, I feel no personal shame or guilt. Both items extend far beyond the reaches of my kitchen, and make my life easier. Think about it- a paper towel can be a napkin, plate, sponge, rag, tissue, or toilet paper,** to name a few things. The organization help that zip lock baggies provide (especially the gallon sized ones) proves to be limitless. Especially for travel (you can thank the FAA for that one).
One must be prudent, though. I only buy the paper towels that come perforated into smaller sheets. Also, we do reuse the baggies as long as they're not soiled. I can't say we reuse paper towels. Does anyone, really? I mean, who actually does wring out a paper towel and then use it again.....anyone?
*Although, this habit was formed more out of sheer terror of the judgmental eyes that peered down at me during my shopping trips to health food stores. Healthy eaters, as a group, are usually also very environmentally conscious. It goes with the territory.
**You know you've all done it.