A lot of New Year's Resolutions involve money (budgeting, saving). I've also seen people who resolve to become more "green". With this tip you can kill two birds with one stone.
A year and a half ago I decided to stop using paper plates. They were a daily part of our life and made for easy clean up of a quick snack or easy lunch. If I recall, the cheapest package was about $2.00 and we went through one to two packages a month. That was $2-$4 a month or $24-$48 a year. It may not sound like a lot, but that adds up and does take a bite out of the budget!
The thing is, I was so attached to my paper plates but within a week of giving them up I didn't miss them at all! The amount of dishes to wash was a bit more, but with a dishwasher it wasn't very noticeable.
The amount of garbage we throw out is also less because of it. Looking back it seems silly to have used disposable products when we had real plates in the cupboard. Even for large gatherings it is simpler and greener to use real place setting. Either ask each guess to bring their own, or pick up pretty plates and silver ware at thrift shops and garage sales to use for a larger crowd. Real place settings are so much prettier anyway. We specifically have a lot of mix matched sets in our cupboards...it makes for a festive table! :)
Around the same time we did away with paper towels. I, too, was dependent on those for wiping up spills and messes (with three kids and a puppy we were going through a lot!) and while cooking. After just a few weeks I no longer miss those either. We use rags for cleaning messes up now (old t-shirts, towels, and bed sheets make the best rags!). I just cut an old clothing up and place it into a "rag bag" underneath the kitchen sink. For easy spills we use our kitchen towels or dishcloth and throw into the wash. This, too, has helped cut down on our garbage waste and has saved us money. We were going through about 2 rolls of paper towels a month and the Bounty rolls were about $2 each, so that is another $24+ a year. I do still buy about two rolls a year, but only use them when we make homemade tacos...to absorb the grease from the shells. I'm thinking about using paper bags for that next time but don't have a stash of paper bags on hand usually.
I don't miss either of these paper products now that they are no longer a part of this household. In cutting these two little things from our lives we are doing our little part to save the planet and saving upwards of $75 or more a year. It's a very easy and simple step but makes a big difference!