When it comes right down to it, the only reason we bleach paper towels (and other paper products for that matter) is to please people aesthetically. The wood pulp is dyed with chlorine, and toxic chemicals like dioxins, organochlorines, and many others are produced. Very often, these toxins and wastewater end up in our rivers and streams, Americans consumed 300-600 times the recommend EPA “safe” dosage a day. There are many alternatives to bleach paper products (try 7th generation), just look for a “TCF” (totally chlorine free) label.
It is all aesthetics, isn’t that crazy?
It has to do with this whole mindset that we have about whiteness = cleanliness & purity. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that that’s behind doctors’ white lab coats, and white wedding dresses? Pure as the driven snow.
On the practical side though, I can see why it might be helpful to have a white towel to pick up junk so that you can look at the towel and see what you’ve cleaned. This doesn’t go so much for paper towels, as cotton balls or bandages (all of these BLEACHED) for tending wounds.
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