What if I told you I haven't bought paper towels at ALL in over 3 years? One of the very first things we did to be "green" and save a ton of money was start using reusable paper towels. This was actually a huge change for us as we were probably buying a 15-pack of paper towels every other week, running about $20. We used them to dry our hands by the kitchen sink, to wipe up the counter tops, to wash mirrors/windows, to pick up a mess on the floor, pretty much everything. I actually got the idea from a friend, we posed the question to our little playgroup "what is one thing you do to be green?" and she offered up that. This change has been AWESOME for us. We don't waste money on paper towels, and we don't create a ton of garbage with them either. I went on etsy to snag these "unpaper towels" from madeintheredbarn and haven't looked back (not a paid endorsement or anything, just relaying my experience).
Truthfully, if I was feeling more crafty I probably could have just made them, and you could too! They're just pieces of microfiber cloth cut up and zigzagged around the edges. I stack them up in a basket next to the sink so they are accessible, just like a roll of paper towels.
I use them for everything I used paper towels for, the counters, my hands, messes on the floor, wiping my kiddo's face, we even use them for napkins too. Toss them in the laundry with your whites, or even as a separate load with hot water and vinegar if you want to sanitize them and whiten them up. I actually wash them as I do cloth diapers about once a month, otherwise I throw them in with whatever is being washed that day. We buy no more paper products for the kitchen, period. So for a $48 investment 3 years ago, and we made back our money in 6 weeks, another 10 on the cheap scale!
What was the first thing you did to start living more green/cheap?