We have been reducing paper waste at my house by using washcloths exclusively for cleaning up my daughter in the kitchen. I use a new one every time. She is two years old and makes lots of lovely messes, but she is also learning to be a good cleaner. For small messes I use the ones that are made for babies. I was given hundreds of them at my baby shower and they are finally finding a use. I also have some washcloths that I made out of leftover material from making receiving blankets and burp cloths. They were originally intended to be reusable wipes. I was very discouraged with my cloth diaper experience, but I don't want to digress. They were never used as diaper wipes, but we use them as washcloths.
For Earth Day this year I am going to work towards a paper-waste free kitchen. The flannel burp cloths from my daughter's infancy are very absorbent. They are made from cotton flannel and after a few washes they are the best thing to use for wet clean-up in place of paper towels. They are slightly larger than traditional cloth napkins and in a way it makes them better. I will make more of these for regular use in our kitchen.
I use this mediocre picture to show that they don't have to be pretty to be useful.
This post was inspired by Glad Rags.