It is important to prevent oils and fat from creating costly plumbing clogs, however paper towels are not the only way of achieving this.
Worn out T-shirts or other 100% cotton material with no wearable value
Container or basket
How it is done.
Wash and dry worn out T-shirt at temperature of your comfort of sanitization.
Place material in basket or container with scissors on top safe from dust
Cook delicious meal with heart healthy saturated fat in cast iron.
Cut a small square from your t-shirt and wipe cast iron clean.
Repeat with second small square for added cleanliness.
Wipe little bits of cotton fiber out from clean cast iron pan with clean and dry hands.
Hang cast iron.
Do not wash your mini square.
I like me some zero waste. The truth of the matter seems to be that the detergent, water and electricity is of much higher value than the tiny bit of material you saved from throwing away in the first place. Nearly all kitchen related cleaning gets a washable towel, however there are greasy times when this trick works better. This also works for wire racks, fat storing jars, etc. One T-shirt lasts a surprisingly long time when cutting to the size needed.
The dye used in the T-shirt warrants discussion, and could be an area of improvement. I consider the dyes after processing to be chemically stable enough that I am not personally concerned.
For hand washing, I tend to dry my hands on the clothes I am wearing if I am not in business attire and feel they are clean enough. I am building the habit of bringing a small pocket hand towel around with me. For those not as invested, the shake and fold method allows people to reduce their paper towel usage down to one per wash.
Paper towels are an unnecessary expense for the home. For restaurant and other establishments wanting to keep paper towels as a service, please consider purchasing and composting a product that is less environmentally destructive. Here is an in depth report on paper towels that would help with purchase decisions.