I'm Michele's husband, and I use a lot of paper towels. Been doing it for years. Mostly in the kitchen.
Water on the counter? Two paper towels.
Smart Balance on a knife I'm about to wash? Rip off a couple paper towels.
Stove top covered with crumbs and stuff and I need to make some mac 'n' cheese for DJ? Mucho paper towels.
I've stopped using them to dry dishes, though. For that I use cloth dish towels.
Why do I use paper towels so doggone much? Partly because it's convenient, partly because I'm lazy.
Should I use fewer paper towels? Probably.
But I do a lotta sustainable stuff -- I never fertilize the lawn, I often ride my bike to work and most of my clothes are second-hand.
And I have to draw the line somewhere. I do. I'm not gonna devote my entire life to living as nonimpactfully as possible. That'd make me more nuts than I already am. And, as Michele will tell you, I need to be less nuts.
So here's what I propose --
I will try to stop using so many paper towels. I'll use dish towels when possible. That's a change I can make because using paper towels isn't particularly important to me.
And I submit that the most fruitful way to try to get average folks to live sustainably is to encourage them to change stuff that doesn't matter that much to them. No, it's not gonna fix all the problems, but it's a start.