Go Green with Cloth Napkins

One of the first really green things we did was to reduce our dependence on non-essential paper waste. This included paper towels, cups, plates, toilet paper, tissue, and napkins. Paper accounts for the largest amount of solid waste in landfills, and we wanted to reduce that.

So, Jen picked up 16 cloth napkins and put them in a wicker basket in the kitchen. We realize that we could have made our own, bought organic cotton, or used hemp fiber, but we wanted to see how it went with store bought napkins first. Baby steps.

To this day, we still have those 16 napkins. This simple act has completely eliminated our use of paper napkins, saved us a ton of cash, and reduced our paper towel usage as well. The results have been amazing, and I highly recommend giving this a try.

There are also some other things to consider here. Some people question whether using cloth is actually greener. After all, you have to incrementally wash all those napkins throughout the year. This logic makes sense, but I have a hard time believing that chopping down trees, hauling timber, creating pulp, manufacturing and packaging napkins, and shipping them to stores uses less energy than 2 wash cycles per year. That said, the best scenario is making your own napkins from used organic cotton clothing, washing them in environmentally-friendly detergent, and drying them on a clothes line.

Our next step is to begin taking them with us to restaurants. I’ve already started taking only one paper napkin instead of a giant stack that never gets used. But No Impact Man has inspired me to go the extra mile. After all, if it’s so easy at home, it should be easy when I’m out too.

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