what I do

what I do

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No more paper napkins & Happy Earth Day

One of the great things about having adult children is how much you can learn from them. Having one daughter in college who is very environmentally conscious and another with a new baby who also likes all things natural, brings all kinds of new information and thoughts my way. One, that hits home today, as it is Earth Day, is about reducing our waste, specifically in the form of paper waste from napkins and paper towels to diapers.

According to Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen, authors of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet (2007, Random House), each American uses an average of 2,200 two-ply napkins a year. The National Resources Defense Council states that if every household in the United States replaced just one package of 250-count virgin-fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones, 1 million trees would be spared.

I have to say, I am obsessed with pretty paper napkins. I have a hard time resisting them, especially when they are on sale, and I love to use them when guests come over. But for everyday use, I have committed to stop using paper napkins.


I saw these lovely linen lunch napkins on Patricia's blog and thought they were just the perfect way for me to make the switch. Aren't they fabulous? I have had them in my cart several times. But each time I could not justify spending the money.

Then my daughter with the new baby found these less expensive reusable napkins on Kara's Love for Earth Etsy Shop and I almost bought them too. It was tempting - they are well priced and they have free shipping today in honor of Earth Day.

Kara gives even more compelling information about the use of paper napkins on her website:

Did you know 

42% of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper?

The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector's carbon emissions.

Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).

Municipal landfills account for one third of human-related methane emissions (and methane is 23-times more potent a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide).
Are you ready to make the switch?

But then, I realized I have drawers of cloth napkins already. Some are just too nice to use everyday, but there are some that I have not used for a long time and are fun and casual enough to put in a new drawer in my kitchen to replace my paper napkins. And isn't that part of being wise with both our resources and our budgets - using what we have?

Done! A simple solution without spending any money.

Another idea my daughter with the new baby found were these reusable paper towels. They are a very cute way of replacing paper towels.  We went as far as commissioning my mom who is a fabulous seamstress to make them for us. But then I found some simple microfiber towels in the automotive section of Target that I thought would work just fine.

Can I just say that I love using paper towels. They are convenient and are sanitary and yet I have felt guilty for a long time for using them. Using a regular dish towel didn't feel the same to me but these microfiber ones are fantastic. They are super absorbent and dry very quickly so I do not feel I am having to replace them often. I like that they are specifically used for hand drying (what I used paper towels for primarily) and will not get mixed up with my dish towels or cleaning cloths. Yes, my laundry load just got a little bigger but I think it is worth extra work.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

"Heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it."
                               -Deuteronomy 10:14


Glamour Drops said...

Bravo to you for thinking about it and then actioning it! I have, in the last year or so, switched to cloth napkins and guests always squeak with delight that they are "real" not paper. You have a very impressive collection!

Unknown said...

This is great! I love cloth napkins. Now that I sew, I've been having fun sewing napkins.

17 Perth said...

I love love love cloth napkins. My husband and I switched almost three years ago now (honestly at the time to save money).....but we cannot imagine going back now. You save money and you save the planet. I do get to do a little more laundry---but it is definitely a good trade off. :)

MrsS said...

Love it! My next mission... all glass food containers :)

pve design said...

I use cloth napkins and love them. We do have a stack of paper in the pantry for "just in case" but I do love a real cloth napkin or an honest to goodness rag.