In our house, we call these serviettes. Luke prefers to reserve the word napkin for, um, well....it's other meaning. But Wikipedia tells me that the word serviette is mostly just a Canadian/UK thing, so for this post I'll say napkin. Even though it makes Luke cringe a little.
The Task: To stop using paper napkins entirely.
The Why: I read recently that forty percent of all household garbage is paper! Forty percent!? Since paper napkins in our house almost never make their way to the recycle bin or the compost, we've decided to do away with them all together.
It's not only about the wastefulness involved in disposing of napkins after every meal, but also the waste involved in production, packaging and distribution. I've been reading The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard and have been finding my eyes opened to just how much of the earth's resources are used and wasted and damaged in the making of all our stuff. Only in our crazy throw-away culture would we think it is easier to cut down trees, turn the trees into pulp, turn the pulp into paper, make the napkins, package them, ship them around the world, and buy them at the dollar store than it is to wash a few extra cloths every day!
Besides, cloth napkins are nicer. Every meal is a little bit fancy with a cloth napkin!
The How: We've always used cloth napkins for nice sit down dinners with friends, but we've resorted to the paper ones often for bigger shindigs and too often for everyday use. So the good news is we already own a few mismatched sets of cloth napkins.
We have a party coming up in a couple weeks, for which we would normally buy colourful paper napkins. Instead, we are going to take the money we would have spent on paper ones to our local thrift store and get a few more cloth napkins so that we have enough for parties. The only problem with this is that I've discovered in the past that people are hesitant to use cloth napkins (not because they are concerned about the safety/cleanliness of them, but because they don't know if they are allowed to dirty them!) and oftentimes don't even see them when they are on a buffet. If I had a dime for every time somebody with ketchup on their face was standing in front of a basket of cloth napkins and shouted "hey, Kelly, do you have any napkins?" I would have....several dimes. Seriously!
The Verdict: We actually much prefer the cloth napkins, and are really glad to be making the switch for good!
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