A well-mannered lap top

Here’s a question for you: Do you use paper napkins at your house?

I ask because I’ve had a nice tidy basket of cloth napkins that I keep for holidays and “for good”. These napkins rarely saw the light of day once or twice a year. (Unless you count the times I’m routing around in the basket looking for different good napkins. Why are the ones I actually want now always at the very bottom of the good napkin basket?)

I have always been a real fan of pretty table linens, but they can be such high maintenance. I do not like to iron tablecloths. So, years ago, I discovered that you can get really pretty vintage table napkins at antique stores. They are so much easier to care for than big tablecloths. Here are some of the many I have collected:

Aren’t they pretty? They kinda take you back to that time when you were taught to keep your napkin on your lap like a nicely mannered child. The fabric is so thick I really don’t have to iron them. A thorough washing is all they ever really need.

When you find these napkins in antique or thrift stores, they generally don’t come in an even set. You know how people always spill something at holiday tables. Well, I figure whoever had these before me sacrificed that one napkin when Aunt Elaine knocked over her wine or some other such emergency. We’ve all been there, right? So now you know how to find a great deal on some beautiful napkins!

But that’s not what this post is about.

You see, I do have a nice tidy basket of pretty napkins, but I no longer keep them “for good”. I’ve learned to stop saving things “for good” because we are good enough in our lives right now to use the “good” napkins. You can read more about this philosophy in this post.

Hello, color choices! You can click on the picture for the link.

I’ve also added to our napkins, because I found we didn’t have enough “good” napkins to put to work in out daily lives. I found great bargains on new ones at Overstock and Amazon. (When you need just one more thing to get the free shipping: napkins!) Here’s our basket of napkins from our kitchen.

They come in lots of colors and most of them average out to have cost less than a dollar. We just spot treat them if they are really stained, like after Indian curries or BBQ, and toss them in the wash.

But the real reason I want you to think about cloth napkins is because you only have to buy them once. This makes them a perfect replacement for paper napkins and paper towels in your home. That’s right! This is a Greener Living post!

How much do you spend on disposable paper cloth every year? I bet if you add it up it will come to more than a one-time, discounted purchase of several sets of napkins. You’re already doing the laundry, what’s a few more squares of cloth?

Image courtesy of the NRDC

The National Resources Defense Council estimates that if every household in the United States used one less roll of paper towels, we could save 544,000 trees. How many paper napkins are equal to a roll of your paper towels? How much of that paper do you throw away? When you throw it away, where does it all go?

So, just to re-cap, switching to cloth napkins:

  • Saves you money in the grocery store
  • Uses what you probably already have (Get out the good stuff!)
  • Cuts down on de-forestation
  • Cuts down on waste in your nearest landfills

Win for your wallet, win for your style, win for the planet. Isn’t it nice to know that one simple change can make such a difference? Who knew that using your good manners could help save the planet?

Want some more ideas? Visit the “Greener Living” link at the top page, in the menu bar of this website. This page has all of the posts collected together from our year-long Earth Day challenge, which you can read about right here.

Posted on June 2, 2011, in Food, Green Living, Other. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you. I am good enough for the “good” napkins now.

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