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Napkins and the Environment

One of the simplest ways to go green is to avoid paper napkins and use cloth ones.  A few years ago, we made the switch in my home to use cloth napkins as much as possible.  All in all, we prefer them.  They're much more effective than a paper napkin when eating something sloppy.  I'm a messy eater, and I find that when I use paper napkins, sometimes I go through more than two or three in a meal!  But with cloth napkins, one napkin is more than enough!

However, it's been argued that cloth napkins aren't always necessarily better for the environment if you aren't using them and washing them in the greenest way possible.  So, here are a few tips for using cloth napkins in the most eco-friendly fashion:

1)  This might gross some people out, but use your cloth napkins for multiple meals.  Unless you're eating something super messy, a cloth napkin could be used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  (And maybe those meals the following day, too!)

2)  Share your cloth napkins!  When it's just my husband and I, we will sometimes use a dish towel as a napkin and share it for the meal.

3)  Throw the dirty napkins in with other laundry instead of doing a load of just napkins.

4)  Follow eco-friendly laundry practices while washing them.

5)  When buying cloth napkins, try to use ones made of organic cotton, linen, or hemp.  Or if you're crafty, make your own using old sheets!

Sometimes we'll still use paper napkins, but we toss them into the compost bin, so at least they aren't taking up landfill space.  When shopping for paper napkins, look for unbleached ones made with recycled materials, and as cute as they might be, avoid the ones with snazzy decorations on them.