Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day Sixteen - Ms. Manners Would Approve

Swapping paper napkins for real ones

I ran out of paper napkins today and I'm not going to buy anymore. I have a perfectly good set of 12 linen napkins that only get used on Thanksgiving and they have just been promoted to "Daily Use" status. I'm sure they'll enjoy being brought out of the closet, so to speak.

Sure, it seems a little fancy to be using the cloth napkins on burger & chips night, but what the hey. Besides, I can make really cool looking stand-up crowns and swans out of them. Try that with paper ones!

Our family of four typically uses about 40 napkins per week. These are the standard buy em at your grocery store, jumbo pack of 500 napkins, bleached nice and white with chlorine and wrapped in a non-recyclable plastic. I buy a pack about every three months. I couldn't find any stats showing just how many trees were required to make them, or what the carbon emissions calculation was for their production and delivery, or how much space they take up in the average landfill. All I know is I am avoiding ALL OF THAT nonsense by using my real, already-have-em-so-why-not-use-em napkins.


So now my family is saving 2,080 napkins per year :-). Just think, if half of America did that, we could save over 156,520,000,000 (yes folks, that's 156 TRILLION) napkins. Now that's GOTTA have some sort of impact!

Difficulty Level 1 out of 5

I already had the napkins so this is super easy. When dinner (or lunch) is over, I inspect for nastiness, set aside the ones that can withstand some more use and toss into the washer the ones that managed to get chocolate milk spilled all over them. They don't really add any significant volume to my laundry, as I generally have a full load every day and adding 3 -5 napkins in there doesn't really make a dent.

If you don't already have cloth napkins, you can usually find them super-cheap at garage sales or thrift shops, so don't think this will end up costing much upfront either. So join me in some fine dining... even if it is just PB&J.


Jennifer said...

Hey Erin,

Oprah did a whole show recently on this, so did Ellen. They said that if every household would use 1 napkin less the numbers would stagger the mind!! Cloth is the way to go!

Anita said...

Hi Erin,
Burlington Coat Factory has a ton of napkins, all designs and materials, for 50 cents each. I bought a dozen in colors that go with my kitchen.