Saturday, July 15, 2006

Use cloth napkins.

Several years ago, when I was in college, some friends and I drove from Swarthmore to Little Rock to spend spring break in the South. We had a great time, and my mom enjoyed getting to know my friends better. One of them was an environmentalist; he recycled, was a vegetarian, chose reusable mugs over paper or styrofoam, used handkerchiefs, you get the idea. After we used paper napkins for a few meals, he asked my mother if she had ever considered using cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Well, my mother's frugal person and a seamstress, and she always has extra fabric around the house, so we had cloth napkins by the end of the week!

Here are some reasons you may want to use cloth napkins too:

* Cloth napkins are less expensive, even with washing. Just throw them in with your regular load. That's what we do.

* Cloth napkins are easy to make. You can use almost any spare or scrap fabric, reducing the cost even further. Here are some other directions, if you prefer.

* Cloth napkins last forever or pretty close to it. This dramatically cuts down paper waste.

Some folks think cloth napkins are a little too fancy for everyday use. But remember, you can make them out of anything (prints, colors, cottons, not just white or black linen), and once you use your cloth napkins with some buffalo fish or some barbecue, you'll forget you ever thought they were 'too fancy.' They can be keepsakes too! My mother made the napkins for our wedding, and after laundering them, gave sets to family members (including us) to mark the occasion. We love using our wedding napkins for everyday meals, as it reminds us of our wonderful day.

My mother still uses cloth napkins exclusively, and she gave me my first batch just after I got my first apartment. So give cloth napkins a try. You may never go back to paper. (Thanks Aaron! Thanks Mommy!)

“Paper napkins never return from a laundry - nor love from a trip to the law courts.” - John Barrymore, American stage and film Actor. 1882-1942


Sunny Smith said...

This is a great idea! I don't own any cloth napkins, but my mom has a whole closet full of fabric scraps that I'm sure I can make some from. I'm a big napkin person (I guess since I'm messy :) but hate the waste. Should also be a fun project to do next time I'm visiting.

Karama said...

Sounds like a great project, Sunny! Have fun, and let us know how it turns out.

Thanks for reading So what can I do and come back again soon.

Karama said...

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Jillian said...

Stumbled on this post randomly. Your blog seems like a great idea, so do the cloth napkins. I do have one question: how long do they really last? I mean, suppose you do your laundry once a week (let's say Saturday) and had spaghetti on Monday. Can you really get the stains out after they've been festering for a week? Will the napkins really stand up to multiple washings? Obviously bleaching white napkins isn't very eco-friendly in itself, and white is so boring. I've been pondering this for a long time, and whether or not it ends up being all that economical in the long run.

Karama said...

Hi Jillian,

Great questions! First off, we don't have any white napkins. The nicest ones we have are from our wedding and they and all the hold up just fine. I'm still using napkins my mother made for me over 10 years ago. And this is everyday every meal use. No problems. Just toss 'em in the wash and they come out great. All of mine are cotton, most are patterned so if there is a stain it's not noticable.

I think you'll enjoy using cloth napkins. Let us know how it works out. Thanks for visiting. Please come again and spread the word!

slicerman10 said...

My mum uses cloth napkins. They're great! They’re just as functional. Actually, I would have to say from experience that they’re much more functional. They can absorb much more liquid, and retain it far better. They are also much tougher, so no more trying to scrub-a-dub-dub the dried tomato sauce, and just ending up with papery shreds all over the counter. You might hear rumors about how throwing away a few napkins doesn’t justify all of the extra laundry. That’s a complete myth. Cutting down virgin trees(which is what they do to make many paper napkins) is way more harmful to the environment than running laundry. What's really awesome is when you use cloth that's really soft, and I know that I'm excited to dig in, just so I have a reason to wipe my hands off! lol