Mar 9, 2012

Posted by in Green Resources | 9 Comments

Small Steps to Living Green: Use Cloth Napkins

Small Steps To Living Green Saturday

Step #3: Use Cloth Napkins

Why is this an important “green” step?

Paper goods account for 29% of the waste put into landfills each year according to the EPA (Waste and Recycling Paper Information).  That is more than double any other type of waste!  Yes paper goods are overall biodegradable and are made from a renewable resource, but how they are produced and the overall vast quantity that is disposed of creates a very large impact on our environment.

In the process of making disposable napkins not only is new material from trees used but there is a chlorine bleaching process and other chemicals used in creating the white soft napkins you love.  Dioxin is a bi-product from this bleaching process and has a great many  negative consequences and health impacts in the environment as well as in your own bodies.

As we learned as children Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  If you cannot reduce your need for something to wipe your hands during a meal or that dirty toddler of  yours opt for something reusable and reduce your overall waste generated…plus save money doing it!

Step away from…

Disposable napkins.  Yes they are convenient, especially when you have a dozen house-guest getting together at your home and you feel like you need to reduce your clean-up load later but overall consider why you feel disposable napkins are for you.  I have found that cloth napkins can be just as convenient if not more so!  They tend to be more durable and so can be used for other clean up’s if needed (think spilt drinks…one cloth napkin can clean it up whereas it will take half a dozen disposable napkins), and if you keep a couple in the car for potential messes you always have some with you…convenient!

My family has found they  much prefer the feel of cloth against their skin as well and having cloth napkins at the table gives our meals a bit more of a “family” feeling where we want to sit down and talk, slow down after a hard fast day of go-go-go, where we used to eat and leave as soon as we were through.  No promises on this happening in your family but wouldn’t it be nice?!

The bright colored and designed cloth  napkins from Kids Konserve really are fun to use!

Many families feel cloth napkins are considered “fancy” and only for special holiday occasions, but that is not true!  Cloth napkins are very affordable!  May times you can make a simple napkin yourself with some simple cotton fabric, or you can pick up some colors you like at your local department store like Kohl’s on clearance.  There is a wide variety out there these days for holidays, every day, or even special designs for work/school lunchboxes and the kids in your home!

What does SAPsMaMa use?

In our home we have a variety of Cloth Napkins.  I often love to use my Eco Lunchbox napkins for my work lunches, SAP loves her Fabkins napkins with embroidered animals on them, or just every day we use Kids Konserve napkins with their bright colored patterns or some clearance linen napkins I picked up at Kohl’s Department Store.  See if you like the Kids Konserve lunch sack, containers, and cloth napkins in my Earth Day 2011 Kids Konserve Review here!

On top: EcoLunchBox cloth napkin!  The others are from Kohl’s linens, the rest are dirty at them moment!

I have found my daughter very much enjoys picking  out what color napkin she wants at each meal and it makes her chore of setting her place setting for meal time more enjoyable for her.  Though we have to wash the cloth napkins we just throw them in with whatever load of laundry we are washing, they are so small they do not take up any more room than would have been empty space anyway!

We do manage to run out on a regular basis so I am considering sewing some cute napkins of my own to add to our collection!  If you sew this would make the choice to use cloth  napkins even more economical in your household as the initial cost of purchasing the cloth  napkins or time spent waiting for a good sale would not need to be taken into account.  This would make a great housewarming or holiday gift too!

Fabkins makes adorable cloth  napkins sized and embroidered just for your little ones!

Green Pros of Cloth Napkins:
  • Reusable…no need to buy napkins ever again
  • Great variety of colors and patterns for events, holidays, or even children!
  • Durable: can clean up bigger messes better
  • Reduces waste greatly from your household, reducing your impact on the environment
  • Can help you create family time or make chores fun for children.  You can even make fun swans or animal shapes and learn napkin folding you can do every day if you like!
  • Can easily be washed in laundry loads without any extra detergent or cost associate to their care than your normal load would require
Cons to Glass Storage Containers
  • If used on the go such as in lunches or stored in the car for use at restaurants you then have to transport the dirty napkin home, which can sometimes become forgotten
  • If used in children’s lunch boxes it might accidentally get thrown out with the rest of their disposable garbage if the child is not familiar with a cloth napkin and knows to bring it home.
  • You will need to wash these, so you need an adequate supply of napkins so you don’t run out.  Unless you  make your own napkins the upfront cost can be a bit pricy depending on the sales you find.

Learn more about Small Steps To Living Green Saturday at my information post!


This is one small step of many you may take to try to help your family live more “green” and eco-friendly in this modern world!  I am using my family as an example in small simple steps through Small Steps to Living Green Saturday every week…come check out the rest of my tips and steps in my Green Resources tab!
If you would like to link up your blog post or contribute a post to Small Steps To Living Green Saturday please email me at “sapsmama at yahoo dot com”, I’d love to feature other households as well as mine!

Let me know what you think!  Small Steps to Living Green Saturday is a  new SAPsMaMa blog feature, I would love your input!  Please share what you think of this layout and what you are hoping to see in the future with this feature!
What areas would you like to see featured?  What do you want to know the most about how SAPsMaMa’s family lives green?
  1. Excellent post! I enjoy your GREEN hints! I can never get too many GREEN hints for everyday life! Have a Greening Weekend! 🙂

  2. I always use cloth napkins! Its good to know that it really does make a difference!

  3. We are loving using cloth products. We’ve replaced paper towels with microfiber cloths and use regular thin kitchen washcloths as our napkins. Works great having them on the table when the spilled drinks happen!

  4. I am always looking for green alternatives. I avoid paper products as much as I can…not easy with a hubby who swears by them…but I usually win!

  5. we haven’t bought paper products for the kitchen in over 2 years! I love it- no paper towel or napkin out there soaks up more than my cloth ones!

  6. These are great! My inlaws in Morocco have always used cloth napkins and I find we are behind them so much in ways to be green. I am definitely looking into the kid napkins…my preschooler ALWAYS asks for a napkin and would love these.

  7. Lexi Conklin says:

    i use cloth on my babys butt why not for our hands too! its a great way to save money i will have to make a switch!

  8. This is one of the next areas we want to focus on switching as well!

  9. desiree says:

    we use the npakin i just throw them in the machine and then wash them