Reasons for Cloth Napkins:
- Save money - Ok, this one needs a caveat, I am not comparing this to the packs of 9000 for $42 at Costco! I mean the generic white napkins you might find at your supermarket at 100 for $4. Let's just say a family of 4 eats dinner at home 6 nights a week and 1 lunch at home a week, so 7 meals. That's about 28 napkins a week. 52 weeks in a year, that's 1456 paper napkins. That comes to about $56 a year.
Now I know that good quality napkins are not the cheapest out there, but they pay for themselves after about a year. And they are good for years to come!
- They're eco-friendly - Using cloth napkins, you are creating less waste, using fewer trees, not to mention the bleach, glue and water used in the process (see a YouTube video here). Paper napkins are generally a one-use (maybe 2) item, and even in the compost bin, they sure fill up fast! I was finding that the amount of paper towels in the compost was more than actual food waste!
While the argument can be made that cotton is a water and labour intensive crop, you can opt for organic cotton napkins and low-impact dyes, or other materials such as hemp or linen. As for increased laundry, from my own experience it has been negligible, since one napkin can actually be used for 3 or 4 meals, unless we have guests, or we are having a really messy meal like wings or tomato sauce. We just keep our napkins at our places at the table to keep track of whose is whose. Another suggestion is to create napkin rings with family members' names on them, or even something as simple as labeled wooden clothespins to mark whose napkin it is.
- They work better than paper napkins - As I said before we use ours for 3 or 4 meals because they absorb better and they're bigger than paper napkins, They really make mealtime more enjoyable, and if you have a fun set for the kids, it gets them involved in the saving process too!
- They're prettier! Need I say more? ;-)
How to transition into cloth napkins?
I know this can feel like a bit of an investment, but I do advocate for getting good quality ones.
What to get: Get some in thicker material for utility, everyday use, and then a set of pretty ones for special occasions! Darker or colourful ones work better because they are less prone to stains.
When to get: Build up a collection slowly. You don't have to get a full stack of 30 right away. Start off with 4, if it's just 2 of you, or 8 for a family, and as you learn how often you use them, add to your stash, so you don't find yourself getting more than you really need.
Give them a try! I think you'll find them amazing to add to your lifestyle!
Oh, and (shameless plug) did I mention I have some in my Etsy Shop? There are organic and non-organic cotton options for every member of the family!