One of our “Four Important and Simple Ways to Go Green in Your Home”, is to use cloth towels, instead of paper towels, to clean up spills and to use each one as much as possible before you throw it in the washing machine. Well, recently I made the commitment to go a step further and use a cloth napkin with each meal. I hear what you’re saying….it still takes water and energy to wash them. But wait…I reuse my cloth napkin for the entire week! (Unless, of course, we have a super messy meal one night and then I might use a 2nd cloth napkin that week). After each meal, I tuck it away on my kitchen shelf. On laundry day, when I’m doing a full load of wash, I grab my napkin and wash it along with other things I’m going to wash anyway. I’m not using any additional water than what I use anyway.
Long ago, when I taught outdoor school, each child was given one napkin to use for the week that had a hook sewn on it. After each meal, they hung it on the wall under their name plate for reuse at the next meal. If napkins got too dirty, we swapped them out for clean ones. But, overall, the children learned an important lesson about reusing things vs. using it once and throwing it away. So, whether you’re the type to hang your napkin, stash it away on a shelf, or re-fold it and keep it at your dinner spot, give it a try!
If you sew, you can make your own cloth napkins with leftover scrap cotton fabric or purchase a soft 100% cotton fabric at the local fabric store (sewing instructions here). Most 100% cotton fabrics get softer with each washing.
If you’re in the market to buy cloth napkins, here’s our favorite: