Posted by Angela Tague, guest blogger
Every time I go to a wedding reception or fancy restaurant, I enjoy using their cloth napkins; they make the dining experience feel cleaner and more elegant. And of course I love that they reduce the amount of waste created at the meal itself. So, I started thinking: Why aren’t eco-friendly napkins used all the time? They’re simple to make and push you to be just a little more environmentally conscious. Embracing them is really a no-brainer.
Using eco-friendly napkins cuts down on daily waste in your home. Colorful cloth napkins you craft yourself can even be great gifts or be used to match your home decor
Why Sustainable Napkins?
Not only is it good for the environment to reduce your waste, but it’s also a healthy choice for your family. Many napkins and paper towels are decorated with colorful dyes or even infused with cleansers such as bleach or degreasers (just another thing you don’t want your curious kids trying to eat). Switching to eco-friendly napkins just makes sense as you move your family to think greener. Cloth napkins are reusable, washable, durable, and you can choose the those that match your home decor. Who knew a dinner item could scratch an interior design itch? If you find one each of your children likes, they will have something to keep them personally invested in a more responsible routine.
How to Get Your Kids Involved
Teaching your kids how to make better choices with respect to the garbage they create doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It’s as easy as having them switch from paper towels and napkins to cloth alternatives when they need to wipe their fingers or clean up a small mess. To make this transition smoother, explain why eliminating napkin waste is important. Keep the conversation simple and use these kid-friendly talking points:
- Paper towels and napkins are made from trees. If we use fewer disposable paper-based items, we save more trees, like the ones you see at the park or enjoy climbing in the backyard.
- Using paper towels and napkins fill up the trash can quickly. And the more bags we fill, the more we add to the landfill. What would we do when that landfill is full? If we reduce our wastenow, we don’t have to worry about it as much. As a bonus, taking out the trash won’t be as heavy or stinky.
Make Your Own
Another way to get kids on board is getting crafty together. You can make cloth napkins with some basic sewing skills, scraps of fabric, and an hour of free time. This beginner-level project is perfect for tweens to do with you or tackle on their own. Start by venturing to the fabric store to get homespun cotton. Or, try upcycling some old cotton shirts or table cloths. You’ll need an approximately 16×16-inch square of fabric for each napkin you make. Choose fabrics that coordinate with the colors in your kitchen or your child’s favorite cartoons and hobbies. You can even turn this green project into a small gift for grandparents, teachers, neighbors, or friends.
Here are a few step-by-step tutorials to help you make cloth napkins with your child:
- This tutorial shows how to get clean, finished edges by using a sewing machine and iron so your cloth napkins look store-bought and pretty enough to use for dinner parties.
- If you have a serger sewing machine, this napkin craft comes together in a matter of minutes. No folding or pinning required!
- This guide helps you pick the best scraps for homemade napkins and shows you how to create a rolled hem on a serger. It’s that easy.
After you make your napkins, keep a little basket in the laundry room to collect the used cloths. Then, add them to your next load of towels (the napkins barely take up space) so they’re clean and ready for many more uses. The more you wash them, the softer and more pliable they become.
Have you taken steps toward using disposable paper towels and napkins in your home? Tell us why on Twitter @TomsofMaine.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.