Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cloth vs. Paper

Was just folding some laundry which included about a dozen of our napkins and a heap of ragged towels.
We started using cloth napkins several years ago.  We were over at a friend’s house one day and I noticed that they used them & the itty-bitty-light bulb in my head went off.  Why weren’t we using cloth napkins?  I was constantly complaining about the paper napkins disintegrating, so I don’t know why it never really occurred to me to use cloth instead of paper.  Well, it could be because no one else uses them, or because growing up we didn’t use them, or because there aren’t commercials advertising cloth napkins.  Probably all of the above.
It’s cheaper in the long run to use cloth, and definitely more earth-happy.  Not to mention it makes the dinner table look fancier.  The ones I have are either from a thrift store (i.e. cheap) or hand-me-downs.  You can also easily make them from fabric scraps, although I haven’t done that yet since my napkin stash is pretty big.   I find that the cotton ones are more absorbent, although I do have two sets made of some sort of synthetic fiber.  We use them, but they are definitely not my first choice, especially if we’re having a “sloppy” meal.
I keep one stash of napkins right by the dinner table.

I do have a small package of paper napkins that were left over from our Wedding BBQ five year ago.  I’m not absolutely against paper products; paper towels, napkins & plates do have a purpose.  I’m not going to wash thirty cloth napkins, dinner plates & glasses if we’re having a party at the house.  They also come in very handy during power outages.  Ask me how I know this. 
We do, however, go through paper towels.  I use them to wash & dry the goats’ udders every milking.  I was thinking about using cloth towels but figured it was more sanitary to use a good paper towel instead.  Milk sanitation trumps reducing my paper usage in this case.  But for general household cleaning & wiping up spills I use a cloth towel or rag. Old t-shirts, stained or old bath towels, even socks get cut up for use as rags and get put into one of the rag bags.  One bag for good rags (to be used in the house) and one bag for icky rags (to be used in the garage or outside, and usually only used once).
So, is there a reason that you are still using paper napkins & towels?  Start looking for them at thrift stores, garage sales, on clearance at the dollar stores or make them yourself.  I promise you that once you use cloth, you’ll be wondering why you used paper for so long.
Oh, and by the way, if you decide to cut up your husband’s old softball t-shirt (that he wore in a championship game like seven million years ago and had holes in it the size of golf balls) don’t put it in his pile of rags.

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