In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.
When first thinking about Zero Waste, I knew one simple swap I wanted to make was to stop using paper towels as napkins and start using a more sustainable option: cloth napkins. One day, I'd like to give up paper towels all together, but for now, we have to be satisfied with baby steps.
I think a huge trap in many simple swaps or zero waste swaps is to rush out and buy something new. And it's so tempting, you start looking at all the pretty options out there (like these, these, and these). But I think it's super important not to give into the temptation. Zero waste isn't only about not generating garbage, it's also about making mindful, low impact choices for a more sustainable life. Simple swaps should be just that, simple.
So I waited until I found just the right napkins, which ended up being at a rummage sale 4/$1. I was super happy to not rush out and buy napkins, but to get second hand plain yellow ones.
Getting accustomed to using cloth napkins didn't happen all at once. For a long time we still reached for paper towels or paper napkins, but gradually we started using our "new" cloth napkins. Now we rarely go a meal without them. One thing that helped was realizing that we don't need to wash our napkins every day, or after every use. If it's a particularly messy meal we will, but otherwise we can go two to three meals before washing. Cloth napkins are not for special occasions, they are for everyday!
But don't take my word for it; here are two other articles about cloth napkins from Reading My Tea Leaves, and Going Zero Waste. It's great to see people making a simple swap that makes a great impact on the world's waste. Our next step will be to take our new found cloth napkin ways out into the world! Using a cloth napkin at our favorite spots that only offer paper napkins with be another great step towards Zero Waste and a simple swap.
Who else out there uses cloth napkins? What are some of the benefits or challenges you have found?