October 14, 2011

Paper -vs- Cloth

I've been playing with the idea of switching to cloth napkins.  My mother just recently made the switch and I thought "good for her!"  And of course I was slightly jealous that my mother was being more "green" than me (for a change). 
Then I started thinking, could I make cloth work? 

  1. My Mom's household consists of three adults. 
  2. My household consists of three adults and three (sometimes four) kids.
  3. Do I want the added laundry?
  4. Is cloth actually better for the environment?
1.  I'm certain that three adults make less of a mess at meal time.
2.  My kids are very messy critters.  I'm not sure why, but even at 13 my oldest still drops tons of food on the floor and uses several napkins at each meal.  The boys are just a little bit neater than the girls.  They tend to use their shirts/pants as napkins.  All in all I must have gone wrong somewhere in teaching them cleanliness at the dinner table.
3.  We do 1-2 loads of laundry 4-5 days out of the week.  I hate to fold it and put it away, so laundry often sits in baskets in my living room.  Until  I can't look at it anymore and I fold like a mad woman while watching tv.  I do have the kids put away their clean clothes.  So how much more laundry are cloth napkins going to make?
4.  I have spent several hours trying to figure out if cloth is really better for the environment.  The biggest reason being, they have to be washed and dried.  Which means using water and electricity.

I have found several sites that tell me that cloth is better.  Many have said that you can just toss the napkins in with stuff you're already washing.  (Big bonus there for me!)  At Treehugger all the possible "environmental effects" math was done.  Growing a Green Family did the math on how much you could save using cloth napkins.  I am seriously starting to think that going cloth could work for my family.  I like save money and I like saving the earth, so this is a win-win for me.

Do any of you use cloth napkins?  Any thoughts about cloth -vs- paper?

~Earth Mom

A couple of interesting sites on switching to cloth napkins.
Simple Mom
Simple Organic


  1. We use cloth napkins and cloth toilet paper. Wouldn't go back to disposable on either fronts by choice. The extra laundry really isn't that bad, especially regarding the napkins.


  2. We don't use any napkins at all.. okay, that's me and the BF, and we either eat at the table (negligible mess) or in front of the TV, where everything spilled falls onto our clothes, hence no need for additional napkins. If we used any, I'd definitely go with cloth - not only because it is greener, but also because it looks more stylish. (Hmm, maybe that is something I should consider for our next big family get-together...)