The use of paper napkins at meal times is one of the areas where many families waste without thinking about it. Paper napkins are easy. Just toss them in the trash when you’re done, out of sight, out of mind.
A small green step is to use cloth napkins instead. Good quality ones will last for years. There are many beautiful styles made from organic materials.
Using cloth really helps a meal to feel a touch more formal. It can be a way to help the kids think more about their manners. Plus cloth absorbs a lot more if you’re having one of those messy meals.
Cleaning up cloth napkins isn’t that hard. Figure out the most convenient place for your family to keep them until laundry day, whether it’s taking them out of the kitchen and into a room where there’s already a laundry basket, or piling them up by the washing machine. It’s really not that much harder than throwing out the paper ones. Probably not even a full extra load of laundry a week, although that depends on your family’s habits.
If you aren’t ready to give up paper napkins yet, at least look for napkins made of post consumer recycled paper. While not perfect, they’re not as bad as other paper napkins.