We use cloth napkins. Always. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. Generally, they are finger towels of terry cloth, absorbent, big enough to wipe your hands and face on, and easily washable. No ironing. We have dozens of them.
When we have fancy guests we use linen, generally monogramed, hand hemmed, double damask, sixteen-by-sixteen-inch napkins my great-grandmother made shortly after her marriage in 1869. We have 16 of them because that’s what the Victorians had. (We also had my great-grandparents’ fruit set - six silver forks and six knives with pearl handles - but we gave them to my niece who values family heirlooms. Or maybe that’s my sister projecting on to my niece. I’m not really sure.)
We also have a lot of other linen napkins and table cloths that we use when we have guests. For ourselves, we use teflon coated table cloths that resist stains. Water and wine bead up on them. We have a friend who always knocks over a glass of red wine, so we use the teflon table cloths when he and his wife come for dinner.
Usually, when we go to other people’s houses, we end up with paper napkins. These range from little flimsies to paper towels to the really nice - and expensive - paper. Paper is fine with us. We don’t complain at all.
But I think we might be a little greener using cloth than if we used paper. I’m not sure. It may be just habit.
What I do know is that five per cent of all trees used for paper goes to paper products like toilet paper, tissues (a.k.a. Kleenex), and napkins. That seems a lot to me. And it ends up being a lot in landfills, cesspools, and sewage disposal plants. At least it’s bio-degradable.
We use tissues without a thought of being green. I used to carry a handkerchief, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I could use two or three a day because of my allergies. And then I could never get my glasses clean when I wiped them. Go figure.
We also use paper towels, although hardly with abandon. We use the tissues and towels, which I realize that despite being biodegradable contribute to the landfill problems, because they are more sanitary.
I can throw out a tissue instead of carrying the handkerchief germs around with me in my back pocket all day. I can spray disinfectant on a counter after working with chicken, for example, wipe it up with a paper towel, and not worry about cross contamination.
And everybody, I hope, uses toilet paper (enough said).
I can’t even begin to speak to disposable diapers. When our son was born we used both cloth and disposable. I hated changing poop-y diapers. It made me gag. I got over it. That has nothing to do with paper v. cloth however.
Is thee a point to this? Probably. Do I know what it is? Probably not.
As always I invite you to comment below.