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Casa Verde: Graduate to Cloth Napkins

Even some of my more grown-up friends are still using paper napkins (or — gasp — paper towels) for everyday dining. If you're among them, it's time to upgrade to some real table linens, which are both more sophisticated and better for the environment.

For weeknight dinners, don't worry about buying anything fancy. Just some simple, machine-washable cotton will do the trick, such as these Cotton Candy Napkins ($11.95) woven by the Cakchiquel people of Guatemala on looms made from recycled building materials. It would be a pain to wash a bunch of napkins every night, so don't. Instead, use your napkin for a few days in a row, and encourage the other members of your household to do the same. When the napkins are officially dirty, just toss 'em in the wash.

Join The Conversation
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i've been using cloth napkins since i moved away from my mom's house. i love to collect different sets from wherever i travel to kind of go along with meals - like a "mexican" print one for fajitas etc and some ones from india for indian food, plus plainer ones for everyday use. i also have themed tablecloths though i don't always use them (depends how messy the meal is. we have an unvarnished wood table - Bjorna from IKEA).
libs1dlab libs1dlab 9 years
When I first got married, I tried using my cloth napkins and place mats and was so frustrated when hubby would push them off to the side. Seems my mil used them only for "decoration". After many battles, I decided that if my marriage was going to work, cloth was going to have to go. I miss them although we do live in an area where water is often rationed because of drought, so I try to only wash what has to be washed and only was very full loads. Using cloth again would probably mean another load.
Yo Yo 9 years
I love this idea, never really thought of using cloth for everyday use. I do a load of laundry every few days anyway so it would not be an inconvenience at all. Thanks for the idea!
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
I love that dark red color, that's my main dining room and kitchen color!
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
PS Katikins (love your name by the way, lol)--you don't do specific loads of laundry just for your napkins, you just toss them in with your normal wash. It would be similar to tossing in a few extra socks, I think. So though I can see where you're coming from, I don't think it really makes much of an effect in that way.
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
I grew up in a household that never used anything but cloth napkins, and I remembered being slightly shocked when we'd go to other people's homes that they did use them--I thought cloth was the norm and paper napkins were something you ate with fast food or something. That being said, now that I have my own place, what are we using? Paper napkins! This article reminds me of why I prefer cloth so much (aside from the fact that I was raised with it), and I will definitely be making the switch now, and extolling the virtues of it to my roommates as well!
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
My husband is anti-cloth napkins. He hates to get them dirty. With just the two of us we don't have to do laundry too often and therefore we'd never have any clean napkins.
Katikins Katikins 9 years
I've been hearing a lot about getting rid of paper napkins and paper towels and going to using cloth for either napkins of cleaning, etc. And while I like the idea of getting rid of waste from the environment, it would seem to me that we are expending more water and potenitally toxic chemicals into the environment by washing cloth napkins. Let's face it, not everyone uses Seventh Generation laundry detergent (or other eco-friendly detergents). I'd be more in favor of a recycled, colorful paper alternative - something that bio-degrades so fast it doesn't matter if you toss it. ;)
Tsoniki Tsoniki 9 years
I've been using cloth napkins for a couple of years now - though we also buy paper towels. You can find cloth napkins all over and often on sale or clearance. I probably need to replenish my stash actually.
saffy1227 saffy1227 9 years
jillybean jillybean 9 years
I have been using cloth napkins for a long time. They are so much nicer than paper. I do use a new napkin every night, but I have enough so that I only have to wash them once a week with my regular washing. You don't have to have expensive cloth napkins at every meal, and after you start collecting you will have more than enough. I change mine with the seasons and holidays, same with my placemats and tablecloths. I can't eat without a placemat now. Plus, I love color, so it makes meals more fun. Even for outdoor eating I use regular plates and cloth placemats and napkins. Switch and you will be hooked!
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
My husband is from Canada. His mum is originally from the U.K. She is big on proper table ettiquette.. And part of that means using cloth napkins. After her first visit with us, where she had to use a paper napkin at dinner, she sent me some "every day" cloth napkins. I liked the idea, and felt so grown up using them, that I expanded my collection. Anthropologie and Crate and Barrel also have resonably priced cloth napkins that are super cute. And, one thing to point out, you DON'T have to use a new cloth napkin at each meal. They don't get too dirty at each sitting. So I often use one napkin each day.
studio524 studio524 9 years
We've been using cloth napkins for more than 10 years and I have to say that not only do they save the planetary resources but it also makes our every day table a bit more special.
millarci millarci 9 years
*sigh* I am guilty of using paper napkins and paper towels. I would love cloth napkins but it looks it would be more of an inconvenience. However, in the long run, you will be saving more trees. It's definetly something to think about, but I'm not sure if I could re-use a cloth napkin after using it once. I would have the urge to clean it everyday which would probably cause me to go back to paper napkins.
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