On your way to a more conscious and sustainable life, you have probably come across one of the culprits that quickly fills up your rubbish bin: paper napkins.
Did you know that in Spain we use 697 tons of paper napkins and disposable tissues per year? That’s nuts! While a lot of attention is rightly given to single use plastic, paper napkins and kitchen roll are single-use items that also generate a huge amount of waste.
The European Tissue Symposium (ETS) represents 90% of the manufacturers of these products in Europe. Although half of the vegetable pulp used to manufacture the napkins is recycled, to manufacture the remaining percentage, trees have to be cut down.
So what can you do about it?
In this post you will discover the most responsible solution based on the zero waste model. We will also share our tips for making the switch from disposable paper napkins to reusable cloth napkins based on our own experience. You’ll soon be saving money and helping the planet too. What’s not to like?
The impact of a paper napkin
It is estimated that each person uses approximately 2,200 paper napkins per year. That’s a massive amount! This leads to unmeasured amounts CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, which would be negligible if everyone switched to cloth napkins.
The two main problems of disposable napkins are: 1) the single use we give them and 2) the impact that their production process has on the planet. Napkins are an essential item in our daily lives, however, disposable napkins are the main cause of indiscriminate felling of trees and forests.
One thing to keep in mind is that both napkins made with virgin fiber, from recently felled trees, and even the recycled ones, contain plastics such as polypropylene or polyethylene.
This complicates their composting, something that would be easier if they only contained vegetable fibers. Another problem: once a paper napkin is dirty, it is not reusable or recyclable. Instead, it must be thrown away. Thus, all those tons and tons of discarded napkins end up buried in a landfill or incinerated.
A better alternative: reusable cloth napkins
Cloth napkins are the best alternative that bring us a little closer to the goal of zero waste. You can reuse them as many times as you want, wash them in the washing machine and give them multiple uses like the ones we will show you below 😉
With this option, the water consumption in production is much lower than that used for the production of paper napkins. If you choose paper napkins made from recycled fibres, emissions are reduced by a third, but even this option contributes to the climate crisis.
If they are 100% recycled cotton, much better
At Verdonce we bet on this material to make the vast majority of our home linens. Very recently we launched our line of napkins made with 100% recycled Spanish cotton. Designed with great care and with a touch of elegance that does not go out of style, perfect for bringing a Mediterranean air to your sustainable table.
Recycled cotton is very probably the sustainable cloth since we give a new life to cotton that already exists. This is known as upcycling, which in our case consists of breaking down existing cotton fabrics to then create new fabrics of higher value.
What is the impact of a recycled cotton napkin?
- 0% direct water use
- 0% use of chemicals
- Considerable reduction of CO2 emissions
In short, a small change with a lot of potential capable of generating a very large impact.
A solution with a multitude of uses
To store your mid-morning snack at the office, your children’s snack or even to cover certain foods such as delicate fruit, homemade cakes, etc. in your pantry.
Substitute for kitchen roll
Surprise! You can live without the kitchen roll. This was one of the best decisions we have made in our home on our journey to zero waste. It is the typical throw-away product that made us feel bad because we used to use it without much thought. Without a doubt, cloth napkins are the best replacement.
Surprise your guests
Ever thought about turning your cloth napkins into cutlery holders? Or folding them into simple yet beautiful shapes for a cosy dinner table? That’s something we often do and want to share with you! So pay attention to our social networks, we will be sharing the most successful designs.
Cloth napkins make spectacular reusable gift wrapping. One of our favourites is wrapping a bottle of wine, for example, when invited to a friend’s house for dinner. We are big fans of furoshiki – the possibilities are endless.
Why not check out our online store for our cloth napkin saver packs? Each pack is available in three beautiful colours: olive, oat or Mediterranean blue.
Recycled cotton napkins (Set of 2)
Recycled cotton napkin x 4
We hope you liked this post. Without a doubt, it is something that has personally changed our daily routine a lot. We’ve gone from an average of 4-5 paper napkins or pieces of kitchen roll a day, to sticking with our cloth choice, and you know what? We don’t miss them!
We would love to know if you also get on board with this change. You’ll save money and it is without doubt more eco-friendly and responsible for the planet. Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
Martha Smith says
You forgot the most important tip……in my house we all have our own napkin ring with our name and at the end of the meal we place our napkin in our ring and it is ready fo use the next meal
Oliver Green says
That’s such a great tip Martha, thanks for sharing!