i'm ashamed to admit that for the large part of our 4-year marriage, jeremy and i have eaten dinner in front of the television. this was mostly my doing, as i liked to veg out after work and watch a few of my favorite shows. our kitchen table sat for the most part unused, later becoming a dump spot for papers, junk mail, random articles of clothing, and most recently, my sewing things. because of this, even though we aren't watching television anymore, we still eat on the couch in front of a blank screen. strange, right?
fast forward to this weekend. we've made some new developments and i'm happy to report that my sewing station has been moved into our brand-new crafting studio, lovingly built by jeremy himself. it's not totally complete yet, or i'd post pictures. but it's well on its way to complete functionality & coziness. which frees up the use of our kitchen table. we sat there tonight for dinner, with little lucy in her highchair (first time!) curious at the significant change in routine.
anyway. that's a long-winded introduction to the eco-friendly aspect of this post. we've been using cloth napkins for a few months now, in place of paper towels. the switch required minimal upfront cost, as i found a set of 10 at the crate & barrel outlet for ~$1.75 per napkin. they're quite boring--solid tan in color--but i can throw them in with either darks or lights and not have to worry about them getting wrecked, or wrecking any of our clothing.
cloth napkins have a certain way of elevating the whole dining experience--for instance, we visited my parent's house yesterday for dinner and my mom had taken the time to roll her new cloth napkins into little napkin holders, placing one napkin atop each plate. by the way, she found said cloth napkins at thrift town, and they happen to be an exact match to her striped seat cushion covers (which are also crafted from cloth napkins... it was an excellent discovery, and eco-friendly as well!).
anyway, we're not that fancy. i find that not every meal even qualifies for a napkin (we're sooo tidy around these parts...yeah right!). but when we need to wipe up, cloth is always within easy reach. it's an altogether simple way to cut waste and save cash--a single roll of brand name paper towels (which we used as napkins) is usually around $2. we were saving some money by purchasing in bulk at costco, but talk about throwing money into the compost bin!
we now go through a roll of paper towels about once every other month. i use one or two to line our inside compost bucket to help with the ick factor, or occasionally wipe down a mirror, and they totally came in handy during our ant infestation. now and then i'll use one to wrap up a sandwich when i'm running out the door, in order to save a ziplock. that's really all they get used for anymore. for all other chores, i've turned to using cloth rags. it really is a lot less wasteful--we were replacing our paper towel roll about once a week at the height of our non-eco friendliness. and we certainly weren't alone. this article estimates that paper towel use in america generates 3,000 tons of landfill waste each day. a statistic that's alarming and just horrendous, if you ask me, especially when the alternative is cheap, simple and accessible.
now what can be done in the world outside of our own little homes?
if you're into spreading the work guerrilla-style, click here to order yourself a set of 20, 50 or 100 "these come from trees" stickers ($5, $10 and $18, respectively). you can stick them on paper towel dispensers in public restrooms, where it's estimated that these stickers reduce consumption by about 15%... with each sticker saving 100 pounds of paper (a tree's worth) every year. i think it's a tremendously cool idea, and i'm totally going to spend 5 bucks to do my part.
whew. save trees, go cloth. this felt like a very long post!