Cloth or Paper? That Is the Question…

You thought I was talking about diapers, right? Surprise, surprise! We’re going to talk about napkins today.

These napkins from Pottery Barn are perfect for Fourth of July and can also be used all year round.

I started using cloth napkins almost exclusively when my children were small. They were past the smash-the-food-in-your-mouth stage, but not much.

This is not either of my kids, but I couldn’t resist the combination of this child’s face and the devilish editing done to the photo.

My school lunch box was often a topic of conversation at the teacher lunch table as I pulled out my cloth napkin and stainless steel silverware from home. It just made my 15 minute lunch “hour” feel a little more luxurious and also protected my clothing from spills. Our staff spent a lot of money (that could have been used more effectively on FOOD) to supply our staff lunchroom with paper napkins and plastic silverware that were just thrown away, adding more to the chronic waste disposal problem. When I was done with my lunch, I washed my silverware and containers, put everything back in my lunchbox, and I was ready to pack a new lunch for the next day — it was a win-win. If my kids were still at home, I’d do my best to send them with cloth napkins to school as well.

Click into the link for a tutorial on how to make your own napkins for your children’s lunch boxes.

So, when a friend recently put out the question on Facebook whether or not people used cloth napkins, I was the first to chime in. I told my napkin stories and read the comments of others, but I didn’t actually tell her how many napkins I have.

But because you are my peeps  in the real-world, bare-my-soul platform that is my blog, I’m going to go public.

I don’t know how many napkins I have. I have lots.

GotMyReservations - A Nice Italian Red

I have eight of these.

GotMyReservations -- Celebrating Storks and Babies

I have eight of these.

I have eight of these.

GotMyReservations - 4th of July Glass and Napkin

I have eight of these, too.

GotMyReservations - Cloth Napkins

I have 32 of the green napkins — eight of each pattern — and you’ll see those next week. I have yet to put these away in my stash because I’m using them for a party. I have big plans for those Waverly green and brown ones as well.

GotMyReservations - Linens Stash

Unlike some of you, I haven’t built on an extra room in my house to store my stash, but this is only part of my collection.

This post started this morning when I was ironing these napkins. I have twenty of them and a matching tablecloth, all from Tuesday Morning.

GotMyReservations -- Fruit Napkins

Beautiful French-style cloth napkins with a border print from Tuesday Morning.

There’s a certain calm to ironing linens which I enjoy, and it brought back memories of working side-by-side with my mother. She taught me how to sprinkle (remember sprinklers?) the napkins prior to ironing and stack them up so that they share the moisture. They were much easier to iron after sprinkling, but today I just spray them with my spray bottle from Walgreens. Not quite as romantic as these mid-century laundry tools.

Anyone remember this stuff?

My new napkins had a lot of sizing in them, so I washed and ironed the whole set together. They will get softer and softer and require less ironing the more that I use them.

I was shopping for a shower gift this afternoon for a new bride. She chose beautiful napkins and placements that are 100% polyester. I put them in my shopping cart at Bed Bath and Beyond, but after trundling them around for a while, I went back and put them away. I cannot in good conscience buy polyester napkins for a naive young girl; it’s a waste of my money and she will not be happy with them. The goal of using cloth napkins is to — ahem! — actually use them. 🙂

Does this whole post mean that I never use paper napkins? Of course not. There’s a time and a place for everything, and ribs drenched in barbecue sauce require paper. I’m not a martyr to being green. I just love the feel of a cloth napkin on my skin. I know you can make a case for the green-ness of paper napkins; they are biodegradable and don’t use water to launder them and don’t put laundry chemicals into our aquifer. But they are not the same as the collected loveliness of a set of cloth napkins, especially one that has passed down to you from a relative. There’s another whole post to be written about collecting family linens…

I’m linking up with The Scoop at Confessions of a Plate Addict today. Be sure to stop by and get the scoop from these talented bloggers!



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