Paper vs. Cloth: What’s the greenest?

I’m sure you’ve heard the craze for new moms and cloth diapers. “Oh you’ll save so much money on cloth than you would using diapers.” To me, it just sounds gross, and frankly I will cross that bridge when I get there and I will come and share with you my thoughts. But cloth napkins? That’s something I can entertain.

Laura's Loop: Garden Party Napkins - Knitting Crochet Sewing Crafts Patterns and Ideas! - the purl bee

Last Friday on, I ran across an article on cloth napkins and why more and more families are choosing to go this route in their homes. Cambria Bold, author of “Why Cloth Napkins Become A Practical Everyday Choice For Me” shares her reason why.

Once I discovered how easy cloth napkins could be, I developed a whole new appreciation for them. Cloth napkins are one of home life’s little luxuries, like fresh flowers, and the more I use them, the more I feel like I’m getting the better end of the deal.


You can’t physically stop using paper, that’s a given, but there are ways to save more trees and actually save YOU more money. Have you ever stopped to think about how many paper towels you use on a daily basis? Don’t worry. This article Jennifer, from Growing A Green Family, wrote about switching from paper napkins to cloth will blow your mind.

At three meals a day (1095 meals a year), a family of four would use 12 napkins per day; 4,380 per year; 21,900 per five year. That’s if you only use one napkin per person, per meal and NEVER not once have guests over. Marcal, green paper maker, notes that the average person actually uses 6 napkins per day. Since everyone I’ve ever met has guests over at least twice a year and at times uses more than one paper napkin per meal, I’m adding one extra package of paper napkins to the total.

Rebekah, from Simply Rebekah, writes “I love them and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to paper.  Cloth napkins are better for the environment and are cheaper than paper napkins over time.”

She always goes on to give four great money saving tips on switching to cloth napkins. They are:

1) Shop at Thrift Stores
2) Put Cloth Napkins on Your Wish List
3) Recycle Old Fabric
4) Make Smaller Napkins Out of Large Ones

So at the end of the day, how much will you truly save on making the switch? Not that much. Sustainably-made cloth napkins cost less then buying paper napkins over the course of five years. Given current prices, if you bought the cloth napkins brand new, five year’s worth of eco-friendly cloth napkins for a family of four could cost you anywhere from $20 to $108.00. If you bought disposable paper napkins for a family of four for five years, however, it could cost you anywhere from $322.64 to $2,635.60 depending on the type of napkins you buy and whether you buy them in bulk or one roll at a time.*

cloth napkins by nosborn on Polyvore featuring interior, interiors, interior design, home, home decor, interior decorating, Sir/Madam, Kim Seybert, HAY and Jayson Home

And last but not least, this month is all about being green so I couldn’t end this post without mentioning that you produce less trash with cloth napkins. Each year, millions of pounds of trash end up in our landfills. Some of this trash finds its way into nature and our ocean, causing trouble for wildlife. Every little bit counts and your little changes can have a huge impact. Want to go the extra mile? Make your own cloth napkins from old pieces of fabric, or find them in the home section of a consignment shop.

Are you going to make the switch?



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