According to The Daily Green the average American consumes 700 pounds of paper each year. Forests store 50 percent of the world’s terrestrial carbon, an important “carbon sink” that hold onto pollution that otherwise would contribute to global warming. Half of the world’s forests have already been cleared or burned and of the remaining, 80 percent are degraded. 42 percent of the wood harvest is used to make paper.
It makes sense then, to reduce our use of paper whereever we can, and to recycle all the paper that we can. So think about what goes into your trash can that is paper–aside from the packaging materials, paper from my kitchen that I throw away because it can’t be recycled includes paper napkins, paper towels and paper plates.
So to reduce this waste and live green, I can do one of two things, buy paper products that decompose in a compost pile or stop using them whenever I can and substitute another product that is “greener”. Enter the notion of using cloth to wipe up spills and to wipe my face and hands at the table. I’ve gotten out of the habit of using kitchen towels and napkins. But really, aren’t they a greener alternative? I can wash them easily and they dry in the sun readily.
So what to do about the expense of investing in new cloth napkins? Reduce it by investing in vintage cloth napkins. I see tons of them at estate and garage sales. If they’re stained, don’t worry, just use them for those particularly icky and stain producing tasks. Nice, clean ones can be used at your table or in your kitchen for those less icky tasks. And you can wash them over and over until they’re too stained to use anymore. Then, either compost them or trash them knowing that you saved some trees in the process.