15 Simple Steps for Going Green in 2015 . . . Step 2

Did you make a resolution to go greener in 2015?  Maybe you made a resolution to save a little green in 2015?  Whether you did or didn’t maybe now is a good time to make a few and simple changes, follow this 15 part series for my favorite list of 15 to kick off the New Mid-Year (or anytime of the year) Greener You.  Read on for Step 2.

2.  Replace your Paper Napkins Habit…

cotton napkins

Why Ditch the Paper Napkins?  Just like paper towels they are so handy and convenient, but did you know paper napkins (even the recycled ones) are hefty contributors to global warming, deforestation and water pollution – although there is a lot of debate about this statement, I fully believe that this is true.  Digging around for some facts about paper napkins consumption and the environment are hard to find, but I was able to ferret out the following few (um,, one).  So I am going to refer you to Step 1. Ditch your Paper Towel Habit for similar information.

I think it is important to note that all napkins (and paper towels) use energy and resources and produce pollution and waste, during manufacturing, transportation, packaging, use and disposal.  There is also a wide variety of materials for napkins (paper or cloth), sizes and weight which will impact how much energy and water is used through out their life cycle from “cradle to grave”.   So it is really hard to compare apples to pineapples in this case.

  • “During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.”
  • According to Natural Resources Defense Council “the paper and pulp industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any industry in the world.”
  • Triple Pundit  on this website is where a guy actually went through and did some calculations comparing the energy use, water use, and carbon footprint of both paper and cotton napkins.  I don’t agree with all his findings, but I do offer this for your reference.

How to Replace your Paper Napkins Habit… Truth be told we rarely used them growing up, so I have never been a big fan.  Again, my son and I don’t use them unless we are out and about dining out.  For our lunches for work or at school we take our cloth napkins.  If you can’t make them from fabric remnants,  invest in some quality hemp, linen or organic cotton napkins (check out etsy) and never look back!  The typical life span of your cloth napkins might be about 6-8 years but since I use them to clean with long after that I also save money by not buying paper towels.

For the purpose of this article I am going to use same washing and drying costs as our cleaning cloths, though I normally just throw them in with our normal laundry and don’t do a separate load.  Since we haven’t bought or made new napkins in ages, I am going to defer to Etsy and go with a similar set of cloth napkins made from organic cotton (a better choice is Linen, Flax or Hemp or even grab some at a thrift store or garage sale) .  Also I am going to use Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins, 300 Count (#1 Best Seller on Amazon in Paper Napkins) the calculations are based on 2 people using 6 napkins per day for an average of 30 days or 180 napkins per month.

vanity fair2Paper Towels Set of 4 Organic White Napkins by SmartkinCloth Napkins
Brand Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins, 300 Count 2 Sets of 4 Organic White Napkins by Smartkin (on Etsy)
Initial Cost $4.74 – 300 count of white 13” x 12.75” white 2 ply or $0.02 each $30.00 ($2.50 per month over 12 months but they could last a whole lot longer!)
Monthly Cost $7.20 (2 people using 1 napkin per meal per day for 30 days.) $3.26 ($2.50 plus $0.76 washing / drying / detergent cost)
Annual Cost $86.40 $39.12
Net Annual Savings if purchasing napkins $47.28
Net Annual Savings if you already have them $77.28


  1. Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
  2. The Guardian
  3. The Paperless Project
  4. UCSB Science Line
  5. Natural Resources Defense Council
  6. Triple Pundit  this website is where a guy actually went through and did some calculations comparing the energy use, water use, and carbon footprint of both paper and cotton napkins.

Question: So which will it be for your family . . . paper or cloth napkins? Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.