disposable napkins

A Sustainable Discussion: Disposable Napkins Instead of Cloths

As parents, it’s up to us whether or not kids grow into responsible individuals. A quote I agree with and remember at all times is a quote of Dr. John Trainer, though often attributed to C.S. Lewis and goes like this: “Children are not a distraction from more important work; They are the most important work”.

This “work” is always on my mind and I can proudly say my husband and I are doing the best we can when it comes to teaching our sons values, how to be independent, the importance of assuming mistakes when they make them, as well as why apology and forgiveness matter, but our biggest focus right now is raising their eco-awareness.

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Over the years we’ve managed to adopt sustainable habits, both at home and on the road when camping, so we spend some time teaching Ethan and Noah how and why we choose what we choose when shopping, down to the smallest detail.

Our latest discussion was over why we’ve given up on cloth napkins and now only use disposable napkins. This was in the interest of Noah mostly because he had the habit of taking along cloths anywhere with him, they were some sort of friends of his, keeping him company, so my explanation came down to the three adjectives: biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.

Of course, when you’re explaining to kids who are in the curious phase there’s always the “but why” accompanied right after which led to more detailed answers. Comparing how much water goes to waste when you wash and dry (if you dry, that is) the cloth, and how much more greenhouse gas emissions go into the production of them, especially in the case of cotton, as opposed to the unbleached napkins made from recycled fibres the difference is more than obvious.

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Sure, when you think of it from the perspective of hospitality businesses, there goes more waste in maintaining cloths than at home, yet disposable napkins are still a greener version and you won’t have to worry about whether or not the soaps you use in washing them would end up impacting the life of aquatic life.

Besides, I’m going to admit when you have kids who need your constant attention you don’t have much time to waste on chores, and I don’t intend to spend mine on washing cloth napkins when I can count on the eco-friendly alternative; a chore less makes for a happy mum!

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About Eliza Pratt