I'm hoping this post will inspire anyone who has not made the switch from paper to cloth. For about two years now we've been using cloth napkins and towels instead of paper. Soon after having my second daughter, I realized just how many paper towels and napkins we were going through. Between a napkin for everyone at every meal and paper towels for spills, cleaning up and the general mess that occurs, I felt like I was always buying and throwing away.
I started making napkins from fabric I found, was given, or was left over. They have held up very well and are used daily so they get washed often. In the past I had tried cloth napkins - purchased from stores- but they were always too big and awkward for little hands. I found that if we were going to make the switch, I needed something very similar to what we already were using.
The napkin basket always held our paper napkins so I started making the cloth napkins to fit inside. It works perfectly and I immediately felt so much better that we weren't buying and throwing out paper napkins anymore.
I also love the switch we made from paper towels to cloth. Like the napkins, I had tried using different clothes and sizes before I found something that worked for us. For everything I tried, I found that either the size was wrong or the material or both. I again realized I needed to find a cloth substitute that was just like the paper product we were using if I was going to stick with it. Our cloth towels are a simple birdseye cotton cloth, serged around the edges. They are made the same size as a paper towel, absorb well, wash and dry easily and are very durable- in all they are just like paper towels except cloth.
Knowing I am the most successful with an organized system in place , I purchased the Towel House from Made In the Red Barn which has worked well for us. With both the napkins and towels, when they have been used they go into a small metal container in our kitchen and are washed with the laundry.
We still have more changes to make. I'm looking forward to a few more adjustments this year as I look at how our family can make more positive steps towards respecting the earth.