Napkin Consciousness – Paper vs. Cloth


So as I sat there at my favorite Portuguese restaurant one crappy Saturday afternoon,  it hit me. As Pedrito laid the utensils on the table, I suddenly had an epiphany as he placed a stack of paper napkins next to my plate. That’s right, thirteen fragments of a dead tree. I know this because I counted them and who am I to question the generous nature of a waiter who figures that eating out requires an abundant amount of paper to clean one’s self. But then, it might have been his way of doing things routinely in an unconscious manner; who knows?

My intention was to go home after lunch and do a thorough search on the science that would explain the processes of manufacturing a paper versus cloth napkin. Needless to say, I found a ton of information about the pros and cons of each type of napkin; something that I wish not to discuss here because it would be rather lengthy and not of much interest, unless you have this thing going on about the practical and sustainable use of a napkin. You can read the science here:

Are Paper Napkins more Environmentally Friendly?

If you don’t like this link search the net, there are a gazillion of them with varying opinions, as you well know!

My quest to understand this new found desire to curtail, or stop using altogether,  this much overlooked culinary peripheral, led me to do some rather strange experimentation; first and foremost, questioning my wasteful ways through years of unconscious habituation.  I’ve always carried a handkerchief in my back pocket, mostly for an unexpected snuggy or two that might occur……..I know, gross, but bear with me! I decided to eliminate the paper altogether and use only the hankie for a period of three weeks and see how that would work out. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult that was; the first week and a half I always found myself reaching for the paper napkin, both out at the restaurant and in my home. Luckily I caught myself each time and backed off. By the end of the second week I was like a junkie who had kicked the addiction.

Long story short, I don’t need to consume fragments of a living and imperiled entity to clean my mouth or hands anymore, and I’ve learned a new found use for the hankie that I’ve always carried around with me most of my life. For me it has added to my sustainability consciousness and it has saved me money and time because my soiled hankies last me about two weeks before I wash them and hang dry them on my clothes line.

Big deal, right…probably not in the larger scheme of things, but just think if everyone in your state alone decided to use only reusable cloth napkins. Do you believe this might help to alleviate the negative impact we’re creating on the environment, in this case trees? I know, you’ll say ” Hey, dude, there’s recycled paper napkins…..daaaaaaaaa.” True, but why recycle something that need not be recycled if there is no need for it? Try your own experiment and see how you feel about your own experience. Get back to us and let us know how it worked out!

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