Sunday, July 6, 2008

Linen Napkins

So for the past couple years, our family has been trying to make some changes. We're trying to be more conscious of the things we buy and use, and just the way we do things in general. A lot of it would fall under "being more green". Some of it would be under the heading of "healthier lifestyle" and some of it is "being less wasteful."

Today's post is a combination of the "green" and "less wasteful" parts of our plan.

We've been on the paper recycling bandwagon since the beginning of this mission. We designated the cabinet under our kitchen sink as our paper recycling headquarters, and try to divert all paper and cardboard from the garbage cans and put it there instead. Recently, Jason remarked that we're still using paper napkins, and wanted to know why I still buy those, even though I've put a ban on the buying of all paper plates and disposable cups and silverware. I didn't have a good answer for that, other than "One thing at a time, Man!"

My latest change was getting us to all consistently use reusable water bottles & thermoses instead of plastic water bottles and juice boxes. Besides not being thrilled about the water bottles I purchased, that mission has been pretty much accomplished (especially since I don't leave us much of an option since I stopped buying the bottled water and juice boxes!) So I agreed that we could take on a new challenge, and it might as well be using linen napkins instead of paper.

I priced linen napkins at WalMart while I was there yesterday and the decent-looking ones are about $2.50 a piece. You can get cheapie ones for $1 each, but I just wasn't feeling the red-and-white-pizza-hut-table-top look of them. I figured the "greenest" and cheapest way to get a bunch of linen napkins would be for me to go through the fabric scraps I have in the basement and use those to make my own. So that's just what I did.

A minute of internet research told me that typical fabric napkins are either 12, 14 or 17 inch squares, but that they can really be just about any size you want. I wasn't too worried about having matching sets (we already have a fancy-schmancy set for special occasions) so I just grabbed any fabric that looked remotely appropriate and started cutting squares. I made them 16 inches if the fabric scrap was big enough (so the finished napkin is about 14 inches square) but I had a few scraps from a quilt I made for Maya that will turn out to only be about 10 inches (which will be a perfect napkin for our 5-year-old's lap! There's not much to making these...just cut, iron in the sides (I double-folded each side so there were no raw edges showing), then stitch all around the square. I double stitched each edge, so there's a line of stitches all around the very edge, then another row of stiches maybe 1/8 of an inch inside the first line. I thought that might help the edges lay nicer after they are washed, especially since I have no intention of ever ironing these bad boys.

We used them at dinner tonight, and I must say, it felt like quite a luxury to have linen napkins and a regular old Sunday night dinner! I know this one isn't going to save us a ton of money (I think those $2.50 packs of 250 napkins lasted us at least a month and a half each) but I think it'll be another good example for our kids of using what you have, and not wasting things.
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