Monday, September 20, 2010

Going Green?

I'm not sure if we are technically "Going Green" if our motives are for simplicity sake rather than for Mother Earth.  Quite frankly I'm not all about the environment although I'm sure there are good reasons there too to go "simple".  I do hate that we are a country that consumes constantly, always needing new items to satisfy ourselves.  So many of us think used items are second best or lower class or even "unclean" although we know we can wash them and even sterilize them with all the products we have to choose from!

Anyway, with our growing family (as in teenage appetites) and larger budget, I've been brainstorming to think of ways to cut costs.  Years ago I quit buying paper towels and instead we just used paper napkins for things you might use a paper towel for.  We dry our hands with a regular towel and use the weekly newspaper ads to wash windows and mirrors.  So we haven't had paper towels in the house for years.  But. . . those napkins.

Over the past few years I'd learned that most cheap white napkins were bleached with chlorine to get them that nice crisp white color.  So we tried the ugly brown ones that are too pricey to mention and got used to them.  A few times we went back to the generic ones ladened with chemicals and my husband complained that he could actually smell the chlorine when he wiped his mouth.  It bothered him so we just closed our eyes to the price and tried to use them sparingly. But frankly, with 5 kids it's really difficult to use anything sparingly.  I did buy them from a company who sells them at wholesale prices so at least we were getting a discount.  Whenever we would run out of napkins and I didn't want to run to the store just for one item, we would use our cloth ones for a few days.  I was always tempted to just go cloth all the way but didn't really think it would save much with the laundry it takes to wash them and time.  When you give it some thought, how did the pioneers go without paper products?  I mean, for 100's or even 1000's of years we as a people did not use disposable paper napkins!

So I started thinking, if I had about 24 cloth napkins of which I already had 12 with a few random extras maybe bringing my total to 15, I'd only need another set of 6 or so.  If everyone used one napkin a day and we somehow could mark it as that persons, we would only go through 6 a day (Micah doesn't need one of his own yet although he likes to pretend with a wash rag).  That would mean doing a small load of laundry every 4 days.  No big deal.  And we'd never need to buy napkins again?  Really!

I was discussing this with some ladies at church and one gal said her mother-in-law only uses cloth and she marks the napkin ring on the bottom with the first initial of that persons name.  Ooooh, good idea!  Or what we finally decided was easiest for us, was to tie a different color of ribbon on each ring and each child knows which color they are.  I found some napkin rings at a thrift store for $3 for a set of 12 and a bag of ribbon there also.  Don't tell anyone but I think they are actually cloth covered shower curtain rings!  They work perfectly.  Each child is responsible for putting his/her napkin back into the ring after each meal and leaving it at their place.  All my cloth napkins are folded and stacked nicely in a basket with the extra rings in case we have company.

It is very simple and feels good to cut that extra cost of napkins out of the budget!  Another bonus is not having to store large packages of paper napkins.  We would buy them in bulk which is something like 5 packages at a time!  Well now we have extra space for other more important things!

Feeling fancy over here at the Lodi household!