Have you ever noticed how many napkins you get every time you go to a local eatery? We are a paper napkin obsessed nation. Just last night I was handed 4 napkins to eat a single dry burger and some fries that required no more than one.
So what happens to all those napkins anyway?
I surveyed some restaurants that use paper napkins, and it was uniform – they throw them in the trash, even if unused. Looking at it from their point of view, once it is on the table, they don’t really know what happens to it. So what can we do about this? We do have a few simple options:
- Decline more than a single napkin when offered. You can always ask for another if needed. Restaurant workers, only offer one per person.
- If you are grabbing the napkins, take only what you need. Most of the time one or two are sufficient.
- If it’s takeout and you are going home, you can use your napkins there (same goes for utensils!)
- If you end up with too many don’t leave them on the table, take them home or put them in your car for cleaning up spills on the go.
- Bring your own cloth napkin.
Napkins used or unused can be composted, but are generally not recycled because of bacterial considerations. By reducing our use of paper napkins, less will be ordered, less will be made, and less materials will be needed.
Most people I know these days are implementing little strategies like this on a daily basis. (As I write this my friend is telling me how he takes the extra napkins and puts them in his car for later use). We are making a big impact one napkin at a time.