Baby Steps to “Green” Your Kitchen ( And Save Some Green)

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The other night on Twitter, Daisy (@DrMommy) asked a question?  “What is an inexpensive idea for cloth napkins?” She was trying to get rid of the paper napkins as a first step to reducing waste.  I had the perfect answer! (Well, I thought so anyway) So I thought I’d share it here and see if you had any ideas as well!

Now, if you follow me on Twitter you know that I don’t exactly buy in to the Catastrophic Global Climate Change theory. I believe it’s a natural cycle based on the sun’s activity. (but let’s don’t debate THAT in the comment section, huh?)  You see, it doesn’t really matter in this case, because I DO believe we need to take care of our environment, and do what we can to reduce waste in landfills.  God created this world for us as stewards, and we need to be responsible.  It also doesn’t hurt to save a little money while we’re at it.

A while ago, I decided to take some baby steps, inspired by my friend Cayce, who truly tries to live in harmony with the environment. I have to take baby steps, because the thought of doing everything at once, makes me so overwhelmed, I end up not doing anything!

Here are a few ideas for inexpensive cloth napkins:

  • Fat Quarters for Quilting! I got a pack of cotton fat quarters at Walmart that matched, but were slightly different.  You can put “Fray Check” on the edges, serge them, or let them fray for a casual look.  I’ve had mine for a couple of years, and it really doesn’t add to much to the laundry.
  • Buy a vintage clothing item at a thrift store, and cut it up into napkins! I have to admit this one was all Cayce’s idea. She is so creative with this stuff!  She said that even if it’s not organic cotton, it’s an already existing item, so it’s actually greener than an organic item created from scratch.  Brillliant!
  • Do you have another idea?

BONUS!  Get rid of those expensive and wasteful paper towels! When I  told my husband that I was banishing paper towels, he sort of freaked out.  I told him he could keep a roll of paper towels in the cabinet just in case he wanted to take it out and snuggle with it use it. So here’s what I did, which would also work for every day cloth napkins:

  • Get a big stack of washcloths from the store. Usually, they are sold very cheaply in stacks of 5-10 at your local discount store.  (Make sure you have enough) I thought about putting them in a drawer, but I figured the only way I would grab them and use them is if I put them out on the window sill by the kitchen sink.   So when I would normally reach for a paper towel, I reach for the stack of washcloths.  I reuse a washcloth for a day or two and then throw it in the laundry when I feel like it’s dirty.  Again, it doesn’t really add too much to the laundry.

If you don’t feel like making your own, Cayce makes ADORABLE lunchbox napkins in her Etsy Shop, Sustainable Homestead. She also makes reusable produce/bulk bags, reusable sandwich baggies, and cloth gift wrap bags.

So what are your baby steps for “greening” your kitchen?  Share them in the comments?

Disclosure: I mention Cayce’s Etsy Store because I love her.  She’s my friend, and she’s really cool.  And green. Well, not literally green.  You know what I mean.

This post is linked at Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.  Click over there to see tons more awesometips and tricks.

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. I love to be green! I have cloth napkins and I tried to make the switch to no paper towels. But my hubby kind of freaked on that one too. But now I cut the roll in half and have my own “select-a-size” towels. That saves too. Mostly I just use those for when I’m handling raw chicken. I made cloth baby wipes/baby washcloths too.
    .-= Nikki´s last blog ..Belly Buttons- more useful than you thought. WFMW =-.

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  2. Ok, I would be the freak-out on the switching from paper towels. I love my paper towels!! I totally get it though & know that I go through too many of them:( But that would be like a gigantic step for me, so I need to start somewhere else first!

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    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    It was kind of weird at first, but I love the freedom of not having to buy them. You could try putting the towels next to the paper towels, and maybe grabbing them half the time 🙂

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  3. Wow — I love the fat quarters idea!! We have only used cloth napkins for over 20+ years. I usually keep an eye out for napkins on sale after holidays.
    But I love, love, love, the idea of all the options fat quarters would give to the stash of cheap napkins I keep.
    Thanks!!!

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Wow! 20 years! I really thought it would be harder to switch, but we love it.

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  4. Great topic! We have been completely paper towel and paper napkin free in our for about 2 years. I have built up a really great collection of cloth napkins all of which I didn’t pay more than fifty cents for(each). For paper towel purposes, I went through old clothing that wasn’t wearable anymore, but not good enough to donate, either, and cut them into sizes for rags and keep some under my kitchen sink for dish washing and another bunch in the bathroom for other cleaning. I also make my own spray cleaner.
    Cathy
    .-= Cathy H. @frugalgirl´s last blog ..Quick and Easy Veggie Soup =-.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Cathy, that’s a great idea!! I love the idea of cutting up old clothes. We pass our kids’ clothes through three girls, so sometimes by the time we’re done, they can’t be donated.

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  5. If you’re concerned about ditching the paper towels b/c you have kids and you get those “oops” water spills, etc. then I highly recommend getting a stack of microfiber towels from the automotive dept. My set is in really pretty colors and they soak up sooooo well! Sarah, my kids’ “cloths” are also washcloths… actually I think they were labeled “utility cloths” at the store. I love our napkins that I’ve made but sometimes you need terry cloth to get messy meals off of faces!

    Since you mentioned it, sweet friend, I can also make custom napkins a bit bigger for table use…9×9″. That’s the size we use at our house for the grownups. 😉

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  6. Hi Sarah!
    Here’s an update on my paper towel dilemma. My kids are a bit confused, but my hubby loves the idea..You see I banned paper plates from the house, several years ago and they are still going through the withdrawals. Now, I take away the paper towels, oh no!!:) So far it’s working…purchased washcloths, and found some cute napkins at Marshall’s …since I can’t sew..not with a sewing machine..I like the fat quarters idea. My hubby suggested get a box of rags from Sam’s, Costco’s or BJ’s and those can be used and thrown away after several uses…thanks for the great article:)
    .-= Dr. Mommy´s last blog ..Spanish Beans =-.

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  7. Catherine B
    Twitter: shoeboxdaily
    says:

    I NEED to make some changes as we still use paper plates (occasionally) and napkins/paper towels. Sadly in the past 2 years have gotten my family used to recycling! So I think I will start with paper towels – the stack of hand towels is a great idea! I am going to try it and see what happens~ Thanks for the post!
    .-= Catherine B´s last blog ..What the heck is RSS? =-.

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  8. We’ve swtiched over to mostly cloth (I still have some paper towels I purchased over a year ago in my stockpile). I have a set of washrags I keep in the kitchen for cleaning up my messy toddler after meals, there’s another set of dish rags for wiping up in the kitchen and such, there are microfiber cloths for cleaning around the house and various rags for the dirty jobs. It works for us and I expect the paper towels in my stockpile will be around for a looong time.

    We don’t use paper plates, plastic utensils or plastic cups either. We have plenty of the real version of each of those items so that is what we stick with. I even have a stash of real plates and silverware that I picked up cheap for when we have large get togethers at our house.
    .-= Buffie´s last blog ..Vitamin Alarm =-.

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  9. Just check the thrift store for cloth napkins. They usually have tons of old linens. I snagged a set of 12 white napkins for 50 cents on my first try. I later realized they had a small monogram in the corner that didn’t match ours, but so what? They’re for daily use, not a fancy dinner where people pay attention to that sort of thing. I don’t think anyone else in the family has even noticed it yet and we’ve been using them for at least 6 months. : )

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  10. Oh great idea! I never thought of quilting squares! They’re so cheap and that would be an easy project! Thanks for the tip!
    .-= Allyson´s last blog ..Bible in 90 days: 25 day check-in =-.

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  11. Muthering Heights
    Twitter: MutheringHeight
    says:

    We LOVE using cloth in place of paper in our kitchen…we literally only go through paper towels when we have company {the guests use them}, or some horrendous, irrevocable mess occurs!
    .-= Muthering Heights´s last blog ..Generation Y… =-.

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  12. Nice article! I really like the idea of using quilting fabric for napkins, and I love the image of your husband snuggling the paper towels. 🙂

    Here are some ways I’ve greened my kitchen:
    Dish detergent made from plants not petroleum. Also, washing dishes by soaking in soapy water, instead of holding them under running water and squirting soap on each dish like some people do, uses a lot less water and soap.
    Composting. Paper towel lovers can compost paper towels (if not soiled with meat, milk, or chemicals) to reduce landfill garbage.
    Keeping a whole week’s trash in the kitchen motivates us to minimize trash.
    Eating less meat.

    I totally agree about doing one thing at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. I’ve just been in the greening process for a long time!
    .-= ‘Becca´s last blog ..Handwashing Experiment =-.

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  13. Allison
    Twitter: Alli_n_Son
    says:

    I make my own cleaner, for both the kitchen and bathroom. I use an old spray bottle from a cleaner I bought a while ago, and just keep refilling it. It’s both green and frugal. I also use cloth towels instead of paper towels whenever I can.
    .-= Allison´s last blog ..LoveHandle Review and Giveaway =-.

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  14. I love the fat quarters idea! I made cloth napkins and stuck them in the napkin dispenser on the table a couple years ago, been doing it ever since. But, like you, my husband NEEDS his paper towels! I’m going out to get stacks of washcloths right now! I’m thinking a little box of some kind to put them in to sit on the counter? Thanx!

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  15. Never occured to me to use fat quarters. That is such a fabulous idea!
    .-= solstice letters´s last blog ..be a camera =-.

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  16. We have used cloth napkins for about a year. I still keep a roll of paper towel in the cabinet for raw chicken clean up and the like. Our napkins have come from thrift stores and clearance bins. We also have a box of old cut-up towels we use to clean up kids and floors and counters. When doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, we use environmentally friendly cleaners, baking soda and vinegar.

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  17. I love the comment about your husband snuggling with the paper towels. Hysterical!

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