Posts Tagged ‘chlorine’

Paper Napkins or Cloth?


“In a Gentle Way You Can Shake the World.” – Gandhi

When I came across this wonderful quote, I started thinking about gentle changes that positively impact the earth.  One such change is to switch from paper to cloth napkins.  It sounds silly, but here is the math.  If 50% of the U.S. population used 3 paper napkins a day, that would total 450,000,000 napkins for 1 day or 164,250,000,000 napkins over a 1-year period.  That’s a staggering number of paper napkins!

The manufacture of both cloth and paper napkins obviously uses resources and energy. According to a report published by the Environmental Paper Network, however, the paper industry (which includes all paper products) is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 1/3 of municipal landfill waste.  Additionally, in the manufacture of paper napkins, the chlorine bleach used to whiten them contains toxic compounds and the dyes in decorative napkins are also questionable.  And, paper napkins are only used once!


napkins (Photo credit: pinprick)

Cloth napkins alternatively, can be used over and over, often lasting for generations.  They can be energy intensive too, but there are several ways to minimize their environmental impact.

  • Unless it’s organic cotton, it’s best to avoid cotton cloth napkins.  Cotton is labeled the world’s “dirtiest” crop because of its heavy insecticide usage.  Instead use linen (which comes from the fibers of the flax plant), hemp, vintage or your own made from fabric remnants.
  • Reuse cloth napkins for 2 or 3 days, depending on how dirty they get.  Buy different colored napkins for each member of the family.  I jokingly match the napkin color to each family member’s personality, my napkin being green of course.  You can also individualize napkin rings.
  • Wash the napkins with regular loads of laundry with environmentally safe detergent, and air-dry them.  In addition to saving energy by air-drying them, I find I don’t have to iron them!

Paper napkins are clearly more convenient, and for entertaining large crowds, picnicking or eating on the run, they make sense. Just make sure to use recycled paper ones.  According to MotherNatureNetwork, “If every household in the U.S. replaced one package of virgin fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees.”

Most of the time, however, use cloth ones.  Dig out your grandmother’s beautiful linen napkins and find yourself brought back to a simpler, slower time when gathering around the dinner table for meals and conversation was routine. That’s a pretty gentle change to me!

Information compiled from, and



Choose a Green Spa!

Do you yearn for a break from the routine? Feeling tired, stressed and overworked? Need a little pampering? Is you skin in need of extra care after the summer sun?  Relaxation and rejuvenation at a spa might be just what you need, but before you book your next massage or facial, check to see if your spa is eco-friendly with sound green practices.   Relaxing in a heavily chlorinated hot tub or jacuzzi or getting a facial with synthetically derived products containing known carcinogens is not my idea of rejuvenation!

English: A Facial mask. Português: Uma Máscara...

What makes a spa green?  Several things…

  • Green spa massage oils and facial products use high quality, natural ingredients without toxins like parabens or lauryl sulfates. They are gentler on your skin and help ensure long-term health and beauty.
  • Green spa interiors are decorated with green products like bamboo, non-toxic paint and flooring that won’t off gas chemicals.
  • Green spa robes, sheets and towels are made from natural fiber like organic cotton, bamboo or silk, grown and manufactured without the use of toxic chemicals and under environmentally friendly conditions.
  • If water or food is served, the water is filtered and the food locally sourced or organic.  Reusable or compostable plates, cups and flatware are also used.
  • Air filters rid the air of allergens and pollutants and plants are around to add natural beauty and help clean the air.
  • There are no chemical scents from cleaning or laundry products – environmentally friendly products scented with essential oils are used instead.
  • Green spas employ efficient water use, waste prevention and reduction, and recycling programs.  Low flow toilets are part of the program.
  • Green spas offer a balanced and relaxing experience considering the rhythms of nature and the body.

Sound more appealing? Go to to find a green day spa or resort near you.  For you readers in the Boston area, I highly recommend trying GOHSPA ( spa), a vegan spa opening soon in Woburn, MA.  I’ve known the owner for years and used to get her fabulous organic facials.  The list of gluten-free certified services is both extensive and novel including holistic facials, organic massage, organic nail services, hair removal with paraffin alternatives, alternative health care like Tui Na and tuning forks, kid spa treatments and more!

Information compiled from and