Posts Tagged ‘vintage’

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




Forgive me while I brag a moment.  One of my favorite blogs,, a “free daily email dedicated to finding the good in everything – companies, causes, people, places and products giving back and making a difference” featured my daughter’s vintage and upcycled fashion design company called Where!  She is a tireless worker and it’s starting to pay off!  I reblogged their write-up below – the lovely picture is of my younger daughter who models for her, making it a fun sisters collaboration.  I am an excited Mom!!!

Wherefore Art Thou?

Sep 21 2012

One-of-a-kind, Anthropologie-esque clothing made from vintage materials?  Yes, please!

Wherefore Art Thou?Let’s admit it: a lot of us love Anthropologie.  Sure, some of its catalogs feature things like women pretending to type on hundred-year-old typewriters that clearly don’t work, or having silent conversations with empty birdcages, but their stuff is just plain pretty.  There’s a poetic sensibility about their carefully-curated offerings, and that’s part of why we like them.

Those of us who just can’t get enough of our beloved Anthro’s goods need look no further thanWhere Designs for a more personal, partially vintage line of clothing sharing that same “what’s simple is true” aesthetic we adore so much.  Given the fact that the Richmond, Vermont-based brand run by Amy Wild calls itself “fashion for imaginative explorers of real and fantasy lands,” we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Wild’s wares found themselves on Anthro’s shelves someday.  An important component of Where is its insistence on remaining conscious of its environmental impact: instead of calling for the creation of new fabrics and notions to create the collection, Wild only uses vintage, antique and upcycled materials, steering clear of pollution and unfair labor practices.

A brand that has its head in the clouds but its feet on the ground it strives to protect?  Sign us up immediately.

Yes, Weddings Can Be Green!

There is nothing quite as special as planning your wedding. Elegant gowns, elaborate flower arrangements, limos, fancy foods and party favors are wonderful, but expensive and create a lot of waste, clearly impacting your carbon footprint.  A green wedding is just as lovely, and perhaps even more unique.  What makes a wedding green?

Choosing an outdoor venue is an obvious start.    A farm, the beach, a botanical garden or arboretum, your family’s back yard are all green options, and even greener if your wedding is during the day when you don’t need electricity.  If you prefer an indoor wedding, choose a green hotel with an environmental mission.

I know evites are super green, but I prefer traditional invitations which can also be eco-friendly.  Paper companies offer some clever, green papers beyond recycled such as paper made from made from cotton, bamboo, grass clippings, even recycled blue jeans, and they are beautiful!   Some papers even have plantable seeds imbedded in them.  Your guests will always remember your special day as they watch a plant grow from the invitation seeds.  Check out these tree free eco-invitations!

Choose locally grown, in season flowers instead of imported ones, which are usually heavily sprayed with chemicals and grown under horrible working conditions.  If there are some exotic flowers you want, make sure they are VeriFlora certified sustainably grown ones.  Potted plants or even edible arrangements make lovely and unusual centerpieces.  

Consider hiring a caterer who specializes in locally grown, seasonal foods.  Local food is fresher, has a much smaller carbon footprint and is more delicious.

Most girls dream of the perfect wedding dress.  A more eco-friendly and economical option to an expensive designer dress worn only once is a vintage or a pre-worn dress. Restructuring a family wedding dress into your style and taste is always a lovely tribute to a family heirloom and definitely a green choice. There are some socially conscious designers who use natural fabrics like silk or cotton.

Being green doesn’t necessarily mean giving anything up – it means being aware and going with a more sustainable alternative.

Information compiled from