When comparing paper napkins and cloth napkins, there is no clear-cut answer about which is more eco-friendly. In general, cloth napkins are more sustainable because they use less water for production and don't require trees to be cut down. However, recycled paper napkins aren't a bad choice, considering raw materials are not used for production. So, as you can see, there are some factors to consider.
To have better clarity, let's have a closer look.
Paper vs. cloth napkins: how is the material sourced?
We use napkins every day, but did you know that the type of napkin you use can have an impact on the environment? Paper napkins are made from wood pulp, which comes from cutting down trees. This process uses a lot of water and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In fact, producing a single ton of paper napkins requires 17 trees and 24.5 gallons of water, and produces up to 7.5 pounds of greenhouse gases. That's a lot of water and greenhouse gases for something that we use once and then throw away.
On the other hand, cloth napkins are made from materials like cotton or linen. While standard cotton production uses even more water than paper napkins, linen is a much more eco-friendly option. Cotton requires about 43.3 gallons of water for production and releases 3.9 pounds of greenhouse gases.
Linen napkins only use 8.9 gallons of water and produce just 1.9 pounds of greenhouse gases during production. That's because the flax plant, which linen is made from, only needs rainwater to grow and doesn't require any irrigation.
So, the most eco-friendly option between cloth and paper napkins largely depends on the material they are made from. And what if I told you that there was an even more eco-friendlier option than Linen Napkins? Keep reading on to find out what it is.
Paper vs. cloth napkins: reusability and recycling
When it comes to paper vs. cloth napkins, there are a few important things to consider, such as reusability and recycling. Paper napkins are only suitable for one use, and then you have to throw them away. However, they are biodegradable, so they can be added to your compost bin.
But there's a catch. If your paper napkin is covered in cooking oil, fats, and animal proteins, it should be kept out of the compost pile. That's because these substances are hard to break down and will only lead to rot in the pile. If you've used a paper napkin to clean soapy water off your countertop, keep it out of the compost pile as detergent is harmful to microorganisms that break down compost.
Cloth napkins are reusable, making them more eco-friendly than paper towels. You can use the same cloth napkin for years; simply wash it when it gets dirty and use it again.
While you can't recycle cloth napkins yourself, you can take them to a recycling company. If your cloth napkin develops a stain you can't get rid of, you can repurpose it as a rag.
Overall, when it comes to choosing between paper and cloth napkins, consider their reusability and recyclability. Cloth napkins are a more sustainable choice because they can be used over and over again, and they can be recycled when they can't be used anymore.
Are cloth napkins the most eco-friendly choice?
The answer is it depends. Cloth napkins are generally more eco-friendly than paper napkins. Linen is preferred over cotton because it uses less water and produces fewer greenhouse gases during production.
However, the most sustainable option ultimately depends on the source material used for production. Recycled paper is a better choice than virgin paper, and using napkins made from 100% recycled paper can reduce energy usage and waste during production.
One ton of recycled paper can save over 4,000 Kwh if energy, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, and prevent 60 pounds of air pollutants from being released. Office paper, magazines, cardboards, and computer papers can all be recycled into paper napkins.
If you want to use paper napkins in a way that is friendlier to the environment, go for recycled ones.
Are linen napkins really more eco-friendly than cotton fabrics?
While linen napkins are considered more eco-friendly than cotton, that's only true for regular cotton. Organic cotton, such as the ones used to make these napkins, requires no pesticide or irrigation to grow. It is purely rain-fed making it one of the world's most water-efficient kinds of cotton. And since no fertilizer or pesticide is needed, it reduces nitrogen emission that goes into the atmosphere.
Moreover, organic cotton is almost carbon neutral, making it an even eco-friendlier alternative to linen napkins. It produces 94% less greenhouse gas emissions. Beat that! So using these organic cotton napkins can help you reduce your carbon footprint more that paper and linen ever could.
What's more, cotton is more absorbent than linen, making it preferred for cleaning spills. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint but desire this absorbent quality in your napkins, go for 100% organic cotton napkins instead of linen or tissue paper.
Zero waste napkins: reducing your environmental impact
Our block-printed napkins are made with organic cotton that is hand-printed and hand-dyed using natural dyes and zero chemicals. This ensures that the entire production process causes the lowest possible environmental impact. We make these napkins especially for people like you: people who care about the environment and want to use eco-friendly products in their daily lives.
But that's not all. We also make sure to source our cotton from organic cotton farmers who are paid fairly for their work. When you buy one of our napkins, you're supporting local farmers, cotton weavers, and block printers who are dedicated to their craft. You are not only supporting the environment and the livelihoods of artisans, but you are also increasing the life of their traditions and culture.
Our zero waste cocktail napkins were born out of the idea that no fabric should go to waste. The fabric leftover from regular sized napkins were made into these 8” square cocktail napkins. Not only are these organic cotton napkins great for your cocktails and meals, but they're also a good size for kids to use. Rather than carrying large napkins, these are a great lightweight option to take it out on your picnics or travels.
Our zero-waste mission doesn't end there. We also created everyday towels in your paper towel size that are good for cleaning up spills. They look pretty and are washable and re-usable. Imagine how many trees are saved when we use cloth towels instead of paper towels. Affordable and eco-friendly, they are the perfect choice for your everyday use.