Saturday, February 6, 2010

small change for February

In January we made a small change to eliminate purchasing plastic water bottles...and I'm pleased to report that it was a big success!  We've been filling reusable water bottles for trips and basketball games and so far I haven't heard any complaints from the crowd.  I've also been drinking more water which is a bonus benefit.  So, for February our small change is going to be do away with paper napkins with a curious glance at the possibility of dropping paper towels in the near future. 
 When John and the kids and I were talking about what to institute in February, everyone was all on the same page with the cloth napkins.  We've actually been using them more and more since last summer and everyone seemed to feel like we could make the switch to all cloth.  I've got a good stash started and it really doesn't require more work as I just throw them in with our regular laundry. 
The other day, I saw these snack mats on Audra's blog and thought they were a great idea. Some of the time we use paper napkins as snack holders...rather than dirty a dish the kids will just put some pretzels or cookies on a napkin.  But since we aren't going to be using paper napkins, I figured these little mats would come in handy for snackin'.  
We're trying to choose changes that will work for us as a family.  So, when I mentioned what Jessica had done for her January small change by eliminating paper towels I got some mixed reviews.  John wasn't sure he wanted to go cold turkey without paper towels so we're going to do a bit of a trial run with the possibility of making that our March change.  I'm going to gather some discarded sheets and t-shirts that can be cut into cloths to use in place of the paper towels. 
We'll still have paper towels available, but  hopefully our first choice will be to grab the reuseable cloths instead of the paper towels.  I'll keep you posted on our progress...the fun thing is that I've got the excuse to make some more cloth napkins!  How about your house?...do you use paper towels and napkins or have you made the switch to cloth?...I'd love to hear what you've found that works! 

36 comments:

Christina said...

We use 100% cloth napkins! One of the reasons I like using them is that they're so much more elegant; it makes me glad to be able to make my guests and family feel special with something so simple. We do use some paper towels (you know, having a toddler makes they very useful), but in general we try to use as few as possible.

nanaofnc said...

Would you consider sharing your pattern for home-made napkins? What size to you make them? This sounds like a worthwhile change! xo,

Christina said...

Oh, and I love the snack mats! They're adorable. I'll have to stash that idea in my arsenal of scrap-using plans.

From All Stitched Up said...

I like your idea. We have moderate success with cloth napkins. Sometimes my husband sneaks in a bag of napkins. We have papertowels once in awhile but mostly use dishcloths. My hint is that I cut up old towels and use them to wash everything;floor, tub, tiles, you name it. I like them because I can just throw them in the wash. I've given up on mops - I can't figure out which one would be good.

PleaseRecycle said...

Cute napkins! Did you just make them out of regular quilting cotton?

We aren't 100% paper towel free, but I must say that those microfiber towels are a really good substitute if you're looking for something that will absorb a spill quickly. When we do buy paper towels, we buy the pick-a-size ones so we can tear off just a small sheet. Good luck!

Missouri Mommy said...

Lisa, I would love to have your pattern and instructions for making cloth napkins. I think that is something our family would do well to change as well. Let me know!

Sigrun said...

We use very few paper towemaybe 1 roll a year. I keep a terry towel as well as my teatowel handy. The terry towels get a real workout. We don't use any kind of napkins much, except at family gatherings, but how elegant it would be to have some nice fabric ones around--they could even be seasonal. I can imagine my fabric stash shrinking. Thanks.

The WoodLand School said...

We use only cloth napkins! I must confess that I'm a snob ... paper napkins just don't feel right anymore :-)

We have a basket of napkins on the table -- each family member selected a fabric fabric and I used it to stitch napkins. These are good for everyday crumb use. I also have shelves full for guests and the inevitable spilled milk.

Here's a wacky thought -- wouldn't a homemade napkin swap be fun???

Stephanie said...

I love those snack cloths, what a great idea. We are trying to cut back on our paper towel usage as well. When I worked as a florist we did not use paper towels to clean up our many messes, because the cost was so expensive for how much water spillage we would clean up daily. So we had lots of old wash, and beach towels that we cut into smaller paper towel like squares. They worked great. We did this for our house, but we find that there are some messes we still perfer to use paper towels that we can just dispose of rather then put in the wash (the occassional dog accident). So we keep a roll of paper towels on hand for that sort of thing.

Meg said...

We have been using cloth napkins for a while now, and it really is pretty easy. I would love to get rid of the paper towels! That one is going to require more work for all of us--and I like the snack mat idea. When I give the kids hot chocolate after school, I usually put a paper towel under the mug to absorb the inevitable spills. A snack mat would be a nice replacement.
Glad to hear January's small change was such a success, and I hope February is just as great!

willywagtail said...

I like your idea of a change a month. I think paper towels depends on what you use them for. I just use them for cleaning up animal mistakes and don't want to have to wash these specially so for me paper towels are staying - gotta balance the water/electricity with the paper usage. I like the snack mats too. Abit like nice teatowels. Cherrie

larissa said...

Lisa, i love your snack mats. Perfect size for a snack and then maybe a shake out over the sink so they can be used again. we use plates for under cups and for small snacks and it makes for a ton of dishes - most of which i do by hand. i may need to make some soon. we do mostly without paper towels but we keep a roll under the sink just in case. You're making some really big changes here and the best part is once you make them there's no going back. Have a wonderful weekend friend! (i'm off to write you an email!)

~ Maria ~ said...

How wonderful that your "small" change was so successful!

Going without paper in your kitchen is hard in the beginning...but once you do it, you will never go back :)

Here in the cottage, our kitchen has been "paper" free for 4 years now. I sewed napkins, crochet dishcloths, and made up rags for cleaning.

What a wonderful idea for the snack mats...very inventive! I think this will be a great idea!

Blessings,

Maria

At Home Mommy Knits said...

We haven't used paper towels in about four years. I just have a drawer in the kitchen full of kitchen towels and rags. I throw them in with the laundry each week and to be honest I haven't missed paper towels at all. I would like to make the switch to cloth napkins but we still use paper quite a bit. I like the snack mat pattern and I think I'm going to make some up for my kids. Thanks for the link!

Laura said...

Well, in England its very unusual to find napkins or paper towels at other homes...so I've kind of adopted the tradition...{my husband being English and all...} - I don't miss them at all! I've used dish or other small cloths for everything for over three years! Wow - sometimes I just don't realize these changes...
Well done to your family for taking the initiative!

The Frat Pack + Me said...

love those snack mats! We have eliminated paper towels here and it has gone surprisingly well. The trick is to have things to dry your hands on nearby. Little loops attached to cloths to hang on knobs have worked for us. I do have an emergency paper towel roll hidden away, just in case.

Green Acres in the City said...

Love the snack mats! I too, have been using cloth for years and just this year gave up Paper towels. I have a stack of old towels right outside in the garage that we now grab for spills, etc!

Liz said...

What a great thing. I love the idea of making one small change a month - by the end of the year it will add up to a big change!

Anna said...

Great idea, I love the way you are changing just one small thing at a time. I love your cloths!

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

What a great idea....I really like the idea of using snack mats. We've been putting thrifted napkins to use here and it's working out well.

And guess what I got in the mail yesterday? The most beautiful fabric cuff! It actually matches one of my handbags....I can't wait to wear it and show it off at work tomorrow. Thank you so much. You're such a sweetie.

cathleen said...

Your sewing projects are quite lovely, Lisa. I have some of those very same fabrics in my cupboard. Maybe it's time to put them to good use like you did. They look perfect!

Ann said...

Hi
what a great idea and will be making some of these over the next week. I am on school half term break and although my jobs are mountaing up I will fit in time to make some napkins for snacking.

Designs on 47th Street said...

I see by your comments, Lisa that you have stirred a lot of interest in using cloth napkins as well as eliminating paper towels! Good for you! Your blog is definitely helping to "save the world". Everytime I walk by the water bottle section of our grocery store, I think of you. I haven't bought any since you post on this. I wash and reuse my ole YMCA water bottle to take to my classes. :) See? Your blog is making a difference!

Donna

Gigi said...

Good for you! We're pretty much cloth napkin folks too (since Rachel Ashwell gave us permission to use them without ironing years ago ;-), but I'm still hanging on to my paper towels -- just got to have them for certain things, you know like cat barf, etc. (is that TMI?) And I love the snack mats too -- what a great idea!
And thank you so much for the kind thoughts sent my way recently!
Blessings,
G

Naturalearthfarm said...

We also use cloth napkins 100% except when we are having more than 10 people over to visit.
Best wishes with your month. After a month it will surely be a habit!
Warm wishes,
Tonya

Tracy said...

Your new store of cloth napkins is so very lovely and useful, Lisa...What an inspiring change! I have dinner-size cloth napkins I've sewn and/or purchased. I would like to make some more cocktail/snack-sized cloth napkins. :o) Happy Week, my friend ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

My family of five use cloth napkins 100% of the time. Some store bought and some I have stitched up. I made smaller sized napkins for the kids lunch boxes about the size of the snack mats you spoke of. I also use cloth prefold diapers in place of paper towels. They are super absorbent and clean up well!

Michele

Heather said...

We have been using cloth napkins for a lot of years, and I was kind of surprised by how nice of a transition it was. They are super fun to make, they bring an added beauty to our table, and they just go in a little bucket in the laundry room to be washed once a week (unless wet, then they are added in earlier).
I really respect that you are trying to make differences that you can manage, and that work for your family. I am learning the importance of doing that right now, and I need to be more mindful of what my family can handle

Gloria said...

Everyone here is inspiring me to use cloth napkins more than we do!We still use paper towels, the little tear off ones, and napkins most of the time. I own several sets of cloth napkins already, so we need to help with doing our part for this beautiful world of ours. I do really like the idea of the snack mats! I do cut up old towels and t-shirts to use for cleaning, so that's a start...right?! The t-shirts are wonderful for cleaning mirrors and windows!

Kristyn Knits said...

Sounds like January's change went smoothly. I love how you're incorporating the entire family in the decision of which small change to make.
The paper towel change just sounds like a big one. I use old dish towels for spills, but still keep a roll to be able to clean the bathroom floor. :)
The snack mats are a great idea!

Ruth said...

We have implemented some of those same changes here. If we all do our part, no matter how small, it will make a difference. We have become a disposable society.
I love the snack cloth idea. I think I will be trying those out. Thanks for sharing.

Ruth

Natasha said...

I have been using cloth napkins since- well a long time. When we got married in '96 we purchased scads of them at a discount and then auctioned them off the next day. I also use cloth instead of paper towels and have a cute little 'rag bag' hanging in my kitchen to store them. Such great changes.

Natasha said...

My point was and I got all side tracked and excited talking about napkins- is I love the idea for snack mats!! That is great, thank you for that idea!!

sorry about the double posts.

Audra said...

We stopped using paper towels (as a tightwad tactic) several years ago when we went to cloth napkins and it was an easy transition. I do keep a roll tucked away in a cabinet for cleaning up after chicken when I cook, but that is all they are used for. I picked up a set of those bar mop towels and we use those for general cleanup so no one is using my "pretty" towels to wipe mud off the floor. Can't say that never happens but what can you do! :)

Jessica said...

I completely agree that everyone has to be in on the change to make it work...that's why I didn't go paper towel-less until I moved to the schoolhouse! Good luck with your challenge for this month!

Alison said...

I love the snack mats! Thanks for the link!