Over 160 billion paper napkins are used in the USA every year. These napkins blend in with the fabric of our throw away lifestyle, and compared to the damages caused by plastic seem relatively benign. After all, at least the paper napkin decomposes over time, so what’s the problem if we use one?
Lowering your impact on the planet means following the 4 R’s — Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Refusing single use items, and indeed anything we don’t actually need or even want, is a cornerstone to helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
You can purchase cloth napkins easily on Amazon, [affiliate link] but making your own can not only be gratifying, it can give you a way to upcycle linen or cotton materials. If you have old linens or perhaps a cotton t-shirt you plan to throw away, you can save them from landfill by turning them into these DIY napkins.
Cut the napkins into 13×13” squares. If you prefer larger napkins, you can make them 20×20 for the voluminous kind that fills a lap.
Fold the corner of your napkin in as if you are (sacrilegiously) dog-earring a book, and then fold your flat edges over the top of that dog ear about 1/4”. You can iron this folded edge so it holds its shape, but it’s not necessary. Pin the edges as you go to make it easier.
Sew the hem all the way around, remove the pins, and you’re done. You can zip these off in a minute with a sewing machine, or sew by hand while you watch TV. (These napkins are hand sewn.)
Linen is more environmentally friendly than cotton, but if you’re upcycling old cloth scraps or clothing into napkins, any material that does a good job of wiping your face is fine to use and environmentally sound.