I’m not a big fan of disposable stuff in general. No, it’s not some tree-hugger thing, though I’m totally fine with things I do being less wasteful or polluting.
It’s a money-saver. I don’t use paper towels. I have cleaning cloths made of old towels. They’re not just cut up old towels, though. You take an old towel, cut it in eighths. Then you sew a zig-zag stitch all around the edges to prevent fraying and sew the long ends together into a loose tube. Depending on how you fold it, this gives you more cleaning surface per cloth, so you don’t go through as many cleaning. I’ve preferred those for years. They last a long time, and you can just toss them in with the regular laundry with no problem. (I don’t use bleach or bleach-based products in cleaning. You would have to handle them with more care in terms of laundry if you did).
But I always associated cloth napkins with formal dinners until I went to visit a friend in Portland a few years ago. In the kitchen, there was a basket of clean, folded napkins in cheerful colors and patterns. I remember seeing it and having to restrain myself from smacking my forehead at the casual sensibleness of cloth napkins. You buy a set once, then you’re all good for napkins for many years. They’re so small that it’s insignificant in terms of extra laundry and for me they wouldn’t really cost any extra to acquire. I mean, I sew. I’ve always got fabric lying around, so it’s not even as if it would have cost anything for me to have some. But if you buy paper ones, you’re buying napkins about once a month or so.
I made a set of sixteen. Since I usually do a load of darks about every two to three days (my napkins are dark burgundy), that’s more than enough. We never really run out.
What really gets me to thinking about it, though, is how often disposable products are pushed. The Swiffer Wet-Jet not only needs those disposable pads (well, okay, I use my cleaning cloths with mine, and just attach them with some old hair ties) and the special bottles of cleaner (and I just have a spray bottle of all purpose cleaner to squirt the floor down well), but then there’s the dispoable dusting rags, toilet wands and what have you. This stuff is silly and wasteful. It’s not even safer in terms of germs. If you’re really concerned, use a disinfectant cleaner, spray the surface and let it air dry. Do you do that? No, of course not. So don’t be silly about germs and disposable cleaning products.