The Simple, Low-Waste Kitchen Swap That Makes Me Feel So Fancy

published Mar 13, 2023
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When I reminisce about growing up in the 1990s, one thing about our household stands out, loud and clear: It thrived in an era of convenience. Excluding dinner, every meal was served on a paper plate, eliminating multiple stages of post-lunch cleanup. My friends from back home still joke about how my mom uses, to this day, red Solo cups for her bedside drink of water. (What can I say? Cathy Magnuson’s a party animal!) 

Once I left the Magnuson kitchen and headed off to college and the wider world beyond, the convenience of disposable goods stopped feeling so convenient. Aside from the needless costs associated with paper household supplies, the environmental impact of nonstop consumption is colossal and well-documented. 

While I have managed adulthood without disposable goods pretty effortlessly, I admit that I long for the simplicity of paper napkins. Though I never buy them, I will shamefully disclose that I am one of those tacky folks who grabs a fistfull of napkins as I depart the local Chipotle, and then I make those napkins last two months. 

I imagine many readers have, at this point, already thought to themselves, “There’s a sustainable solution for this, and it’s cloth napkins.” Reader, somehow it never occurred to me to just buy reusable napkins. After all, my husband and I consume most of our meals from the couch while watching Netflix! Cloth napkins felt reserved for people with a formal dining room and a staff of butlers and valets and ladies’ maids. 

But when my husband and I received a beautiful handcrafted wedding gift from our beloved friend Tess, my perception shifted. To complement some beautiful indigo dyed tea towels she had gifted us for our housewarming, Tess sent us a set of dyed cotton napkins in a perfectly spooky Halloween-inspired color palette, an homage to my favorite holiday. 

This simple sustainable swap for a much-needed household item has been so effective. We store our rolled up cloth napkins in a drawer next to the kitchen sink, along with our sponges, chip clips, and trivet mats. When we’ve appropriately smothered our napkins with whatever sauce we’ve been snacking on, we toss the napkins into our laundry hamper and keep on moving. I especially love the dyed design Tess gave us, as the pattern perfectly conceals any set-in food stains (soy sauce!) that we didn’t notice.  

And while our home doesn’t even feature a formal dining table, let alone dining room, my husband and I enjoy hosting guests quite a bit. Whenever we boldly decide to whip up a formal dinner party, served kitchen island-counter style, we already have the perfect boho napkins ready to be folded as the focal point of our place settings.

Finding cloth napkins for your home is easy-peasy. Whether you choose to DIY your napkins by upcycling supplies, support local artisans (like our pal Tess!) on Etsy or at your local craft fair, or toss some into your cart on your next Target run, trust me: You’ll love the feeling of efficiency, sustainability, and a fancy little indulgence!