New napkins and thoughts on creating less waste

These napkins mark my journey towards reusing more and creating less waste. They are also beautiful, which makes them a joy to use.

They are organic cotton and I bought them from organiccotton.biz which is a company that I like to support, but they would be easy to make if you have time. I washed and then pretreated the fabric with soya milk, as per my usual mordanting method in my book (and eBook) Botanical Colour at your Fingertips.

The dyes are from pomegranate skins (yellow) and avocado stones (peach) and avocado skins (pink). These tannin rich dyes will last well after many, many washes. Based on my previous colourfastness tests, I’d be surprised if these fade at all, but they would be so easy to over dye in the future, if the colour ever needed topping up.

Being mindful about waste

As a family, we had been getting through a considerable number of paper towels (which we used as napkins for every meal). It’s literally money straight in the bin, which is then being dumped into landfill. It makes me sick when I think of the bags of rubbish we were creating. But it’s only when we slow down that we even have time to think about these things. Every time there was a spillage, my son would grab lots of paper towels to mop up the mess. It was a bad habit that we had inadvertently encouraged.

Even though I’ve been using food waste to make dyes for a few years now, other aspects of my life hadn’t caught up. I have been living in the past in lots of areas of my life; too busy to reflect over things and make necessary changes.

Reusable options

We have switched to reusable options with lots of things. In fact we barely make any rubbish now at all, which is such a good feeling.

It’s not until we step back and reassess our lives that we can see little ways you can change. And all those little changes add up.

Yes – I have more loads of washing per week, but the cost of electricity is probably much less than all the extra “stuff” I was buying before (see list below). Not to mention we are not clogging up the land with rubbish now. And the time I spend feels like it’s worthwhile. I’m taking care of my family and not wasting money like we were before. Money isn’t endless and we all have to work hard to earn money. It’s so silly to waste it on things where there are reusable options.

Every little change makes a difference

These are some of the changes we have made over these past couple of months:

  • cloth napkins for meals and drink spillages.
  • washable bamboo “paper” towels for wiping surfaces in the kitchen. I also use these for cleaning the bathroom surfaces and sink (but still use toilet paper to clean the toilet and flush down the toilet).
  • wax wraps instead of aluminium foil (I bought vegan wax wraps, i.e. not beeswax).
  • washable dishcloths (I’m using a set of unused prefold nappies as cloths) and take a fresh one every morning. I store dirty cloths in a bucket under my kitchen sink and wash with the tea towels and bamboo “paper towels” every 3 days.
  • washable nappies for my baby, which amazingly fit him much better than the disposables we used for his first 6 months (I was using Beaming Baby), so it now means practically zero leaks, therefore less loads of washing overall despite having to wash the nappies.

The journey

When you start reconsidering things that have felt “second nature” for your entire life, it often leads to more and more questioning. If we choose to take this path, then we can fine tune our lives to have the smallest impact on the planet as possible and it will also cost us less money.