Organic cotton napkins are a great way to start saving money on paper products and doing the environment a big favor.
Understanding Organic Cotton Napkins
A single use paper napkin heads directly to your local land fill but a cotton napkin can give you years of service, paying for itself many times over. Even though cotton napkins require regular laundering, and you'll only start to realize the savings after months, not weeks, you'll be helping to keep paper, the number one contributor to landfills across the country, under control when you buy reusable cotton products .
Cotton crops use about ten percent of the pesticides employed in agriculture worldwide. This is really a staggering figure. Here's another one: as of 2001, the global price tag for treating cotton with pesticides was almost 3 billion dollars annually. Most of that chemical stew is circulated into the environment, and some of the rest stays in the fibers of the products you bring into your home.
An organic certification means that the cotton fiber used in your organic cotton napkins was produced without synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This is good for the environment and for your family. Don't just rely on the marketing description when evaluating organic products. Look for the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) certified stamp.
Fabric dyeing processes can be hard on the environment too. Conventional dyeing methods use huge volumes of water and contribute dangerous metal residue to surrounding ecosystems.
Low Impact Dyes
The use of low impact dyes is generally accepted as a more eco-friendly alternative to conventional dyeing. Even though low impact dyeing uses chemicals, no heavy metals are involved in the process and much less water is needed.
Napkins and other textile products will sometimes advertise that they use natural dyes. Dyeing methods that employ the use of clays and plant-based materials are sometimes used to tint organic cotton for clothing and other uses. These processes are advertised as natural, and the finished goods can contain fewer chemicals, but they can also use a lot of water, and may contribute harmful chemicals to the environment from the binders used to fix the dyes to the fabric.
A third option for napkins is dye free products. Natural, undyed cotton fabric can have subtle shading from green to pink, but the most typical coloration is off-white. These products are more environmentally friendly than their dyed counterparts.
Using Cotton Napkins
The get the longest life from your organic cotton napkins, treat them with respect.
- Avoid bleach whenever possible. Bleach starts a chemical reaction in fabric fibers that continues even after the material has dried. Over time this undermines the fabric, shortening its life.
- Wash cotton napkins alone or with laundry that has no buttons, zippers or other objects that can damage the fabric or undermine the hemstitching.
- Shake out or smooth clean, wet napkins to help reduce wrinkles.
- Dry your cotton napkins on a clothesline. This will make them last longer. If you like that soft, silky feel, throw them in the dryer for a few minutes after you take them off the line.
- For a nice touch, add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil and water to a spray bottle and use it when ironing cotton napkins. Essential oil is a concentrated fragrance made through distillation. It doesn't contain any oil to stain your cotton fabrics.