This post gets really LONG because I wanted to show you something and also give away a giftie, but in order to show something I had to explain it, and then I had to explain why I was explaining it, and then I had to explain why I was giving a giftie, and before I knew it it was one of those posts where you can scroll and Scroll and SCROLL. Maybe go potty before you start reading, or go get a sustaining snack.
I've been wanting to write about ENVIRONMENTAL STUFF for awhile, but I've felt shy about talking about it with you. My efforts are likely to be eye-rollingly pitiful to some of you, and teeth-grindingly self-righteous to others of you.
But then I thought, well, isn't that true for ALL of us and our efforts? We're ALL of us somewhere on the Environmental Righteousness Spectrum, with some people doing better than us and some people not doing as well. We all have some areas where we're all exemplary and awesome, and other areas that could get us shot by an environmental extremist.
Plus, different things make sense for different people. It makes sense for me to use handkerchiefs: I'm not grossed out by them, I prefer the feel of them on my poor little nose, I like the durability of them (hate kleenex shreddies. hate.), and I have year-round environmental allergies that give me a box-a-week tissue habit otherwise. For me, handkerchiefs are easier, cheaper, and preferable---and that's before we even get into any environmental benefits. But that doesn't mean it makes sense for YOU to use handkerchiefs. I don't even think of it for you!
In fact, I'm GREAT about other people's environmental stuff. Like, you might feel shy about discussing the way you use the backs of your kids' old school papers as scrap paper, because you're worried someone will say, "Um, yes, but you drive to Target every other day just to buy plastic stuff. You're hardly the Mother Teresa of the environment." You won't hear that from ME, though. I have several thoughts about that kind of thing:
1. "Driving and buying plastic and reusing paper" is better than "Driving and buying plastic and NOT reusing paper."
2. Reusing paper helps to cancel out some of the driving and buying plastic. Even if it doesn't make a huge impact, see #1.
3. Doing some things can lead to doing other things. If you get in the habit of reusing paper and notice it's easy and satisfying, it may have a positive impact on other behaviors. You might start CARPOOLING to Target, for example. Whereas if you think, "I drive and buy plastic, so I might as well not bother to reuse paper," you might after awhile start thinking you might as well not recycle milk jugs either.
4. People get discouraged if nothing is ever good enough. If nothing counts except Perfection, why do anything less? And yet, see #1. SOME action is better than ZERO action or ANTI-action.
So! This is all to explain why I bought cloth napkins at Target this past weekend. I don't know if it's going to work out, but I'm willing to give it a try. I'm always more willing to do environmental stuff when it's (1) fun and (2) pretty and (3) involves shopping.
I'd been thinking I shouldn't bother with cloth napkins because they need to be ironed, and suddenly I thought, "....Wait. I don't HAVE to iron them if I don't mind them being wrinkly." And I really don't mind them being wrinkly. Plus, Target had a bunch of pretty ones on 75% off, and you know how I feel about 75% off ("It's free; take whatever you want"). Some of them were the exact color of spaghetti/pizza stains, which seems perfect!
I'd also been worried that maybe cloth napkins were in the category of "Things that cancel out their own positive environmental impact." I know a lot of people use paper plates because their feeling is that the impact of the manufacture and use of paper plates is less serious than the impact of the dishwashing. It could definitely be the same with napkins, and I have no idea which is better, and I'm not motivated to research it because I don't have strong feelings about it either way, and also because I have a feeling there are strong arguments for both sides of this. I come down on the side of washing things and reusing them, but that's partly because that's my preference (pretty ceramic plates! pretty embroidered hankies! and now pretty fabric napkins!). If it turned out I was wrong and actually it was better to use paper plates and paper tissues (and now paper napkins), I wouldn't have any crow to eat: I could just be like, "Oh! Neat!" After all, I use disposable diapers and I've been known to THROW AWAY underwear that has had a Disheartening Accident in it, so I'd be a fine one to try to act like I was standing solidly on the reusability platform.
Where was I? Oh, yes! Don't you want to see the pretty pretty napkins??
Only the vertical items are napkins; the horizontal items are dishtowels I bought because, uh. Because they were 75% off, and pretty. Don't those little orange clearance tags just make your heart LEAP UP?
Notice I got TWO identical piles of the cloth napkins. I bought four 2-packs of the embroidered orange ones (aren't those EXACTLY the color of pizza/spaghetti stains??), two 4-packs of the pretty light yellow ones that are my favorite shade of yellow and will almost certainly be covered in ugly stains within a week, and two 4-packs of the green shiny ones that don't seem like they could possibly be absorbent enough but might be better at repelling stains because of it.
This is because I'm going to SHARE. I was standing there dithering and dithering about the napkins ("WANT! ...But good? Or not? And WHICH ones?"), and then I got the idea of getting TWO batches and doing a giveaway so I could do this with a BUDDY. A cloth napkin buddy!
Giveaways make me feel shy, because I know a lot of people see them as cheap tricks to get comments, but I don't see comments that way (as currency or something), and I love giving presents and I love shopping and I love getting other people to do the same thing I'm doing. Plus, I get a little money for that ad over there to the right, and I like to spend it on doing fun stuff like giving presents.
So if you don't want to enter, you can still leave a comment if you want to---just say you're "not entering, but...". And if you want to be my cloth napkin buddy, say so, and if you want to you can say why. And this weekend or maybe Friday night, yeah probably Friday night, why don't we just say Friday night?, I'll pick one random person and mail them....um, a box of clearance cloth napkins that match mine (but not, er, each other). Woooooo!
[Edited to add: And of course Mr. Pickles the Chicken will be included with the napkins.]
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...