Lower the Landfill Load–One Napkin at a Time

Meena Murugappan
December 3, 2021

For the longest time, paper napkins and paper tissues were not a part of Indian everyday living. We were content with using cloth towels for face, hand and body drying. Over the last couple of decades, these thin papers rapidly made their way into our catering services, restaurants, households and offices.  

While there are definite everyday conveniences to using Paper Napkins, it comes with a side serving of substantial environmental impact. The manufacturing process and the bleaching process consume large amounts of water and trees while releasing harmful chemicals that can adversely affect the environment.  

If you are planning a switch away from paper napkins & tissues, here are some alternatives.

Greenest option – Upcycled Hemp/Linen/Organic Cotton Cloth

Upcycle any Linen, Organic Cotton or Hemp shirts/sarees/blouses. Have a neighbourhood tailor recraft them into 30cm by30cm handkerchiefs or 30cm by 60cm hand towels.

Did you know that natural fabrics are compostable? Organic 100% cotton takes less than 20 weeks to decompose. 100% Linen takes less than 2 weeks. While Wool takes 1-5 years, bamboo takes between 1 –2 years. Hemp & silk – takes far lesser. Just remembers to remove all plastic and metal parts from the outfits.  

Greener option – Regular Cotton Cloth

While it is water-intensive during manufacturing, cotton cloth can be re-used for several years. Unlike single-use paper towels, cloth towels can be washed and reused multiple times. This makes a strong case for using Cloth Dinner Napkins, Face Towels, Hand Towels and Handkerchiefs.  

But sometimes, due to urgency or hygiene considerations, we may resort to Paper Tissues & Napkins. So, then how do we choose an earth-friendly option?  

Go Green option – 100% Recycled Paper Napkins.

Choose 100% recycled paper

1) with 90% post-consumer materials (paper that has already been used by consumers and is recycled instead of reaching landfills),

2) are TCF(Totally Chlorine Free) and

3) have no added pigment, dyes or inks.

Pale Green option – Partially recycled, Unbleached Paper Napkins

If you are unable to find 100% recycled paper, this is a good alternative. Make sure it is unbleached and ideally TCF and non-pigmented.  

No-Go option – Virgin Fiber Chlorine Bleached Paper

Virgin fibre comes from processing a tree. It is single-use tissue paper. It cannot be recycled. It can be composed. It is bleached to make it white. And this process of manufacturing and bleaching is highly harmful to the environment.  

While there may be a good situation where this paper maybe required, it is in our best interest and the environment’s wellbeing that we reduce the consumption of this ordinary White Tissue/Napkin.  

Make earth-friendly choices

1) At home, refuse to buy and stock virgin paper tissues and keep a stack of handkerchiefs ready for each person

2) At work, request your Facilities management team not to buy and stock virgin paper tissues. If it is really required, for some good reason, request them to purchase 100% Recycled Paper Napkins only. Also, encourage your colleagues to bring their own hand towels as well ash and kerchiefs

3) At public places like restaurants & public toilets, carry and use personal cloth towels and handkerchiefs.  

Hope this gives you enough information to make an earth-friendly choice. If you are interested in contributing or knowing more about this topic, please feel free to connect to us on email oes@organo.co.in or Whatsapp at 9154100775

About Organo Et School (OES)

We recognize that for any positive impact to be sustainable, it must be long-term and inter-generational. Organo Et School strives to create an apt learning environment that will support and empower families as well as individuals to embrace sustainable living mindsets and habits.

Organo Et School is a learning initiative set up by Organo in 2017 and has been facilitating field visits and workshops for Schools and Interest Groups. Organo Et School has had over 25+ schools, 6000+ students and 2500+ adults participate over the last 4 years.

We believe in connecting children & adults with nature.

Please send your queries to us at oes@organo.co.in and by phone 9154100775 today!

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