Parenting Green: Cloth Trumps Paper


In our house, it’s hard to remember how we made it from the days of paper towels by the roll and paper napkins by the stack to the cloth napkins that prevail in our home now.

The adage ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ seemed to move from a motto to a household reality pretty quickly in our home. I’m glad about that. When I talk to my husband’s grandma about some of the projects the artisans and crafters are making around here from repurposed materials she kind of chuckles about how that was just the way things were back when she was young. It’s more of a trend now, she felt, and less out of necessity as it was when she was mothering. Though like me, I believe she was glad to hear people were getting back into that type of reclaiming regardless. Perhaps we are circling back in time a bit. History does tend to repeat itself, and this is one relapse not only worth reliving, but perhaps one we are increasingly unable to do without.

Back are the days of cloth napkins and cotton bags for bringing home groceries! Even the big chain grocery stores are retraining us with posters at their entryway reminding shoppers to get their reusable bags from the car. And before we know it, we end up using these bags for a whole lot more than groceries! Whether they’re used to hold beach towels, kids snow gear for trips, sleepover items, or for on-going projects that live in our shed, it’s no wonder I’ve lost track of them along the way…

In our house, it’s hard to remember how we made it from the days of paper towels by the roll and paper napkins by the stack to the cloth napkins that prevail in our home now. It could have been a gradual realization of the waste we were producing, or maybe it was a single moment of being offered a lovely cloth napkin at mealtime and falling in love with the way it looked and felt. In the end, I kind of like the idea that we’ve rekindled a culture of reuse not only because it’s practical but because it adds to the aesthetics of everyday living.

It’s a small change for sure, but I can’t help but adore the sight of our children sitting down to dinner at a table set with cloth napkins, and the fresh cloth diapers folded in the bedroom. There’s surely a long list of ways we can still lessen our waste and our impact. Like most, we manage to do a few choice things to move in the right direction. That said, using less paper and plastic, throwing out less packaging and producing less trash has been a win-win for our family.

Plus, we’ve been at this long enough now to realize that when one would think these simple commodities had seen their end, it’s only just the beginning. There’s another chance at life when they’re repurposed into something new. This month, Simple Diaper is celebrating the Real Diaper Association’s School of Cloth by hosting a sewing project at Beehive Sewing in Northampton. On November 23rd, we’ll be providing the opportunity to use a great sewing studio resource in the valley plus the materials and know-how to make your own reusable diaper accessories and gain some valuable skills in the process. Look for more details on Simple Diaper & Beehive Sewing’s event pages, and join the re-use revolution!

Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture 
and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.

[Photo credit: (cc) storebukkebruse]

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