Earth Day and Just One Thing

beautiful tree I saw on my walk this morning

beautiful tree I saw on my walk this morning

Today Earth Day is 43 years old, Happy Birthday to you Earth Day!  So how do you all feel we’ve done in the last 43 years?  I’m 49 and wasn’t really aware of Earth Day until my 20’s, though I always knew I was a child of the Earth and would often spend my days in the Meshomasic State Forest that was right next to my home.  I’d bring my dolls and try to get one of my cats to come with me and would play happily for hours.  Every summer I would be covered in poison ivy and still have a couple of scars left from all the scratching.  I knew when I saw the bats fluttering overhead that it was time to go home.  There was no need to make a special day for the Earth, to remember to give it some attention.  At least for me every day was Earth Day.  So is Mother Earth in better shape than she was 43 years ago, what do you think?

When I talk to others, I often hear their frustration and share the same feeling of what to do to help, to change.  How to help the environment, farmers, fishermen/women, animals (including us!).  It’s pretty simple to me, without trees that make oxygen, clean water and air we don’t have anything, not a thing.  So I’m beginning a series of monthly posts today called “Just One Thing.”  I’m calling it that because I always say “if we all did just one thing,” things would change.  I don’t think for a moment that what I suggest is going to stop the trajectory we’re on but I’m an optimist and hey these are small, easy changes and you never know!

vintage linen napkins

vintage linen napkins

This month’s Just One Thing is switch from paper napkins to cloth.  I don’t remember when I decided to switch but it was several years ago.  There’s a drawer in my kitchen filled with folded cloth napkins.  I find the best are made from linen, being very absorbent, incredibly durable and frankly beautiful!  I’ve been using some vintage linen napkins for years and they just seem to get softer and more beautiful with each wash.  Linen seems to give up its stains easier than cotton though I use both.  Almost 100% of my napkins are vintage and I find them at tag sales, consignment shops, Goodwill, etc.  I only iron my napkins if we are having company and go Shabby Chic the rest of the time ;)  When I owned a hair salon (did I mention I’m a hair stylist?) I used cloth napkins in the powder room, actually I would have white cotton wash cloths rolled and placed in a willow basket next to the sink.  At the end of the work day, I would wash those along with the towels that were used.  My clients loved it and thought it added a special touch, I just couldn’t bear to use paper!

One last thing, some folks have asked me is if this makes laundry a nightmare. No it hasn’t but I don’t do my whole family’s laundry!  My sons, 21 year old twins and a 19 year old have been doing their own laundry for years.    So for my husband and I it’s really no added effort to throw some napkins in when we do a wash.

So give it a try, pick up some cloth napkins and when you set the table for dinner put them out.  Your family will think they are having a very special meal, well it is a special meal and to bring this back home to Earth Day, your dinner would not be possible without the Earth and I think she deserves our best linen. :)



I’m sharing this at:   From The Farm Blog Hop


  1. I use cloth napkins too! Most of mine aren’t vintage, just ones I’ve picked up at thrift stores and yard sales. They do make the meal seem more special!

  2. What a great idea. Every small gesture adds up. What would I do? Well, I’ve been using half a sheet of papertowel for a while now. And also turning all the lights off in rooms we are not using.
    Happy Earth Day, Jayne!

    • Hi Loi! I agree, it all adds up. We’ve all gotten so used to turning the lights off when we leave a room we don’t even think about it anymore, but it took some times and my constant reminder!

  3. Jayne this is one great idea. I’m going to make an honest effort to do this even though my kids are still young and ‘messy’ and often need napkins for snacks. I often find myself consciously ‘cutting back’ on anything unnecessary (paper, power, resources) and it feels so good. The hard part is convincing others to do it too! Thanks for a great reminder.

    • Hi Jaime, oh yes I remember those days when my boys were little, I sometimes think they are just as messy now! You’re right, I feel the same good feeling when cutting back, that’s very interesting to think about, feeling good about cutting back :)

  4. Great idea! I’m looking forward to this series!

  5. Jayne, like you I switched to cloth many years ago but can’t remember exactly when. Mine aren’t vintage and many are from leftover sewing projects, but they work nicely. I have made several using cross stitch designs, unfortunately a couple disappeared. The grandchildren feel so special they begged to take one home each, their reason being they didn’t have their own napkins at home. I’m told it has saved on laundry as the little ones thinking its special wipe their faces on the napkins instead of their shirt sleeves.

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