Cloth Napkins & Resolutions

Good stewardship seems like such an important trait, yet one I habitually struggle with. I don’t tend what I own well enough, and I create more waste than I am comfortable with. I’ve tried incremental improvement with mixed success, and think it’s time for another step.

The inspiration for this is a post I just read at on using cloth napkins. This echoed my happy experience of switching back to cloth a couple of years ago, and inspired me to ask “what other easy adjustments can I make?”

I’ve been a lazy environmentalist: unless it was easier than tossing it away, I found it hard to stick to my resolutions. Sure, I recycle cans and bottles, but I sometimes throw away the junk mail (gasp!). I use cloth napkins and natural dish liquid, but I leave the water on while I brush my teeth. I garden, but often fail to feed the compost pile because the kitchen scraps get smelly and gross before I empty them out. I don’t litter, but my car’s a god-awful mess. I drive too much, but I do have a nifty, high-mileage Scion. I use all compact fluorescent bulbs, but there are 2 I leave on 24/7 so I’m never in the dark, even by accident.

I could go on…. in fact, I will.  I feed the birds (good) but buy the seed anywhere I find it cheap, even Walmart (bad). I wash the clothes in cold water (good), but use the dryer (bad). I often toss away those stupid 20 oz. water bottles when I’m on the road (just plain bad). I bring my own bags (good), but use disposable plastic containers for leftovers (bad).

Does anyone else have the same love/hate relationship with good stewardship? My younger friends all seem so in tune with being good tenders of our planet — many of them in a loving and nonjudgmental way that makes me want to do better. Some of my sins I attribute to imperfect re-conditioning from a profligate childhood, environmentally speaking. Others to sheer laziness.

Resolved: I will begin composting again and recycling paper more responsibly.

I’m learning to be kind to myself in the long haul as well as the short, so I will give myself an ample learning curve and commit to changing my composting habits a step at a time.

1) Clean out the kitchen compost bin I used last year and replace the charcoal filter.

2) Begin to save all the non-meat kitchen scraps and small yard waste.

3) Actually turn the compost bin by mid-summer.

4) Use the compost (the step I forgot last summer).

After I’ve started the composting habit again, I will become more conscientious about paper. I have an old plastic bin in the yard whose lid is long gone. If I clean it up, it would be a great place to stash junk mail and magazines. Newspapers have to be bundled separately for pick-up, so they can go in the bin I already have.

Long experience with effective goal-setting has taught me two major skills. Accountability and imposing a deadline. Therefore, I announce to the world at large that I will get the compost started again tonight, and begin recycling paper by the end of the week.

I’ll report back on how my better stewardship plan goes.


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