Saturday, February 9, 2013


Consider the humble napkin. Disposable paper, there when you need it, disposed of when you are done needing it. I have my own issues with things built to be disposable, but we need not go there at the moment.

They can be soft and fluffy and flimsy, to coarse and hard. There are advantages to either and anything in between, depending on what you need. There is no end of manufacturers to make them, and marketers to sell them.

They replace cloth, which needed to be laundered. I can remember people carrying around handkerchiefs, and what's more, actually using them. Blowing their nose, carefully folding it after, and putting it back in their pocket. The mind reels.

Most of us have table napkin rings, and haul them out for a fancy dinner party. But did you know their real purpose was to be individual, so you could roll up your napkin after a meal, twist it into your napkin ring, and be assured of getting your napkin back at the next meal? Really. Doing laundry was hard back in the day, so you weren't going to launder a cloth napkin after every meal.

In my wilder dreams, I've been to a world where everything has a scrap of personality. Everything is slightly alive, and the more complex it is, the more alive it is. Those things have a claim on us if they serve us well. There's a reason that IKEA lamp commercial was so popular. How many of you feel slight guilt at throwing away something functional, merely because a newer one exists?

The napkins, of course, are not very alive at all, yet on some level they still remember being trees. Beautiful, complicated, living trees. And we cut them down to make into napkins and other disposable products.

Our society has been all about making things easier for us. I wonder if we've gone too far. It's so easy for us here and now, that we forget how difficult it was not all that long ago. But who really wants to wash out poopy diapers? Nobody I expect, especially my buddy Shannon who is coping with twins while trying to hold his shirt over his nose. Or so he says. I expect he's over it now. Maybe we need to get over making things so easy for ourselves.

The run details are in an earlier post today, Running for Sherry. I should have set up the iPad to take a time lapse of outside. We've had short bits of beautiful warm sunny weather, and near white out conditions. It's a very spring-like day, but anyone that thinks spring is coming any time soon is deluding themselves.


  1. I cloth diapered my twins for the first two years of their lives...and without a laundry service. Cloth diapers became my favourite laundry to do - especially in the summer when I could see the beauty of pute white cotton hanging on my cloths line out back. But once I returned to work - and my 3 hours a day of commuting time - there was no time to keep going with it and they spent the next year in disposables. Hated every minute of it and I think it made them harder to potty train. BUt there is one other thing to note - when the time came to get rid of the cloth diapers...I had a lineup at the door willing to buy them. Funnily enough - no one wanted the used disposables....but the cloth ones paid for themselves in the end.

  2. Hi Keith. I've read your blog for a few months now and I just realized you "rant."
    Nobody loves a good rant more than me and Background and Preparatory Remarks, I
    don't have words. I promise to be back regularly. Keep 'em coming.

    1. Hi Ginger, thanks for reading and commenting. Not sure if you've seen the labels section just under my photo? You can get all my rants there. At least I think so. Sometimes I'm forgetful about tags. Since you mention the background preparatory remarks I've got a pretty good idea of which rant you read. Glad you liked it.

  3. In an effort to be kinder on Planet Earth, we switched to cloth napkins last year. We're not messy eaters, so we use one napking for most of the week. We (there's only two of us) each have our own color, so no getting mixed up. I can't tell you how much this has cut back on buying paper towels (which we used to use for the napkins). My little rebellion against this 'disposible society' we seem to be living in :)


Looking forward to reading your comment!