Does using paper napkins have a high carbon impact?

1 Answer 1


I found a few different references for this:

While several of these studies are looking at hand drying (for which I wrote an earlier answer), the Treehugger article looked specifically at napkins used during a meal, considering the manufacture as well as washing and drying.

Looking at linen, cotton, and paper napkins, the study found that paper napkins are best in a restaurant setting where cotton or linen napkins would likely be washed in hot water with chemicals after each meal.

For home use, linen napkins are preferable to cotton napkins (112 g CO2e vs 1 kg, respectively, for production), and both are better than paper if washed only when needed. Additionally, washing in cold water with a natural detergent and line drying will further reduce impact.

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