civil sustainability

entertaining with style- making it work for you

Categories: Setting the Stage, Posted on June 25, 2017 by Sandy Bergsten

I just returned from the GCA Zone X Meeting in Cincinnati. The Town and Country Garden Club put together an outstanding conference. 

The two-day event beautifully accentuated the regal splendor of their Queen City on the Ohio River. Not only were the gardens and vistas spectacular, the lineup of speakers was impressive and made a real impact on everyone present.

One of the keynote speakers, Len Sauers, a professor of sustainability at Xavier University and former VP of Global Sustainability at Proctor and Gamble, spoke to us about climate change and water scarcity. His focus was not just on what was happening globally but how we as individuals can make a real difference.

Who knew that if everyone in our country washed their clothes in cold water that we would meet 5% of our carbon emission reduction goal. Another was to swap out a paper product for a more sustainable one. He used paper napkins as one example.

When he mentioned the difference switching to cloth napkins and using napkin rings to help identify them, I sat a little taller in my seat. Little did I realize the global forethought in the throw-back way I’ve always set my daily table. There is something civil in sitting down to dinner. My entire adult life I’ve served my evening meal at the dining room table, each person with their own place.

During the mid-eighties as a newlywed in New York City I slowly began collecting silver napkin rings. They beautifully and clearly marked which napkin belonged to which person, allowing for repeated use and fewer washings. Back then my only thought was on conserving my own energy, not the world’s.

As my family grew so did my collection.

Now this might sound stuffy to some, but I encourage you to giving this swap a try. Cloth napkins can be found almost anywhere and at any price point. Personally, I prefer the white cotton napkins from William and Sonoma. They have great heft, so if I quickly take them out of the dryer and smooth them out I usually don’t need to iron them. And because they are white, I can bleach them if they become stained.

In Ohio I use my silver napkin rings. Out west I have a collection of pewter ones I got at Pottery Barn. Both go perfectly with my everyday stainless. Why don’t you find some that reflect your own personality and style.

Next time I’m at the store I’ll pick up cold water wash detergent. The technology in the formula ensures a brighter wash than regular detergent in warm water.

Elegantly conserving is as easy as 1-2-3!


June 27, 2017

LOVE THIS POST, Sandy.... reflects my sentiments exactly...however my motives were not thinking I was necessarily 'saving trees' (until much older and wiser!!!) but instead, saving both time and $$--using cloth napkins is not only lovely (and harkens back to one's own childhood when lovely paper products were not so easily available) ....and special!....but does save $$$$!!! esp for a newly wed!!! your silver napkin ring collection sets the bar high on collecting silver napkin rings!! lovely!!!!

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