Wise Bread asks, What can we buy to help us thrive in this recession?
I say one of the 'investments' you should make is cloth napkins. They're both environmentally friendly and budget boosting. Of course they're cheaper still if you make your own from no longer usable clothing or linens or from some fabric purchased long ago, but even if you have to make an 'investment' and purchase them outright, they're worth it. Quite often you can get them for .25 each at a thrift, donated by a non-frugal person who didn't stop to think that it doesn't matter if they match your decor - you only use them for a few minutes while eating then toss them into the laundry with the rest of your towels and kitchen linens.
Cloth napkins take up almost no space in the wash and add nothing to your regular laundry bill but you'll save the cost of purchasing that pack of plastic wrapped, disposable paper napkins you routinely toss into the shopping cart. You'll also save the cost of disposing of them, including sending them to the landfill.
Don't feel locked in to linens designed for use as napkins, either. You can use bandannas, washcloths, dishcloths, whatever you find at a good price or whip up from a no longer usable shirt or sheet. Last Memorial Day I brought a large bag of napkins I'd made to a barbecue to share. I displayed them in a basket and invited all in attendance to take home as many as they liked. Some folks were quite surprised to hear what the previous form of their favorites had been, most especially the palm tree decorated set that had been a 3X shirt from prior to my 80lb. weight loss that I just couldn't seem to part with. It was great to see someone fall in love with its second incarnation as much as I had!
So folks, let's all break the paper napkin habit, get hooked on cloth and save!