One major peeve of mine which has gotten pet a lot since I returned to the US is gratuitous wastefulness. I’ve already written about excess packaging, the proliferation of disposable utensils, and individually wrapped products.
Well, I feel like paper napkins deserve their own post. It seems I can’t go to any lunch place without ending up with ten more napkins than I ever needed or wanted. Unless if I spill something, I don’t see why I would need more than one napkin per meal. Maybe two at most.
And yet the default allocation seems to be at least five napkins per customer per meal. Your bagel sandwich comes in a paper bag stuffed full of paper napkins; your salad is served to you on a tray with a pile of napkins on the side; and even if you order just a drink it is sometimes given to you with a napkin (?).
And the saddest thing is, once these napkins have been given to you, it is as though they have been “used,” even if you never touch them. You can’t shove them back into the napkin dispenser. So what do most people do? Throw them away. What a waste, all the more terrible for its sheer pointlessness.
Whenever possible, I try to stop people from giving me napkins in the first place. But many times, it’s unavoidable. In that case, I keep the napkins and bring them home to use at the house in lieu of purchasing, say, paper towels. Or, you could do like people in the developing world do, where they can’t afford wastefulness – not use any paper products at all, and simply wash your hands before and after the meal.