Welcome to GreenItUp, a database of common items, and how to reduce, reuse, and recycle them.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Paper Napkins

Paper napkins are meant to be used and disposed of. If you want to lessen the number of napkins entering the waste stream, go for reduce.


Be classy and use cloth napkins. Oh, you so fancy.

Take only what you need. Yeah, I know you… going to McDonald’s and grabbing a stack of napkins, then either actually wasting them all (see next tip), or having a smaller stack leftover. Then, you either just throw that stack away or you leave it on the table like you’re doing anyone a favor. Yeeeah, sure, I’m gonna sit down at that table and take random leftover napkins and wipe my mouth with them. Whatever.

Most napkins are folded. Thanks to modern technological breakthroughs, recent studies have revealed that napkins can be unfolded. Most likely, whatever you’re wiping will not soak eight layers deep through a folded napkin. Unless you’re cleaning a spill, unfold the napkin (to two-layer is usually comfortable and practical) and use it multiple times, each time using a different region. Congratulations! You’re saving the world! :o D Does not apply to buffalo wings.


Ummm… actually, please don’t.


Don’t try to recycle used napkins. Paper + food + liquid/grease = not good for recycling.

You can try composting used napkins, as long as there’s not much grease on them.

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