I suspect collusion. The paper napkins I’ve been receiving at several lunch establishments I frequent have gotten noticeably thinner. I blame my dry cleaners. They have directly benefitted from this backward trend, as my business with them has increased. With this, my pants are wearing out more quickly. So maybe those manufacturers are in this as well? Which probably leads to the real culprit: the cotton industry that supplies the fabric. I’m sure their sales have seen an upward tick. That product, of course, relies on a multitude of agrochemicals, undoubtedly brewed by some of the same companies supplying the wood pulp industry. It’s a brilliant scheme: reduce the inputs into one product, requiring greater overall consumption, not less, (At one particular establishment, I’m averaging 3 of the newer, thinner napkins where 1 thicker, superior serviette used to suffice). Then they pick up significant secondary benefits as the consequences of that action ripple through multiple supply chains, right back to one of their other products! It’s all connected. Unless we get more adept at systems thinking, we’re going to increase the havoc we’re imposing on the environment, one handful of cheap napkins at a time.
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