Paper Napkins Are Dying a Slow Death Thanks to Millennials

While a big, absorbent roll of tissue may not be the most aesthetically pleasing accoutrement on your dinner table, it seems to be the main choice among consumers who see buying flimsier paper napkins as redundant.

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Mar 30 2016, 5:00pm

If there is one upside to the crushing debt incurred to over-educated Millennials around the world, it's a certain "I don't give a fuck anymore" attitude when it comes to dropping money on food.

From spending untold amounts on brunch and takeout, to eating pizza and Slurpees with reckless abandon, the underlying approach of Millennials towards eating seems to be, in a word, YOLO. And they don't really like to cook or do dishes either.

It's not surprising, then, that a generation which spent formative years in college dorm rooms and apartments doesn't really exactly care for buying paper napkins.

READ MORE: Millennials Don't Like Cereal Because They Hate Doing Dishes

A recent survey undertaken by Mintel marketing intelligence agency found that only 56 percent of consumers purchased paper napkins in the last six months, while 86 percent purchased sturdier and more expensive paper towels. This would suggest that people are wiping their hands and mouths with the same stuff that they use for messy wine spills.

While a big, absorbent roll of tissue may not be the most aesthetically pleasing accoutrement on your dinner table, it seems to be the main choice among younger consumers who see buying flimsier paper napkins as redundant.

But for all of their practicality, paper towels carry a heavy burden on the environment—even the ones made from recycled materials—generating an estimated 70 percent more carbon emissions than alternatives like electric hand dryers. Like other forms of paper, they contribute to deforestation, water pollution, and global warming. Luckily, they can be composted.

Paper napkins aren't much better when it comes to the environment either though, and the time may be right for a reusable cloth napkin revival. And if you eat at restaurants as often as Millennials do, who really needs napkins at home anyway?