I wonder how many unused paper napkins are thrown away each year.
Napkin waste is a hot-button issue for me. I once saw a man at Chipotle throw away a stack of 15 unused napkins and contemplated stabbing him in the face.
"You can clean up the mess with all those napkins you threw away."
But what could he have done with those napkins? Kept them? I wouldn't have wanted to do that. He stopped at Chipotle for food, not napkins.
He could've restocked the napkins, but, potential physical difficulty aside, they would've been perceived as unsanitary.
And if he had just left the napkins on his table, as I saw one couple do at the same Chipotle last week, an employee probably would've thrown them away.
He should never have been allowed to grab 15+ napkins in the first place.
I spent my weekend pondering a more economical way for restaurants to supply paper napkins, and I'm not sure one exists.
You could suggest a number of napkins for each menu item, but a suggestion is not a requirement.
Charging customers for additional napkins on top of a set number might drive business away.
My best solution: You know how a supermarket self-checkout machine will forbid you from scanning another item until it registers the weight of a scanned item? Well, create a machine that will only dispense another napkin when it registers that your current napkin has absorbed a certain amount of weight. Integrate a scale with a napkin dispenser. You receive the initial napkin from a cashier.
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