Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to find one way to reduce plastic usage by using the real thing instead of disposables on the table.
How to Reduce the Use of Plastics
It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure Monday Mission.
Click each idea for more details on how to reduce the use of plastics in your home; they are more or less ordered as Baby Steps –> The easiest is first and then gets more involved.
- No more disposable plates at dinner!
- Use real utensils, paper plates at your next gathering.
- Use real dishes at your next gathering.
- Yes, pitchers and cups; No, plastic water bottles!
1. Use Less Plastic by Using Real Plates at Dinner
What can I say? If you’re regularly using disposable plates, bowls, cups, utensils, ETC. at normal meals in your home, please consider the earth and switch to the real thing. (Unless you’re Michelle Duggar and have 18 children. Then, you do what you have to do to survive!) It pains me every time we eat at my in-laws because their dishwasher sits there in perfect working condition while we eat off thick, plastic plates and then throw them away.
2. Reduce Plastic Usage by Using Real Utensils and Paper Plates With Company
In my opinion, the thick plastic disposable utensils and sturdy plastic or styrofoam plates, while convenient, make an awful lot of waste when tossed. Plastic takes a loooooong time to biodegrade, and I believe it’s rather costly, environment-wise, to produce.
If you’re hosting a big get-together anytime soon, I challenge you to use real utensils, which aren’t all that hard to toss in the dishwasher or even clean by hand. I also vote the hassle of floppy paper plates over the waste of plastic. Even if you switch to the thicker, cardboard-style plates instead of plastic, keep the earth in mind when you make the purchase.
UPDATE: I was reminded by a reader in the comments about the corn-based biodegradable plates and utensils. You can find utensils at 3 Green Moms for starters. They’re a bit pricier than standard, but if you’re serious about the Earth and about not doing dishes after a party, this is one way to go.
I had disposable plates on my shopping list when I hosted a Pampered Chef party a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until it became a hassle to purchase them that I realized: “Duh, Katie. You’re trying to save the earth here. Serving 15 women on real plates isn’t going to be that hard!” I thought of paper plates because that is the status quo for hosting a party. It’s time to change the definition of “normal” and make a statement by using real plates.
I even took it one step further and had fun serving with my good china. I absolutely love the pattern we chose and received for our wedding, and it gets used once a year or less. Why not make it a fancy PC party and just enjoy it? I stuck them in the ol’ dishwasher without rinsing, made sure they were completely cooled before removing them to preserve the gilded edge, and it was so fun!
Yes, this generated more dishes, some of which had to be done by hand. Yes, if you know me at all, you know how I feel about dishes (they’re right up there with the proverbial root canal, and, say, my house burning down). This night I was pleased to have made the “green” choice and remembered to offer up my time in the kitchen for good prayer intentions. It was worth it.
I almost cry when I see single-use, single-serve plastic water bottles being used when a sink is mere yards away and cups- even disposable cups! – are available. The tiny 8 oz. bottles nearly give me fits, because people always need more than one with a full meal. So much waste is generated by plastic water bottles, whether they’re recycled or (as is the case at most parties) not. The fuel needed to transport the (very heavy!) water to the store is only one part of the story.
The next time you’re responsible for the drinks at a party, try a pitcher and cups, whether disposable or not. At least do your part to avoid plastic water bottles if they’re not absolutely necessary.
UPDATE: In 2020 I’ve now been using both cloth napkins and hankies for a decade, and I’ll never look back! It’s totally the norm for our family, and it’s still really easy. Shall I move to the next level? Check out my reusable alternatives to toilet paper, paper towel, and more right here!
At what level are you tackling your disposables this week? It’s always the perfect time to cut up a blanket or start a new habit of reusing napkins, so put “decrease disposables” on your to-do list. Thanks for saving the earth with me!
See all of Decreasing Disposables here.
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.