Social Question

jca's avatar

In your home, do you use disposable plates (i.e. styrofoam, paper or plastic) for every day use, or would you use them for company, if it were not a large crowd?

Asked by jca (28612 points ) December 29th, 2012

I was not raised in a house where we ever used disposable plates, except if there was a big party. For every day, or when company came, we used regular ceramic plates. However, I have noticed more and more that other people use styrofoam or paper plates either on a regular basis or when company comes (maybe not for the whole meal, but for dessert course).

In your household, do you use disposable plates on a regular basis or would you use them for company, if it were not a large crowd?

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31 Answers

glacial's avatar

No. Unless it’s an extremely large gathering, I find that weird (and wasteful).

tom_g's avatar

No. Very rarely we will use paper plates if we have cake and ice cream for one of the kids’ birthday parties. But most of the time we can get away with our regular plates. It only takes one event to realize how much we are contributing to a landfill. It’s disgusting.
I didn’t know styrofoam plates still existed.

janbb's avatar

Only for a large gathering. I was shocked when I stayed at a friend’s during the storm and they use paper plates regularly.

dabbler's avatar

Similar to @glacial and @janbb we’ll use some paper plates for a big party.
But even for takeout we use regular plates, and our own plain cloth napkins.
Sometimes it’s hard to get the food vendor to not give us paper plates and forks, knives, napkins.

tinyfaery's avatar

No, though I have used them at events and such. Most paper is recyclable anyway. I don’t feel guilty about it.

Jeruba's avatar

We use stoneware for everyday meals, whether or not guests are present, and wash our dishes by hand. We have china for special occasions, but I seldom break it out any more.

For a party I would use heavyweight paper plates with a design that matched the theme or color scheme of the event.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I hate doing the dishes and my wife while certainly good at some tasks, doesn’t like doing the dishes. LOL

Ela's avatar

I use them in the microwave when I have them (usually left over from birthdays or parties with the kids). Never use them at the dinner table.
I would never use them for company unless it was a large crowd, then I get the more expensive disposable plates, matching napkins and silverware. Everything has to match or coordinate nicely.

marinelife's avatar

I have used them for parties, but I don’t like to.

hearkat's avatar

We have a dishwasher, so we use regular plates for everything. When My son and I lived with my mother, we did not have a dishwasher, so we used paper plates for sandwiches and snacks. Generally, I think it is wasteful to use disposable items, but to wash so many dishes by hand uses more water and takes up so much time (which to me is more precious than money), so I felt it was reasonable.

muppetish's avatar

We never own disposable plates or cups, but we also never have large gatherings at my house. We’re a family of shut-ins. We do, however, have disposable napkins and that is something that I want to push to change.

wundayatta's avatar

No. It’s very not green. Tossing all that rubbish. Yes, it takes time to clean reusable dishes and yes I understand the desire not to have all that work to do, but if it’s that bad, hire someone to wash for you. Otherwise, wash them yourself and be thankful for the planet that gives us life.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I use them for snacks and sandwiches and then recycle them as cat food plates for the cats wet food.
Soap, water, propane to heat the water, or run the dishwasher is more expensive than using some paper products. I always have a stack of nice, decorative paper plates on hand.
They are also preferable to the ceramic pet bowls that need to be wiped out of the leftover food and washed.
The paper cat food plates are folded up to contain the nasty leftover cat food and sealed in recycled bread bags that I save.
No guilt here, not one little bit.

reijinni's avatar

We use regular plates for normal use.

hearkat's avatar

@wundayatta – As a single mom, I couldn’t afford to pay someone to clean for me (that’s why we had to live with my mom – who was still commuting by bus into manhattan every day to work herself). Buying a big stack of super cheapo paper plates that cost pennies each was a reasonable trade off of time vs. money for that decade of my life. I wasn’t getting the thick or coated or styrofoam stuff. We’d put them in with the paper recycling if there wasn’t any liquid on them.

In addition to using only real dishes now, we also have cloth napkins, but I need to get more because we go through those in a couple days and I do laundry about once a week. I try to use cloth rags for cleaning, too; but sometimes the disposable paper towels are better suited to the job. I also am trying to influence the others in the house to think more ecologically, as well. Some days I feel like the eco-police pulling stuff out of the trash and reminding them that it can go in recycling, reminding them to turn off lights, etc.

@Coloma – We rarely give our cats anything but dry, but on those occasions, we do use our ceramic or Pyrex bowls and add it to the dishwasher – we aren’t running the dishwasher unless it’s full, so an additional bowl doesn’t add to the cost. Their dry food and water are also in the ceramic plates.

newtscamander's avatar

No, for my housewarming I did, though, because we didn’t have any ceramic plates yet.

I think they are a trend for children’s birthday parties though, because hosts fear their real plates would suffer otherwise.

Coloma's avatar

@hearkat I do the same about half the time, and yes, only run my dishwasher about every 2 weeks. I also have a ceramic feeding and water bowl station for the dry food and water.

SABOTEUR's avatar

It had to happen eventually.

The Question I’m Embarrassed To Answer!

My family uses paper plates almost all the time.

Wasteful…yes…but anything…including destroying the planet…is worth being freed from hearing my wife complain.

(Good Lord…I think I hear her now…!)

mrentropy's avatar

There’s a total of one person in my household and I lean towards disposable. It would be different if there were more than person, though. I still user silverware but if I could find a plastic fork and knife that wouldn’t break on a steak (yes, poet, etc.) I’d probably use those, too.

I can’t answer about a large group because the chances of ever having more than one person in this place are so astronomical that even Las Vegas bookies wouldn’t cover it.

glacial's avatar

@tinyfaery Soiled paper plates are not recyclable. They might be compostable. Recyclable plates and utensils made of sugar seem to be a thing now… but I’m not sure how I feel about that. :/

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @mrentropy us single peeps tend towards convenience, but hey…I make up for my paper plate moments in many other ways.
Pick your poison, there’s plenty of it, as always.

glacial's avatar

But aside from the waste issue – does anyone else think it’s disrespectful to serve your guests on paper plates? I mean barbecues and garden parties, ok… but surely that’s really unusual for a dinner party among grownups.

wundayatta's avatar

It seems mildly disrespectful. But I’ve seen it done on many occasions, under a variety of circumstances. We’ve done it at birthday parties and summer cookouts and such. Depends on the guests, too. Depends on the level of formality. I would never do it for a formal dinner party. It would spoil a lot of the fun, anyway.

Coloma's avatar

I agree, not for any formal event, but casual get togethers, sure.
I LIVE on my deck in summer and use both nice paper plates and glassware.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma No mosquitos, I guess? Or is it screened in?

bookish1's avatar

No. I only use disposable utensils and napkins if I get them with takeout.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta A few, but nothing major. No screening, just the view from the rail. :-)

cookieman's avatar

Same answer as @Jeruba, except… my wife loves using paper plates. I fight her on it constantly. Often, I’ll have a stoneware plate while she’s eating off of a paper plate.
Yes, I’m that stubborn.

Only138's avatar

I love paper plates and stuff. They are an important part of my bachelor living.

downtide's avatar

I have enough plates to cater for 8 people. If I was entertaining more than that, I’d use disposable ones. The only other time I use disposable plates is for outdoor parties and barbecues. Paper plates dropped on the patio don’t break.

cutiepi92's avatar

My family doesn’t use disposable stuff often, just occasionally. My boyfriend and his mother however use nothing but disposable plates, forks, spoons, etc. I find it strange and really dislike it, but it’s not my house so I don’t say anything. Less cleaning I guess…

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