General Question

simone54's avatar

What's better for the environment (in California), regular plates or paper plates?

Asked by simone54 (7581points) July 29th, 2014

Now, obviously you need to cut down some forests to make a bunch of paper plates. I’m talking about in California where it hasn’t rained in eight months and you’ll have to wash those regular plates.

What’s better for the environment in the long run; cutting down the trees or wasting the precious water.

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13 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

These Biodegradable Compostable Plates might be a good alternative.

El_Cadejo's avatar

It takes a lot of water to produce a single paper plate. Around half a gallon per plate.

simone54's avatar

Well, there ya go. Can you elaborate on that?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think that anything that can be reused is better for any environment than anything that gets thrown away after one, maybe two uses.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@simone54 Here’s a general idea of how paper is made

There is also this article on Stanford’s site that breaks down the ecological footprint of a paper plate. The figure they quoted for water usage was actually 16 times higher than what I said in my first post. 8 gallons per plate. Makes sense though when ya think about what is said in the video above how it’s mixed at a 200:1 ratio of water:wood pulp in the process of refining the trees.

Smitha's avatar

Both cutting down the trees and wasting precious water are harmful. In India during auspicious occasions like wedding we have food on banana leaves.Its indeed a very environment conscious dining experience.Since the leaves are biodegradable it serves the environment as well.

Kardamom's avatar

@Smitha I love this idea. Beautiful and environmentally friendly.

Brian1946's avatar

A regular plate can usually be washed with just vinegar.

simone54's avatar

Thanks for all the great answers.

Except @Brian1946.

Brian1946's avatar


Vinegar’s a good, non-toxic, low-water cleaning agent.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@simone54 , @Brian1946 is correct, vinegar makes an excellent cleaning agent. The only “problem” I would see though is that the water consumption to raise the plants that are later turned into vinegar would be higher than actually just using water in the first place.

simone54's avatar

What? Am I going to go buy a 55-gallon drum of vinegar to clean my dishes?

Also, there is water in vinegar.

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