‘Greener You’ Challenge #21 – Ditch Disposables

Do you remember that scene from Mad Men when the Drapers go on a family picnic? At the end of the meal, Betty pulls up the blanket scattering their trash across the grass – and they simply walk away from it. It is shocking.

During the summer, and particularly on holidays, we can be more inclined to reach for disposables when serving a crowd or eating outside. At the end of the meal, plastic cups and cutlery, paper plates and napkins, all get tossed into a Hefty bag destined for a landfill (or the ocean).

Did you know…

  • The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.(*Source: EcoWatch)
  • More than 40% of plastic is used just once before it becomes trash.
  • 500 billion disposable cups are consumed every year and take 450 years to decompose.
  • Single-use utensils can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

I don’t think anyone feels good about these statistics…or the Hefty bag. What does feel good is eating outside in a way that’s not harmful to Earth. So, this summer, ditch disposables by finding a more sustainable way to dine al fresco!

Here are a few things that have helped us:

Buy a set of reusable plates. My mom uses melamine – they are lightweight, dishwasher safe, and won’t break. You can also purchase sets made from recycled plastics.

Use real cutlery. Consider bringing the real stuff – pack a container to store and transport the dirty cutlery, then pop it in the dishwasher when you get home. Or buy reusable cutlery – we have a few sets of these, too, especially for travel.

Keep a set of acrylic or shatterproof-plastic glasses or use mason jars. We have all-purpose stemless wine glasses for bigger gatherings (they’re less expensive) and we have more durable acrylic tumblers for family picnics and barbecues when we need fewer. We’ve used these glasses umpteen times over the years without needing to replace one.

If you don’t want to purchase a new set of glasses, use old mason jars. I keep nearly every large jar we empty and save them for food storage and drinks on-the-go.

Bring cloth napkins. Buy a fun set and reuse them again and again.

If you really need to use disposables, buy the eco-friendly, compostable stuff. We have used Susty Party in the past (they have very cute things), but the price tag was enough to inspire us to the above alternatives

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