Should You Use Disposable Flatware and Plates When Hosting?
Hi everyone! Before I get started on this topic, I wanted to let you know that each week I'll be answering your questions about Modern Etiquette, particularly around entertaining. The first question comes to us from Irina, who asks about whether it is appropriate to use disposable plates when entertaining.
Now, whenever I write about about modern etiquette, I see that most people have a strong opinion in either direction. While doing research for this article, I stumbled upon this thread on Apartment Therapy. If you take a look at the comments, you might feel anxiety rising in your chest. Participants bring up manners, being raised "properly", being "grown up". In my humble opinion, the world is a vast place with so many different customs, expectations, etc. I don't believe in bullying anyone into doing something because it's "proper". I will share with you the pros of both sides, and we can take it from there.
For full transparency, let me tell you that personally, I don't use disposable things in the house much. The reasons for this are: financial, environmental, and personal preference. I would argue that any of these reasons are pros for not using disposable items when guests come over. Let's discuss.
Financial: I already have plates, cups, etc for 8 people in my home so it's more affordable for me to use those rather than buy more. If you don't have plates but entertain often, in the long run it would cost less to buy a simple set rather than constantly purchase disposables. My plates are from Canvas Home (hello, yearly sample sale).
Environmental: We try to limit our use of plastic in the house. Some might say that the water it takes to wash dishes is just as bad as buying plastic... I haven't done enough research to state whether this is true or not. However, trying to use less plastic wrap, bags, forks etc is a small effort I make to consume less.
Personal Preference: My final reason for using real flatware is just because I like it. I put a lot of thought and effort into my menu and I enjoy feeling the weight of a metal fork in my hand.
Now let's discuss the pros to using disposable stuff. First off, the biggest win here is obviously the easy cleanup. We all know how annoying it is to have to wash everything when everyone leaves, or even worse...the next morning. It's a royal pain in the ass. My answer to this problem is to have everyone help me clear plates and load up the dishwasher between dinner and desert. When you have a bunch of friends helping, it makes time move quicker. However, what if you don't have a dishwasher? What if you live in a tiny Manhattan apartment with a sink that's sized for a barbie doll? Been there, Done that. If that's your scenario, decide based on your emotions about the aftermath. Are you okay with washing dishes for an hour that night or the next morning? If so, more power to you! If not, who cares? Just use disposable plates! There is no need to stand on ceremony in my personal opinion. Your friends/family will be happy enough that you made the effort to have them over.
If you are using disposable items, look for plates or cups that are environmentally friendly. Check out this "tossware" I buy on Amazon.
I only have 8 wine glasses so whenever I have more people coming over, I turn to Tossware! It's very high-quality, doesn't ruin the table setting, and is BPA-free + recyclable.
My final verdict is that we shouldn't be judging hosts based on the kind of plates they use. Everyone has different circumstances (small sink, no dishwasher, limited budget for help/cleaning lady) and the better mental approach is to be gracious. Be a gracious guest, and be a confident host- no matter what you choose to do. You can still put so much effort into a party while using disposable plates! I firmly believe this. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you're thoughtful. About how you treat your guests, the earth, your friends. Do that, and your party will be a smashing success, no matter what you serve on.
What do you guys think about this topic? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? I'm curious to hear your perspective so please share in the comments below!
photos cannot be shared, downloaded or repurposed for any reason without written credit to Jane Poretsky + Be Like Family