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May 28, 2017 / thegirlwiththedinotattoo

let’s eat!

When thinking about what to cover for this post, it can pretty much be summed up in one phrase: don’t use disposables, use real items. This is probably the easiest area of life to eliminate a lot of potential waste, stuff like plastic forks and paper plates, items that can easily be replaced by things you already have – you don’t even need to go shopping! Just look in your cupboards!
We have a set of cloth napkins that we keep on hand on our table, and you can see the

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The fish s&p shakers guard the napkins and protect your tastebuds

folded ones in front that I’ll reuse a few times until they should be washed (for those quick wipe of the mouth corners and brushing of crumbs). I also have a much larger set of cloth napkins for when we host a lot of people for parties or cookouts. Both sets I’ve found at thrift shops, but if you want to get all fancy there are tons of beautiful cloth napkin options out there. I prefer ones with patterns so that they hide any stains from beets, wine, oils, etc, so my guests and myself don’t question their cleanliness.

As for plates, just use your regular ones. Your guests will appreciate the fact that they’re not being served a cheap, flimsy paper one (and spilling their food on their legs because they’re eating on their lap at a cookout). This goes for silverware, too. Ditch the flimsy disposables and give the people some real utensils. If you need to get another set of dishes and silverware so that you’ll have enough for company, it will probably be worth it if you host a lot – just think of how much money would be spent on the disposables over the lifetime of a few extra plates! And if you purchase them from places such as Target or Ikea, not only will they be cheap but if one breaks or you end up wanting more, you can buy individual plates so you’re not stuck with another pack of 10.
sofie and i

I don’t have any pictures of my cookouts, so here’s an old pic of my niece showing me up with her use of a reusable sippy cup.

Now this may seem like a lot of extra clean up, but let’s be honest, washing all those extra dishes really doesn’t take that much longer – plates are the easiest things to wash, even if by hand. Utensils are not my favorite, so I usually dump them in whatever bowl or large container that also needs to be cleaned, and let them soak overnight in hot soapy water, and wash them the next day. I do have a dishwasher now which makes it easier, but we would host parties of 30+ people before, and trust me, the pile of dishes looks much more daunting than it really is, especially when your spouse is also cleaning. And if yours doesn’t clean, then maybe you should look at replacing that, too.

If you must use disposables, there are some great compostable options out there, just

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My leftover compostable items from my 30th birthday party (the silver star cups kept it classy).

make sure you get ones that are certified compostable and not just “biodegradable plastic”. That’s not a thing. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. See rant here about that. Anyways, I order the supplies for my church now and there’s a bunch of great looking and sturdy options for plates, cups with cute designs on them, and utensils made of corn resin that hold up really well.

If you’re hosting a big party like a cookout, make it easy for guests to know where to place items. At one big party, I had a small table set up next to the recycling bin outside – a basket for napkins (with one tossed in for an example), and a bucket for utensils (again an example utensil) and a bag for the compostable plates and cups. If you want to get all Pinterest and make cute signs for everything go for it, I don’t have time for that but it would probably help to prevent careless guests from tossing their bottle caps in the compost bags. This is particularly great because it also works as a conversation starter on why you’re so obsessed with trash and not making it, and how we need to be responsible consumers – you know, what everyone wants to talk about at a party!
If you’re going to someone else’s for a party and bringing a dish, a great saran-wrap alternative is using a beeswax cloth to cover your dish. The beeswax allows it to stick a bit to the side of the bowl and keeps food from getting nasty on the cloth, and just a quick warm water rinse gets it clean again! It’s not as secure as saran-wrap, but if I have

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The edges of my beeswax cloth are starting to fray, but that’ll happen after a few year’s use. Also, I have a set of 4 of these metal mixing bowls with silicone bases to keep them from sliding around, and secure lids – one of the best investments I’ve made in the kitchen.

something very liquid to transport, I’ll put it in a closed container anyways, or one of my bowls with a secure lid. When I first saw them, I thought the cloths were a bit pricey so i tried making a few myself. They work great, but if I ever need to replace them I will definitely not be making them again. That is one item that was not worth the effort, and it’s worth it to buy the professionally-made ones since you’re saving so much money on not buying disposables anyways!

So start hosting! And when guests compliment you on choosing to use real plates and utensils, feel free to brag about how much money you’re saving and waste you’re preventing. And then accept their offer to help clean up! Or relax and spend time with your guests, and let the dishes wait until tomorrow, they’re not going anywhere.
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