With Spring and Summer just around the corner, it is a good time to rethink using disposable dishes, glassware and cutlery and move to the more environmentally friendly option of renting these items. Not only is it better for the environment, it is shown to be better for your health, taste of your food and your pockets!
Re-usable dishware uses far less energy and resources over its lifetime than its disposable counterpart. Even with the energy and the water needed to wash items, the overall environmental impact is substantially less than single-use, throw-away items.
The plastic required for the manufacture of disposable dishes comes from refining fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource which creates air pollution and water pollution. Most of the plastics humans use today are slow to decay, remaining in landfills for centuries. Likewise, the creation of paper products, such as paper plates and cups, uses bleaching processes and cuts down vital ecosystems.
Another benefit is that renting vs. disposable is healthier. Many disposable products have human health impacts during production, often containing chemicals that can be harmful to you. Chemicals found on or used in the making of disposable paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, and other service-ware have been linked to everything from liver damage to cancer. Below is a list of chemicals found in disposable products:
Also known as styrofoam is classified as a human carcinogen by the EPA. EPA also listed polystyrene as the "5th largest creator of hazardous waste". The process to make it also pollutes the air and can be harmful to animals that might ingest it.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Found on paper plates, VOC's have been determined by the EPA to possibly contribute to both short and long term health problems.
Chlorine and Dioxins
Found in the bleaching of paper products is chlorine which along with health issues also leaves dangerous chemicals behind that end up in our water supply.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Today, plastic cups and plates may still contain BPA, which is known to cause early puberty and low sperm count - even with low exposure. Not only that, over 130 studies have linked it to breast cancer. It has also been linked to depression in Teens and obesity.
Sometimes found in paper plates and cups, phthalates are linked to breast cancer and are another item on the list of endocrine disruptors. They have been also linked to poor development of reproductive organs in male mice that were exposed prenatally. This toxin is found in so many other products, it makes sense to avoid it whenever possible.
Paper plates and cups are often treated with petroleum-based coatings, so that they do not fall apart when holding food or liquid. This plastic lining in paper cups is not recyclable so most paper cups and plates end up in the landfill.
Reusable ceramic plates are an obvious alternative to paper or plastic plates. Though more energy and resources are required to make a ceramic plate, a ceramic plate's lifetime is likely quite long, balancing out the initial environment cost. Also, when comparably, glassware only needs to be re-used 15 times to be more sustainable than paper products and reduces even lower vs. plastic. Using ceramic mugs or dishes rather than paper reduces material consumption, air and water pollution and solid waste after just 60 uses. The ceramic plates and mugs do not end up in our landfill sites taking centuries to break down. Over the past 5 years we have re-used our inventory of ceramic dinner plates over 53,500 times.
Many consumers are under the impression that it is easier and cheaper to go disposable, however this is often not the case. When you rent dishes they come to you clean. You simply use them and return them dirty and they are washed and made ready for their next use.
Here are some cost comparisons:
Costco Plastic Wine Glass 144 ct. $44.99. Rental Wine Glass 144 $57.60. Renting is zero waste and wine tastes much better in glass vs. plastic.
Party City Plastic Plates 20 ct. $7.49. Rental Dinner Plate 20 ct. $7.60. Only pennies difference and you do not have to worry about your plate falling apart and having food all over your lap.
Next time you have an event, make an environmentally correct decision and rent your dishes, cutlery and glassware. better for the environment and your guests will know the difference!