Day 4 would have been a zero plastic day if I didn’t have to leave my house. We attended a fundraiser for my son’s school, and the cups and utensils were plastic. Big sigh. I talked about it with a friend there, and she pointed out that the alternative, bringing your own cups and utensils everywhere, would be judged harshly.
“You could do it,” she said, “but you would look like the crazy person who brings their own fork and cup everywhere you go.”
I don’t care much about being judged. The real problem is that it’s a hassle. Bringing it is the easy part. Cleaning it and getting it home is the hard part. Am I supposed to wander around downtown Oakland with dirty silverware and a portable wine glass all night? (People in Napa do this. They wear a giant wineglass on a lanyard around their neck and they look like disgusting lushes. Which I might be, but I don’t want to be seen as one. Okay, maybe I do care about being judged.)
The obvious option is real silverware and drink ware that can be washed in a dishwasher. People seem to think that’s a hassle too. While she was running our kids’ weekly pizza day program, a friend of mine switched from paper plates and towels to melamine plates and cloth napkins. Loading the industrial dishwasher took barely ten minutes, and the napkins could be washed all together in a mesh sack, but the woman who took over the following year deemed it a “hassle” and went back to disposable. At a supposedly “zero waste” school.
What we deem to be a hassle really depends on what we are worried about, I guess. Maybe we should be taxed on our trash in a way that more evidently ties waste to its effects on the planet. We want it out of sight, out of mind. If we had to live amidst our trash, we would find that to be a huge hassle (I hope).
Maybe we need to tell people they can use disposable, but they have to bring it home with them to throw out. It’s much easier to rinse off my real fork and toss it in my purse than it is to carry a paper plate formerly covered in Mexican food around with me all night. That would be a huge hassle.