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Old 01/12/10, 02:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4,443
Paper plates or Wash?

Which do you think is cheaper? To use and throw away paper plates or spend the money on dishwasher detergent/dish soap, water or electricity for the water for those who is on thier own well, plus the cost of heating the water up and running a automatic dishwasher?

Seen a tip in one of my wife's magazines that she receives that said you can save money and time using paper plates and disposable wet towelet's to clean utensils and drinking cups.

Anyone do this?


r.h. in oklahoma

Raised a country boy, and will die a country boy.

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Old 01/12/10, 02:47 PM
Posts: n/a

I have 3 dogs. Why waste the electricity with washing!

You forget to factor in that to get the plate to your table means that you're paying somone to cut the tree down, haul it to the mill, make it into a plate, package it, send it to the store and you still have to haul it home. The whole process uses oil and natural reserves, too. Plus you now have trash to haul to the curb and you have to pay for a truck to come and take the trash away.

You don't need a dishwasher. Dishes can be washed by hand. You can get detergent for $1 or less with coupons or at the Dollar Store. You can collect water and sanitize it with a capful of bleach if you don't want to tax your well. If you let it air dry then you don't need towels. This way you can do a whole sink full of dishes for pennies. WAY less than the cost of the plates.

Besides, when you get in a fight you can't win if you're throwing paper plates at your Hubby! You need REAL ones for that!!!

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Old 01/12/10, 02:48 PM
Pink_Carnation's Avatar  
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Western Washington
Posts: 2,400

I think saving money would depend on which kind of paper plates you use as well as how you wash your dishes. I hate paper plates so I wouldn't try it. I also can't imagine that disposable towelets would be anything I want to use on my silverware and cups.


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Old 01/12/10, 02:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Dyersville, Iowa
Posts: 2,825

Washing the utensils & cups with wet towelettes sounds like the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

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Old 01/12/10, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 2,058

I wouldn't think hand washing would take much soap or electricity and if you do run your dish washer you can run it late at night.The rates are cheaper late and vinegar works well if you want to cut back on soap and is cheap.I'd be afraid that to just wipe my silverware and cups because of viruses and bacteria. Plus paper plates are high to me unless they are the thin paper ones that all fall apart or the foam ones that stay forever in the land fills.


"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." Henri Bergson

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Old 01/12/10, 03:09 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mid-Michigan
Posts: 4,040

I've seen the paper vs washing time/soap/water/electricity comparisons too.

For me, I wash! I think washable is more convenient that disposable; I only have to buy it once! Around my house, paper plates are for 'special' occassions, lol. My kids (12, 15, 16) get all excited when I say "get out the paper plates" because we so rarely use them!



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Old 01/12/10, 03:30 PM
MushCreek's Avatar  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Florida and South Carolina
Posts: 2,150

Reminds of the story about the newcomer that invited his pastor over for supper. The table was set, and the pastor couldn't help but remark as to how bright and shiny the dishes were. "What's the secret to your dishes", he asked. "Oh, we use cold water", was the reply. After supper, the pastor was getting ready to leave, when the biggest dog he's ever seen walked into the room. "Who's that?", he asked nervously. "That's Cold Water- don't worry, he don't bite!"


"What one generation tolerates, the next generation embraces." -John Wesley

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Old 01/12/10, 03:32 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 16,054

we use paper - Everything around here doesn't have to be cheaper anymore. Hurray. It is all about convenience for the maid.

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Old 01/12/10, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: NC---charlotte area
Posts: 878

I only use "good sturdy" paper plates when camping. Other than that I never buy them.

I am getting more against "disposable" items in life. I only buy those that I truly feel will make my situation easier, like camping. (most times camping I do use my regular plates, only a few paper plates are used.)

I have a dishwasher, don't use it. Only 3 of us and the few dishes can easily be done by hand. Never a monster load so why bother.

Towelettes for utensils....Bleck....nope, not for me..LOL

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Old 01/12/10, 03:40 PM
wy_white_wolf's Avatar
Just howling at the moon
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 5,213

I guess that might work for people that only cook prepared foods. Then you may as well eat it right out of whatever container it came in.

If you have to wash pots and pans you may as well wash the dishes right along with them.


If the grass looks greener it is probably over the septic tank. - troy n sarah tx

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Old 01/12/10, 03:44 PM
gone-a-milkin's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: MO
Posts: 10,117
Originally Posted by wy_white_wolf View Post
If you have to wash pots and pans you may as well wash the dishes right along with them.
This is my thinking too. You already have to fill the sink to wash the pans.

Cows may not be smarter than People, but some cows are smarter than some people.

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Old 01/12/10, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Arizona
Posts: 182

We do paper mostly because its just me and three kids all week and we burn our trash so no hauling to the dump. They come in very handy when the waterline freezes-- going on three weeks of that so I am thankful we have them.

When hubby is home we do normal dishes since we do fresh meals, while he is gone its all leftovers or quickstuff.

I still wash all untinels in HOT water--- only used the wipe method when camping and we forgot soap once--NASTY!!

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Old 01/12/10, 03:55 PM
thebaker's Avatar  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: SW Va
Posts: 846

Only time we use paper plates here is if have a party for the kids other than that we wash the plates due to us it cost more to buy paper plates then to wash dishes. I love to use my dishwasher but it's broken and will cost 300.00 to get fixed so wash plates by hand right now.

Could use cold water which is our dog to clean the plates first then wash them in hot water,.

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Old 01/12/10, 04:02 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,009

I use about a gallon of water to wash up a day or two's worth of dishes (it's just myself). And my quart bottle of Mrs. Meyers dish soap has lasted over 6 months. The very clean water discharged by our local waste treatment plant flows into a lake and creek at a wildlife area, so it's put to good use. Our landfills are filling up with too many silly disposable paper plates and cups and plastics as it is.

I haven't used a paper plate in decades.

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Old 01/12/10, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,300

I am anti disposble
i dislike the disposable mind set the use it and throw it away society angers me
I am not disposable as a person , to many companies treat thier employees as disposable

that said we used to get them for birthday parties and such , now even those use our regular plates that are washed

while it maybe would make economic sence to by a 3 dollar pack 24 plates for 1 or 2 people it quickly looses any cost gain is quickly lost when you have more plates
we have an avg use of 6 plates or bowls a meal pluss glasses and silver ware a sink of water and a tea spoon of soap makes the most cost effective dishes for us.

we would be using a 24 pack of plates every day at 3 dollars = 90 dollars a month , i can tell you my combined water electric (electric hot water) bill is only a few dollars more a month
water electric and sewer come to aprox 6 dollars a day for 5 people to bath, clean ,cook and flush , have light , run the furnace blower , washer and dryer so 1.20 a person a day is not to bad if you figure in soap and tooth paste a dollar thirty

what i really want is for products like peanut butter , mayo , jelly and other such jared items to come in reusable canning jars that i can was and reuse to can other things in.

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Old 01/12/10, 04:35 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 10,724

My neighbors eat off of paper plates, for some reason they always seem to escape their trash and I'm always picking them up out of my pasture if there's the slightest wind


I saw something nasty in the woodshed

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Old 01/12/10, 04:39 PM
Xander's Mom
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Rainier, WA
Posts: 584

I can't wrap my mind around the idea of using paper plates as a regular everyday thing. You still need to run the dishwasher or hand wash the utensils and pots and pans. You might be able to get cheap paper plates but they are a very wasteful commodity. Do we really want to cut down our forests for disposable plates? They make more environmentally friendly alternatives (plates made from the waste material in sugar-- they can go into the compost pile) but then they will cost more. I can see keeping some on hand for when you're without water but as an everyday thing it seems wasteful and I can't see how it could be cheaper. You buy regular dishes once, and washing them does not cost much at all. Plus you're never going to run out if someone forgot to put new plates on the shopping list.

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Old 01/12/10, 04:53 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Kitsap Co, WA
Posts: 2,866

I hate paper plates. I hate styrofoam cups. I hate plastic utensils. If it's worth eating or drinking, and needs more than a paper napkin to hold it with, then I use real. I like real. Things taste better on real. (Chinese food tastes better when eaten with chopsticks, too!)

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Old 01/12/10, 05:01 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MS
Posts: 24,557

I tried using paper plates way back when I was in college. Wasn't long before I realized my silverware supply was starting to dwindle. One night a friend was eating with us and went with the kids (preschoolers) to the kitchen when I told them to throw away their paper plates. He came back in the living room laughing and informed me that the kids were throwing the silverware in the garbage with the paper plates!

We don't use paper plates here. I don't like our throwaway society and refuse to participate in it. Plus, I never found paper plates to be much of a money saver...especially after I priced replacement silverware!!!

I'm running so far behind I thought I was first!
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Old 01/12/10, 06:37 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: SE Mass zone 6a
Posts: 1,029

You forget the cost of having all these paper plates piled up in landfills. Imagine how many you use in the course of the week. That's a lot of trash.



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Old 01/12/10, 06:58 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Outside Charlotte NC
Posts: 7,632

I have paper plates and plastic cups and utensils for power outages or cookouts. Other than that I hand wash in a sink full of soapy water, or use the dishwasher a few times a week. For me it's a matter of not spending money on things I can't use for years. The tablets I use in the dishwasher are 15 cents apiece at Costco, and the Dawn dish soap I use is about 15 cents for a sink load too. Not sure the cost of paper plates and items, but I'm too cheap to use them daily.


Serving Children Since 1994.

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Old 01/12/10, 07:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Southeastern US
Posts: 396

I use them off and on for convenience. It's nice when you are the chief cook and bottle washer.


Last edited by Tim1257; 01/12/10 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 01/12/10, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: N.E. Oklahoma
Posts: 3,587

I use paper plates. It's just 2 of us and the only reason I want to eat out sometimes is I get tired of doing dishes. Each to his own.

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Old 01/12/10, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: SE NM
Posts: 249

I use paper plates for a sandwich at lunch. Hubby is a chemo patient (takes a platinum type chemo) so he uses plastic silverware as our regular flatware makes his food have a metalic taste due to the chemo. I do wash the plastic silverware and reuse it. Also use disposable cups for one of his liquid meds. When we eat dinner we eat from REAL plates and I handwash our dishes.

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Old 01/12/10, 07:51 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Western WA
Posts: 4,636

We use paper plates sometimes depending on the use and situation at the time.

It supports the timber industry and because it is a renewable source it makes me a good steward of the environment. Paper plates can be burned and turned into heat energy or they can be recycled back into paper products.

I buy quality 10" paper plates for $11.54 per the 170 pack, which is about $.07 per plate.

I installed a new energystar dishwasher last year that is purported to use electricity:

315 kWh per year, figured on 4 loads per week @ 10.65 cents per kWh (2007 rates) = $34 annual electricity costs. Doesn't factor in the water or soap.

The dishwasher is said to use 4 gallons of water per wash cycle.

The dish-washing soap is $9.00 for 250 oz.

For those assuming that washing by hand is less expensive and/or more efficient than using a dishwasher, things may not always be as they seem.

Dishwashers save more water than washing by hand?

Dishwashers, Energy Star, water efficiency and the environment. A consumer guide.


Last edited by Wayne02; 01/12/10 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 01/12/10, 08:02 PM
Pony's Avatar
Shifting My Paradigm
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: South Central Missouri
Posts: 19,025
Originally Posted by nandmsmom View Post
You forget the cost of having all these paper plates piled up in landfills. Imagine how many you use in the course of the week. That's a lot of trash.
Hey, those paper plates (paper towels, paper cups) will break down quite readily in the compost pile. Why send them to the landfill when you can use them to add carbon to the compost heap?
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Old 01/12/10, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: KY
Posts: 11,202

I have a built-in dishwasher that I don't use because I actually do enjoy washing the dishes and pots and pans. It's one of the few household activities that doesn't require strength I don't have to do.

I keep paper plates and plastic utility ware to use as my "good china". LOL!! I don't own a set of good china and never have. I don't give over limited shelf space for china and crystal.

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Old 01/12/10, 09:30 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: near Abilene,TX
Posts: 5,224

I love dishes. I find so many pretty plates at garage sales for a dime or a quarter. I do not care that they do not match...I love the patterns...disposables are wondeful in emergency situations such as no power, or alot of company, but I just love dishes. I love big bowls, too.

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Old 01/12/10, 09:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 259

For environmental sustainability reasons I prefer washing to paper plates. You can't recycle the paper plates because they are considered contaminated with food. I look at it as I'm helping preserve trees.

While they may be convenient I think a couple of other posters have also indicated that most of us have sinks full of water to wash the pans with so what's a few more plates in the mix.

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Old 01/12/10, 10:01 PM
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Too many fat quarters...
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: SW Nebraska, NW Kansas
Posts: 8,236

Beyond a doubt, the dishwasher is cheaper!

(We don't pay our utilities. )

And on the subject of china, I use my "wedding china" every day.
Corelle Ware

SAHM, ranch wife, sub and quilt shop proprietress

the Back Gate Country Quilt Shop

Last edited by ErinP; 01/12/10 at 10:03 PM.
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