Reusable Dishes and Eating Utensils
The use of paper plates, plastic eating utensils and other disposable items is common in Jewish homes and institutions.
While there is some question about the health hazards of using certain types of plastic items, there does not seem to be anything unhealthy about using disposable items in our celebration of Jewish life. However, this is a narrow vision of what is healthy and unhealthy. The fact is that whatever we "throw away" must eventually end up in a landfill and here is where we find serious problems.
For starters, we have nearly depleted our available space in landfills.
Numerous communities across the United States are seeking to expand or start new landfills. The infamous, Staten Island Landfill, was closed in 2000 and millions of tons of waste are now being hauled to whatever state will accept the stuff. In addition, many landfills are located within 100 yards or less of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Despite waterproof liners designed to keep the waste from leaching into the soil and eventually contaminating the water, this is a frequent occurrence. (More often than not, the problem is only discovered when residents downstream suddenly discover their well water is contaminated.)
The fact is (and has been for the past 25 years) that 75% of what ends up in a landfill is paper products that could be recycled.