Today is the day to celebrate this awesome planet that we call home.
The first Earth Day was celebrated 45 years ago when millions of people rallied together to make a difference in the environmental destruction that we were creating to our planet. We have done much since then to improve our habits, but there is still so much more that we can do.
Although RV living provides a host of opportunities to lessen our ecological footprint, there are still the little things, the things that you don’t really think of until one day a random thought pops into your head and you spend several hours researching the answer to some random question.
Take today for example, I was eating my lunch when one of those random thoughts crept in and I spent 3 hours learning whether using paper plates has less of an ecological impact than using hot water and dish detergent to wash the dishes?
Here is what I have learned:
It basically comes down to a comparison between the energy and water required to wash the reusable plate vs. the energy and water used to produce, transport and dispose of a paper plate.
Which led to another random thought that needed to be answered:
Is the impact of washing a plate by hand greater than the impact of washing the plate in a dishwasher?
Gosh, this gets complex!
Through much research, I have determined that hand washing creates less of an impact than a dishwasher that is NOT energy efficient. However, if you do have an energy efficient dishwasher, it comes down to how you load your dishwasher, what the settings are set to on your dishwasher, where your dishwasher is installed in conjunction to your refrigerator and how you rinse the dishes before you load them. Since I am in an RV, using a dishwasher is not an issue, so I didn’t study much more into this.
Disposable plates become even more complex. These plates must be manufactured, packaged up and transported to great distances, just like a ceramic plate. The difference is that the ceramic plate will be used for many years where as a disposable plate will be used for roughly 10 minutes and then thrown away. Because of the food contamination it is unlikely that the paper plate will be recycled but instead will end up in some landfill where it will remain for 100’s of years biodegrading slowing and possibly turning into methane gas. Not to mention the many trees that are destroyed to make the paper plates.
So, paper plates vs ceramic plates, which option creates less of an impact? I still don’t know and neither do many of the resources that I looked into. This question tends to rely heavily on many different circumstances. So, I will continue to listen to my little green head and stay away from disposable waste as much as possible and go wash my dishes.
Have a fabulous Earth Day!