disposable or reusable?

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,827
Albuquerque, NM
We keep adding options to our camping supplies, which means we can use what works best in current circumstances. We do use paper goods for probably half or less of our dishes on most days. Sometimes it's more. I hate plastic utensils, so we pretty much always use real ones. The disposable ones are buried under one of the dinette benches, but come in handy every now and again, so there they stay. This year, I found Dixie came out with a larger paper bowl, which is going to be handy when we have power and need to microwave a frozen meal. We try to remember to set things out for the next day, but every now and again we forget or our plans change, so we can put things into our eating dishes to heat them up.
[We never have a campfire, they're often banned anyway, so depending on burning paper goods isn't in our plans.]
I still like having our real dishes, most of which are Fiestaware these days. However, we do use paper plates on some mornings, for pancakes or egg dishes, because if it's chilly, the hot food cools off instantly if we use the real dishes.
This year, we had 2 different week-long trips in Colorado where we were dependent on the water we could haul with us, so being conservative with usage was more important than ever. At least for those trips, we could use our full water system, i.e. hot water tank, so doing dishes was easy, even with water conservation. We had several days last month where we drained the water system, because of an unexpectedly cold spell - it snowed, and the lows were around 30, although had been predicted to be in the teens. That meant heating water on the stove for dishes, which is do-able, but much handier outside with the camp stove, as we did for 2+ decades. Having the option to use mostly paper made it easier on that trip.
It's all about balance for us.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,392
I am the hippy of the family and like everything to be reusable. Do the majority of you use disposable dishes or do you prefer washing and reusing? Just trying to get all packed up so we can test our the PUP :) If you prefer washing, what do you use?

Disposable dishes and cups. Reusable utensils.
 

craig heaton

Active Member
Jan 26, 2021
111
We do a mixture. Usually it's either paper plates or reusable plastic (Tupperware) plates and disposable plastic utensils with disposable cups, but we rinse the cups if we can and dispose of them at the end of the trip. This keeps the amount of dishwashing to a minimum since we often use the (very small) sink in our camper for washing dishes. (Unless it's a nice day out, then I'll fill a basin with water and wash dishes at the picnic table...and yes, it usually my job to wash dishes since my wife does the cooking ;-) ). We'll also wash and reuse the plastic utensils until the end of the trip if we're low on a certain utensil.

Our meals are usually pretty simple, so there isn't much to wash. Breakfast is a mixture of (not all at once, just usually a couple items from this list) oatmeal, cereal, eggs, bacon, spam or fruit. Lunch is often skipped. Dinner is more elaborate but 80% of the time cooked over the open fire the rest of the time we either cook on the grill or we eat out. (Typical dinner...marinated chicken, steak & salad with garlic bread, kabobs, burgers & chips, etc).

As far as what we keep in the camper, the cook set is a carryover from our tent camping days. It's an assortment of one small and one medium aluminum cooking pot with a shared lid, a cast iron fry pan, a larger open aluminum pot (used to steam crabs usually), tea kettle, a couple spatulas, some knives, a couple tongs and hot pad. We also keep our disposable utensils and plates in the camper.
 

LucilleToo

New Member
Jun 24, 2019
5
Always reusable for us. We have a few disposables left over from the previous owner (sealed packs of flatware and paper plates- bought our camper fully stocked) but haven’t touched them besides pulling out to clean the camper and repacking “just in case”. When time is short or we’re eating while packing up I just toss the dishes in the sink and put them in the dishwasher at home
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,392
We use reusable utensils but disposable plates. Utensils are easier to wash and durable utensils are better for eating with.
 

jharahush

Member
May 15, 2014
39
Golden, CO
My family keeps complaining that I insist on real dishes. I say it’s because it’s better for the environment and cheaper, but really, I just love using the same melamine camping dishes I used as a kid - some are even the ones my mom used when she was little and camping with her family. They make me so happy!
Nice! I use real dishes and silverware. This is actually my reason for using real dishes as well. I have the silverware, pots, pans, some cups, some plates from my grandparents popup. Just makes me feel good to use them and think about the fun memories I have from camping with them when I was a kid. That particular set of grandparents have been gone for awhile now but I love carrying on the tradition in my own popup and/or tent (when I camp with my Jeep).
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
869
Minnesota
I am the hippy of the family and like everything to be reusable. Do the majority of you use disposable dishes or do you prefer washing and reusing? Just trying to get all packed up so we can test our the PUP :) If you prefer washing, what do you use?
I wash mostly, do have some paper plates and bowls, when I wash I use Dr. Bronners soaps.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
869
Minnesota
We use Corelle in our pup. We bring a few paper plates but figure water is cheaper. The Corelle dishes are extremely durable, light and is way better than the plastic stuff (had plastic in the former pup). It can be dropped at 6' and not break. So, it travels well and is durable for the mobility of camping. Plus, the Corelle is nice to eat from. No annoying scratching from cutting food, scratch marks and such. Since it is a ceramic, no issues microwaving and you can actually cook in it if yu needed to.


Anyway, FWIW, you can get it fairly cheap. I think we paid $20.00 for service of 4 or so.
I just found out that Corelle can break, I honestly had no idea!
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,827
Albuquerque, NM
I just found out that Corelle can break, I honestly had no idea!
Not only does it break, it shatters. It’s a form of glass. I sold it back in the 70s and 80s in a dept store. Housewares was in the basement, so I learned a long time ago what can happen when it hits the ground. I have a bit at home, but son’t
Take it in the trailer. The real
Stuff we have is Fiestaware, which will break but not like Corelli does.

We still use a combination of paper and real stuff. Real utensils almost always, otherwise it’s a mix. Partly to reduce washing dishes, on this trip we’re conserving water even more than usual. Grand Canyon has had a series of pipeline breaks. Now at South Rim in Mather CG, the only taps on are at the restroom, including their outside campers’ sink. (We knew the earlier breaks had happened, so brought extra 2-1/2 gallon jugs. We refilled those and our onboard tank this morning at the KOA,I’d used the jugs up by the end of last week. We figure if we have the option to carry our own water, there’s more for the unprepared folks.Usually we use the campground tanks to fill the drinking water.)
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
869
Minnesota
Not only does it break, it shatters. It’s a form of glass. I sold it back in the 70s and 80s in a dept store. Housewares was in the basement, so I learned a long time ago what can happen when it hits the ground. I have a bit at home, but son’t
Take it in the trailer. The real
Stuff we have is Fiestaware, which will break but not like Corelli does.

We still use a combination of paper and real stuff. Real utensils almost always, otherwise it’s a mix. Partly to reduce washing dishes, on this trip we’re conserving water even more than usual. Grand Canyon has had a series of pipeline breaks. Now at South Rim in Mather CG, the only taps on are at the restroom, including their outside campers’ sink. (We knew the earlier breaks had happened, so brought extra 2-1/2 gallon jugs. We refilled those and our onboard tank this morning at the KOA,I’d used the jugs up by the end of last week. We figure if we have the option to carry our own water, there’s more for the unprepared folks.Usually we use the campground tanks to fill the drinking water.)
Us too, yeah, I don't mind doing dishes too much, I really don't like the idea of tossing used paper plates in the fire pit either. Water sure goes fast doesn't it? We have 2 6 gallon water jugs, heavy as you know, but we sure drink and wash a lot! I guess that's a good thing.
The corelle was a surprise though, I bought some on ebay, then after my dad passed I took his home, their nice though. I won't be bringing them camping!
 

kudzu

Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 20, 2014
573
Knee deep in kudzu
We use paper plates and bowls and burn them in the fire pit. My feeling is that trees are replenishable but water is limited. We use titanium knives and forks that we wash.
There are other considerdations in that equation. It takes water to grow the trees and a lot more to produce the paper. It takes a lot of other resources, much of it non-renewable, to produce and transport to you. Then you take the previously sequestered carbon from the trees and sent it up into the atmosphere via burning.

Reusables are our primary choice but for various reasons, including my laziness, we sometimes choose disposable. These days I try to buy compostable products. All that said, our efforts to be green are completely outweighed when we cave to laziness and order carry out that comes in non-recyclable or compostable disposable containers, driving it back to the campsite in my bigass, V8 van.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
869
Minnesota
There are other considerdations in that equation. It takes water to grow the trees and a lot more to produce the paper. It takes a lot of other resources, much of it non-renewable, to produce and transport to you. Then you take the previously sequestered carbon from the trees and sent it up into the atmosphere via burning.

Reusables are our primary choice but for various reasons, including my laziness, we sometimes choose disposable. These days I try to buy compostable products. All that said, our efforts to be green are completely outweighed when we cave to laziness and order carry out that comes in non-recyclable or compostable disposable containers, driving it back to the campsite in my bigass, V8 van.
Or no place in the area to recycle!
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
869
Minnesota
We actually have a trash can in the camper specifically for recycling. If we cannot recycle it on the road, it comes home with us. But it is disturbing how much piles up in that bin. We are a long way from being zero waste.
Us too, our camper is really small, an aliner, 15' long. But I'll try and bring stuff home.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,806
Southern California
I am the hippy of the family and like everything to be reusable. Do the majority of you use disposable dishes or do you prefer washing and reusing? Just trying to get all packed up so we can test our the PUP :) If you prefer washing, what do you use?
I do have some metal camping plates that I will generally use on cold mornings. I warm up the metal plates to help keep my eggs and other food choices warm. But most of the time I use paper plates. Much of the time I just eat one of those Freeze-dried package meals where you just add hot water. I'll eat it right out of the bag. Sometimes lunch is just a Baloney sandwich or a couple hot dogs wrapped in a piece of bread. Nothing fancy for me. I don't go camping to eat great meals. But I do like a nice breakfast. Buiscuits and gravy with coffee are my favorites in the morning.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,392
I used disposable plates, bowls, cups, and utensils for a number of years, and this year reconsidered that.

I got two sets of eight utensils from Ikea and keep them in a cylinder that looks like a large pencil holder. Whenever we eat, we just grab the utensil holder and put it on the table.

I got seven-each of full size plate, small plate, large bowl, small bowl, highball size cups, and double-old-fashioned sized cups. They're all plastic, and were on sale at Walmart for $0.50 each piece. So for $42 I have seven full place settings. We camp with 3-5 of us usually.

I also got a set of three concentric sized serving/mixing bowls, and some reusable-but-disposable food storage containers (like cheap-o tupperware).

So pretty much everything is reusable now. Obviously this means more dishwashing, but it also means less trash. To accommodate the dishwashing better, I got a couple of collapsible sink basins from Walmart's camping section. They're better than trying to wash dishes in the popup's tiny sink. I usually fill them outside using the outside shower hose.

That reminds me; has anyone added plumbing to "T" off of the exterior shower (on the service side of the trailer), bringing some sort of faucet over to the door side of the trailer? I'd love to have easier access to water outside the trailer without going around to the service side.

Anyway, since switching to reusable I was able to accomplish the following:
  • I don't stress about whether or not I have enough cups and plates on the trailer.
  • I don't overbuy because I was stressed about not having enough.
  • I removed two full paper shopping bags worth of disposable cups, plates, bowls, and utensils from the trailer, which had resulted in me overbuying so I won't be out of cups.
  • I no longer find myself with 200 disposable bowls and no cups.
  • The total amount of space taken up by the reusable is less than the space taken up by me overbuying disposable stuff (and still running out of forks).
If I were to camp somewhere without water, I would certainly toss in a fresh set of disposable stuff, and I would remove it at the end of the trip.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
869
Minnesota
Lots of plastic though. I don't care much for it, but it seems to be a necessary evil.
I bought collapsible dish pans, one was starting to come apart because of the putting up and collaping part, bought 1 new bigger one and just use a large pot for rinse water
I think I may stock with paper plates and bowls for now.
 

gasmater

Member
Jul 26, 2007
56
Aurora, CO
I am the hippy of the family and like everything to be reusable. Do the majority of you use disposable dishes or do you prefer washing and reusing? Just trying to get all packed up so we can test our the PUP :) If you prefer washing, what do you use

I am the hippy of the family and like everything to be reusable. Do the majority of you use disposable dishes or do you prefer washing and reusing? Just trying to get all packed up so we can test our the PUP :) If you prefer washing, what do you use?
 

gasmater

Member
Jul 26, 2007
56
Aurora, CO
I am the hippy of the family and like everything to be reusable. Do the majority of you use disposable dishes or do you prefer washing and reusing? Just trying to get all packed up so we can test our the PUP :) If you prefer washing, what do you use?
I carry both but use disposable most of the time. Some sites have only electric, no water or sewer.
 




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