Disposable dishes or not?
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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Default Disposable dishes or not?

    This question comes up frequently on a camping forum I visit, and I'm curious if the answers are going to be much different here.

    We prefer to use re-usable dishes when we're at camp in a situation where we have the time and things set up so we can wash dishes conveniently.

    When we stop for lunch on the road or for a quick ovenight somewhere, we usually use disposables because in those situations, either the sink is not available or we're tired from driving all day and don't want to make any more work than we have to. This applies only to trips with our pop up, because we don't take our motor home on long trips.

    I also prefer using Tupperware to pack food for camping, but often use Ziploc bags instead because they're easier to fit into a cooler.

    We rarely use paper towels but carry rags along instead, since they do a much better job anyway. We do use paper napkins but that may change this year.

    We rarely use foil for anything, and camping is no exception. Even for packet meals, we use our baby Dutch ovens rather than waste foil.

    On a somewhat related note, I have to say it. I can't stop myself. I find those shake-and-pour pancake mixes to be the ultimate example of wastefulness. Not only is the product massively more expensive than if you used your own bowl and the exact same product bought in a bulk package, but then you can't get all the product you paid for out of the stupid bottle, making it even more expensive. Then, since you don't wash it but just throw it away, you aren't even recycling it! All to save the ten seconds it would take to wash the bowl you mixed the pancakes in, using the same water and soap you are already using to wash the pan they were cooked in. IMO, the height of stupidity and laziness. There, I've said it and I feel better. Thanks for 'listening'. Now back to the real topic.

    Some people wouldn't be caught dead using anything disposable.

    Some avoid anything they can that has to be washed, be it dishes, napkins, or whatever.

    Others fall somewhere in between those extremes.

    So what kind of camper are you?

  2. #2

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    We like to camp about twice a year (maybe 8 days total). We have pets to get back to. We have plastic dishes and silverware,tupperware; a whole tub of stuff. I use aluminum foil and those dollar store pan to cook with.They can be recycled. Our cast iron costs too much gas money to carry. We put all our garbage in plastic bags recycled from the grocery store and take it with us. I recycle what I can at home,throw the rest out at home. Only the perishables get thrown out at the parks for practical reasons. The last day we take our dirty dishes from that day and do them in the dishwasher at home. We tent camp w/o electricity to impact less. We can live w/o t.v. for 4 days. My father taught us low impact camping when we were young,way before that was a poular term. He explained that the rangers and employees must be paid to waste time picking up garbage and that money can't be spent fixing and building new things He always made us clean up the campsite before we went to play at the playground,rake the site and clean the fire pit. He explained that that was our contribution because the little bit we paid for the site was state subsidised. He said "you should always make things a little nicer than it was when you came". That way you are a contributer not a taker. He made us feel ownership. To further that I have started pre-cooking hamb.,Partially cooking potatoes,pre-cooked sausage.bacon,hard boiled eggs, bringing frozen meat,picnic lunches for the trip in a seperate cooler. That way store packaging is cut down on sustantially. We have electric coolers which means I don't have to buy ice. Frozen meat helps it all stay cool. Last year we has premarinated frozen steaks,Precooked sausages. My goal was not to spend any money at the dollar store or grocery store because we go on a limited budget. After all its my vacation too. We only had to buy wood, which we bought from a private individual in the area beacause many people up north in Mi. are always scrambling for xtra cash. And the kids love doing this because its the way we have always done it and they know they get more vacation allowance this way just like I always did. I always make sure they understand resources are finite. Work smarter not harder. And yes we are Scouting Geeks!
    Last edited by frugalwarrior; 03-22-2009 at 10:21 AM. Reason: typing dyslexia?

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I agree about the extra cost of taking cast iron along, although of course it all adds up.

    I like your dad's philosophy. I wish more people would think his way.

    I do a lot of pre-cooking just for convenience while camping, too. I always have pre-cooked hamburger in the freezer anyway, so that's easy to grab, but I'm always experimenting with other ways to make my own "processed food" for camping. Maybe I should start a thread about that and see what ideas others have.

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    Registered User ravenmaniac's Avatar
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    We use reusable dishes except the ziplock bags that have the raw meat in them, prepped fresh vegetables, and solo cups . I love our cast irons pans and dutch oven. I do use some aluminum foil and some plastic wrap. We do use paper towels. We take our firewood but sometimes have to buy some at the campground.

    We try to leave things nicer than when we came. That's a philosophy we try to instill in our kids and do wherever we go. I will rethink the use of solo cups. Wouldn't that make a great challenge? Not use anything disposable camping?

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    Registered User monkeywrangler71's Avatar
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    Before I started coming to this forum I had honestly never heard of people using paper plates for anything except large outdoor parties. I had no idea that people ate off them at home, and it would have never occurred to me to take them camping. I also did not know that people cleaned their houses and washed dishes with paper towels. I don't use them at home, but I keep paper towels in the car for emergencies and we use them as napkins when camping as well as for cleaning up dirt & grease (ie. picnic table or barbeque).

    I use tinfoil more tinfoil at home. I use a combination of bags and containers, depending on what it is. We tend to have a bit more packaged food than at home.

    Most campgrounds I've been to will have a place to separate your garbage, so we leave it there. If there is no recycling we take the cans and bottles home.

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    Registered User wanderlusting's Avatar
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    We camp/backpack quite a bit so we have reusable items that we use.

    We do use ziploc bags because they don't weigh a lot in our packs, fit easily and are waterproof.

  8. #7
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    I use both. I have both plastic and glass dishes for the camper that we mostly use. However if we are just having sandwiches and chips or something like that for lunch I will use paper plates. I have a full set of silverware for the camper and also take along my electric skillet, griddle and crockpot. I have dishpans and I heat water on the campfire and then wash my dishes. And yes, I have a camper but I never cook or wash dishes in it LOL!

  9. #8
    Registered User savvy_sniper's Avatar
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    We having cooking utensils, pots and pans, heavy duty plastic plastic plates/bowls/cups, and regular silverware in our camping gear. Most of my meals are well planned and orchestrated to use as few items as possible. We also have cloth napkins and towels that we take also. I just put them in a bag and wash them when I get home and put them back in the camping gear.

    I do have a cheap roll of paper towels in my camping gear, but it has been in there for several years now! We heat water and wash dishes at the campsite.

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    Registered User tervsforme's Avatar
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    I have melamine dishes in my camper and pots and pants that were left over from my mom. I try to bring everything I can in something reusable and I always bring my recyclables home with me. Using baggies is unavoidable sometimes, but I try to not use many. I do have paper towel that I use for quick spills and for napkins, as well as to wipe the dogs muddy feet! My camper is small, I'll have to think about trying to bring rags or towels instead.

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