There are many ways to save water in our everyday lives. One great and unexpected way to conserve comes from the dishware we use! Reusable dishware is more sustainable than disposable dishware even when accounting for the water and electricity that are used for washing. Here are a few facts presented by the Stanford University magazine Environmental Management that support this assertion:
- One paper plate takes 8 gallons of water to manufacture.
- Running a dishwasher uses approximately 3-15 gallons of water, depending on the age and efficiency of the machine, whereas washing 12 place settings (including dishes, glasses and cutlery) by hand uses approximately 27 gallons of water.
- Transporting a set of dishes from the manufacturer to the buyer creates approximately two to four grams of greenhouse gas for every mile of travel.
Manufacturing reusable dishware does require more energy than manufacturing disposables. For instance, initially a typical ceramic cup would have to be reused hundreds of times to match the lesser energy required to manufacture one foam cup. However, the reuse of the ceramic cup for a year or two will make up for the cost of that disposable cup. Furthermore, during that year or two, hundreds more disposable cups would have had to be manufactured for the same purpose.
Water conservation is a vital issue. Whatever we can do to reduce our use of water is of great importance.