Humor by Mark Bazer

Recycle everything you can, reuse it all before you do and keep a steady eye on your carbon footprint. But, for goodness sake, when life is kicking your butt, treat yourself to a nice package of paper plates.

Perhaps I've grown unimaginative, but I can't think of anything more indulgent in these lean, worrisome times than eating off a quality paper plate, or three or four, if they're too hard to separate.

No dishes to wash, no being greeted in the morning with the remains of last night's dinner party. Just eat your food and toss your plate out the window.

We have two sets at our home: There's the standard-issue stack made of bright-white paper coated with poisonous but, when microwaved, tasty chemicals.

And then when we have people over, we break out the fine paper. Sturdy, deep, a natural hue. I can't tell you how many times guests -- from relatives to heads of state -- have complimented us on our choice in paper dishware. Certainly, if we could do it all again, we'd have registered for our wedding at Dominick's not Crate & Barrel.

Years ago in this space, I demonstrated through complicated math and shoddy reasoning that it's cheaper to always purchase new socks rather than ever wash your old ones.

The same applies here. Let's say you spend $139 per five-piece Vera Wang Dinnerware fine-china set, which, according to Macy's website, weds romance with modern sensibility. Let's say you get eight settings, because you want to have four extra sets you'll never use. That's $1,112. For plates.

Do you know how long it would take to spend $1,112 on plates made from sweet paper? You can get 300 solid paper plates you'll be proud to eat off for about $36. That's about 12 cents a plate. That's about free.

In other words, you could buy 9,266 plates for the price of your new sets from Vera Wang, whose mind was preoccupied with wedding dresses the whole time she made them.

So, if you have four people in your home and eat at home six nights a week, that's 2,316.5 plates per person -- or about seven years of meals. And we haven't even discussed the savings on dish soap, a commodity experts forecast will be the next crude oil.

And that brings us back to the environment. We don't have an unlimited supply of paper. It doesn't grow on ... Er, maybe we do have an unlimited supply. Still, remember, paper plates are for those times when you want to pamper yourself, to live like Prince William and Kate.

Plus, you can offset your paper-plate use by making sure you buy ones that are made of mostly postconsumer materials, and chewing and savoring your food but not swallowing it and then letting someone else at the table chew it.

Humor & Satire

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