is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Miss Manners Has a Thing to Say About Plastic Utensils

Article-Miss Manners Has a Thing to Say About Plastic Utensils

littleny/iStock via Getty Images picnic basket with plastic utensils
A reader who refuses to accept plastic items at gatherings gets scolded by the manners maven.

Organizing a dinner party or any gathering involving food is a fraught affair these days. One has to take into account the various food allergies — real or imagined — and lifestyle choices of the guests. It's almost inevitable that at least one or two will be vegetarian, but will there also be a vegan among us? Will someone be glucose intolerant? The list goes on, creating a menu-planning minefield. Well, you can add plastic utensils to that list.

I came across a Miss Manners column from March 18, 2020, in The Ledger — this is not the column that currently appears in the Washington Post and other media outlets — in which a reader wrote about refusing to accept plastic items at gatherings. “Finger foods on a paper napkin work very well, as gatherings that use plastic tend to be casual. I take paper goods as my contribution, so others have a choice, also,” wrote the considerate reader.

The reader signed off with: “This planet is drowning in plastic . . . .  If one can refuse to eat meat, one should also be able to refuse, tactfully, plastic.”

I can’t say that I’m an avid fan of this or any other Miss Manners, but I did like her response.

The way to refuse plasticware is not to draw attention to why — or what — one is refusing. “Just as Miss Manners objects to the guest who explains in detail why she hates mushrooms, she believes that a guest with a preference for paper should confine her answer to a polite, enigmatic refusal,” wrote the columnist.

The best part? No opportunity for virtue signaling.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.