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Miss Manners Has a Thing to Say About Plastic Utensils

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.

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