If you camp as much as I do, paper plates and plastic silverware can get really expensive, and they also create a lot of trash. While paper plates could be burned in the fire pit, the rest is just filling up the garbage bag, and there are a few camping spots where we need to pack out our trash.
All that paper and plastic is just not good for the environment and that’s something we care about and want to protect so future generations can camp and enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a good example to set for kids and show them that the world is not disposable.
For eating and drinking, we use enamelware and metal silverware. Ceramic and glass, of course, are too fragile and won’t stand up to the rugged camp environment. Plastic is lightweight, but you need to be careful with it around fire and hot coals. I have seen many a plate melted because it was set too close to the fire. For that very reason, I prefer the enamelware. It’s super durable, easy to clean, and the speckled finish captures that classic camping look that I grew up with.
For hot or cold beverages, everyone has an insulated mug or they use one of the enamelware cups. We wash dishes after every meal and hang everything in mesh laundry bags to air dry. If you don’t let dishes sit and you clean up right away using soap and hot water, it’s really not that hard, and if everyone pitches in, it goes really fast. For more information on washing dishes in camp, read my blog post: “Good Dish Washing in Camp.”
When I’m cooking, if I need a little butter melted, I’ll grab a cup and set it near the fire or on the stove near the burner to melt the butter. If my coffee gets cold, I’ll do the same thing and it warms in no time. If it’s cold outside, I can load plates into a Dutch oven and add just a few coals to the top and bottom of the oven and warm them before serving.
Enamelware comes in many colors so you have choices if you want to coordinate with an RV décor, other serving items, or if you just want to set that Sunset Magazine table.
Currently, I have a red set, a blue set, and a green set. A friend suggested I get a white set for photographing my food, so I’m on the hunt for a nice white, speckled set to add to my collection.
However you set your picnic table, be sure you’re doing it in a way that is easy on the environment. It might mean a little more work when cleaning up, but it’s worth it if it saves the outdoors for future generations. And, for that future generation, it’s a teachable moment about pitching in, helping out, and working together to get a job done quickly and easily. And the faster we get cleaned up, the faster we can move on to a campfire and s’mores!
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