If you’re planning a cookout this summer, say “no” to paper plates and plastic cutlery. If you’re having a small gathering, use your own plates (reusable ones) and your own cutlery. It’s not a big deal to wash them after the event. If you decide to use plastic plates and utensils, it’s best to wash and reuse them another time. You can also ask to borrow extra plates and tableware from friends or neighbors as a reusable option.

If the event is so big that using your own plates is not convenient and you prefer to minimize the need to wash dishes after a party, you can opt for biodegradable utensils and plates for the guests. Other options on the market are made from 100% post-consumer recycled content by Preserve, a Waltham-based company.

Never offer plastic straws or products made from polystyrene, since it is made from several petrochemicals. Alarmingly, polystyrene is made from styrene, a neurotoxin and probable carcinogen, which can leach out of the packaging especially with increases with temperature and with certain foods (alcohol, oils or fat).

Please Do not place plastic utensils, plates or cups in your recycling bin, since these products are not accepted in single stream recycling.