For street vendors and pizzerias, disposable dishware is a basic staple, but how much should other restaurants invest in the materials? From placemats to food pans, nearly every utensil or baking supply is available in a disposable form, which sometimes is more practical than a more permanent piece. Knowing which version is more economically and personally advantageous to a business is an individual decision that changes for everyone. A few tips, though, can help determine when and how an owner should supply disposable products. 1. Carry out: Even if a restaurant has a dining area that most customers use, certain products like drinks and large meals are not often finished in one sitting. Providing a to-go container in addition to a ceramic plate or hard tray requires a disposable product and a dishwasher. Observing and documenting eating habits for just one week can provide a clear picture on whether or not such double-provisions are the average. If so, switching entirely to disposable containers can save both time and money. 2. Environmental impact: Many restaurants now are able to market themselves as environmentally-conscious, which can appeal to both customers’ interest and personal business integrity. Styrofoam containers are less expensive but notoriously slow to decay into the earth, and providing them may deter customers with green convictions. Foam will always be a staple of restaurant supplies, but the additional cost of biodegradable containers may be worth retaining certain clientele. This will mostly be determined by your location and your target market (for example, a greasy burger joint versus an organic vegetarian restaurant). 3. Trash monitoring: Not all customers read “Do not discard _____” signs, and a lot of silverware and trays can escape from your business by means of the garbage can. Watch what goes into your trash. If too many plates, baskets, and spoons are being tossed anyway, switching entirely to disposable dinnerware may be wise.