Why Do We Need Reusable Dishes?

Why Do We Need Reusable Dishes?
Published: 23. August 2023
Categories: Opinion Tips

It’s widely understood that people who recognize the significance of environmental issues tend to adopt environmentally friendly behaviors more often than those who lack awareness, writes Kaupo Karba, the CEO of Eesti Pandipakend (Estonian Deposit Packaging). When individuals grasp the importance of their contributions and understand the broader impacts of their actions, they’re more likely to engage in eco-friendly behavior, which benefits both themselves and the environment.

Consequently, environmentally conscious individuals are primarily motivated internally. Environmental protection becomes integral to their self-image, rather than a response to external pressure. Thus, understanding the importance and effectiveness of environmental protection is a crucial foundation for fostering greater environmental awareness and responsible behavior.

The 13th youth song and dance festival “Püha on maa” held in the summer is a very good example, where one of the important axis of value was and will certainly continue to be the environment formed as a result of the guiding principle of the party, its preservation, increasing the richness of life and raising awareness of issues related to the environment. The organizers have tried to pay attention to environmental issues at song and dance festivals before, and for example in 2019 they replaced the disposable drinking bottles that had been in use until now with reusable ones. In 2023, the last idea was abandoned and everyone was asked to bring their own reusable drinking bottle.

But the biggest challenge turned out to be the desire and decision to change the disposable dishes that have been normally used at outdoor events to reusable ones. And if we come to the beginning, if the consumer is motivated to be environmentally friendly, they will come along nicely with the changes, which in turn requires that people must understand exactly what one or another of their footprints leaves in nature, i.e. they must become more environmentally friendly year by year.

It is also important to understand that the use of reusable dishes alone does not help to save the environment, but it is important that these reusable dishes are collected, washed and reused repeatedly, i.e. these dishes are used for their intended purpose.

So why do we need reusable dishes?

Here, I will give you an example of the experience of the XIII youth song and dance festival “Püha on maa”:

  1. Together, we managed to save about 3.5 tons of waste only with this year’s song and dance festival.
  2. Reusable dishes can be reused another 100 times, i.e. they can withstand 100 washes.
  3. A reusable cup is a good alternative in case the event’s visitor does not have his own drinking cup with him.
  4. Unfortunately, in the best case, disposable dishes are burned or in the worst case, they are stored in landfills. Recycling reduces the amount of waste generated because a valuable resource extracted from the earth’s crust is used repeatedly.

Do not take reusable cups or other dishes home from the event, but return them immediately to designated places at the event. Then the dishes will be effectively cleaned and they can be used already at the next events.

If we have made it clear to ourselves and feel that this way of thinking is environmentally sustainable and goes along with our self-image and values, then here’s a little help for the event organizer:

  1. The necessity of the reuse requirement should be made clear at the very beginning by asking traders for relevant information.
  2. Assess whether there are alternatives to the reusable dishes, e.g. visitors’ own dishes, finger food, etc.
  3. What is the expected number of visitors and what is the nature of the event (festival, concert, family events, company’s event, etc.)?
  4. Include in the plans a service provider, who proposes reusable cups and dishes and who has enough experience so that the event runs comfortably for everyone and at reasonable costs.
  5. Inform visitors that reusable dishes will be used at the event.
  6. Use reusable dishes wisely – this way they last longer, make more people happy and do less damage to nature.

Finally, consume wisely! Always take as much as you want, but as much as you need. Think about it.

And last but not least – be respectful and friendly to other people and nature. Every positive step takes us towards a greener future.


From 01.06.2023, at public events organized in Tallinn, food and drink must be served only in reusable containers (e.g. drinking cups, plates, bowls) and only reusable cutlery (e.g. knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks) will be used. It is allowed to use single-use drinking straws, stirring sticks and cocktail decorations that do not consist of plastic (including bio-based plastic), oxidizing plastic or biodegradable plastic.

From 01.01.2024, it is allowed to use only reusable containers and cutlery for serving food and drink at public events throughout Estonia.

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