One of the benefits of forgoing disposables (paper napkins, etc.) is that it has the potential to help make everyday tasks and events more lovely. Above, a photograph of a place setting when I hosted a friend for dinner a few weeks back. My everyday linen napkins have held up beautifully for the past few years, getting slightly soft and crumply in the wash. My plates are hand-me-downs from my parents. My glasses at the moment are Weck jars that can do dual duty as food storage if need be.
As you can tell, I have a consistent crush on linen napkins, simple dishes, and unfussy dinner parties. I used to wonder if asking that my objects be beautiful in addition to useful was un-environmental, frivolous. If I should choose the most sustainable option and forget the rest. But now I think that choosing things I really love means that I'll care for them and be happy with them for years and years. Finding things that make me happy when I look at them - like those above - engenders a longer-term feeling of contentment and enoughness. When I do this well, I like what I have. I don't need to search for more or better. This approach has become one of the keys to keeping my home and objects more simple, minimal.
I'm wondering where you fall on this one - do you agree, disagree? This is something I mull over lots, and I'd love to hear what you think. And, if you'd like to see, I keep lots more inspiration for a zero waste table here.