DEAR MISS MANNERS: Though there is always room for improvement, I try to be forward-thinking with regard to my environmental impact.
When I am a guest in someone’s home and water is offered to me in a single-use bottle, is it impolite to request a glass and some tap water instead? I’m equally bothered when handed a disposable red cup at a party, or food on a Styrofoam plate to consume with plastic utensils.
It’s made all the worse because the gracious hostesses in these particular homes do not recycle. I’m guessing I ought to accept these offerings with gratitude and continue to do my part in my own home, but I wanted to see if you had any other suggestions.
GENTLE READER: Only that you must also consider the human environment. While making conditions better for the world, you should not make them worse for your friends. And having someone accept your hospitality and then criticize it is hurtful.
Miss Manners would like to see you separate your advocacy from your behavior as a guest. Sure, you can ask for a glass of tap water, but that is not the time to explain why. There are other occasions when you can talk with your hosts and other good friends about your convictions, although without targeting their habits.
If they decide to change their ways, it will only be if you are able to convince them of the importance of your beliefs. If you seem to sneer at their tableware, they are not going to invite you back, let alone listen to behavioral advice from someone who has treated them ungraciously.