Using more water (and soap) v. using paper plates, doesn't seem like it would make a huge difference environmentally speaking. Paper plates are biodegradable, and you can even purchase some that are made from recycled paper goods. On the other hand, I have heard that the foam plates are not good for the environment. I don't like those anyway, so I don't tend to use them. I prefer actual paper ones. I have paper plate holders to give them more stability. I'm having a party soon, and I'll be using paper plates. Now, to find some on sale.