If you are having a party or picnic it is often easier to buy disposable utensils, plates and cups to save time when cleaning up. By doing this you end up throwing a lot of paper and plastic away.
For a more environmentally conscious party, you can purchase some inexpensive, reusable plastic plates, cups, and use your own utensils (you can buy an inexpensive extra set at a garage sale). You also will be able to use them year after year, which will save you money, not having to buy all those disposable items.
Another option is to ask the party goers to bring their own place settings. This works well with potlucks or picnics.