Dear Helena,

When I entertain, I often send guests home with leftovers in Tupperware. I also use Tupperware to pack cookies I bake as gifts. People never give the containers back. Individually, they only cost a few dollars, but the cost adds up and it’s a hassle to keep replacing them. I think it’s rude of people to assume they can keep my Tupperware. Or am I being petty? -Left-Over

Dear Left-Over,

Denise Lum-Kan, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of Tupperware, Inc., says Tupperware is a “treasured possession” that must be returned. However, I think that asking your friends to return your Tupperware is like asking them to return a Ziploc bag. You’ll look worse than petty. You’ll look crazy.

So why not buy cheap, disposable plastic containers, like the ones from Glad, so that you can easily buy more when you lose them? One could argue that more-durable containers (like Tupperware, which has a lifetime guarantee) may last longer and create less environmental waste.

The deeper answer is this: No matter what your preferred brand of plastic leftover containers, you need to practice detachment. Only when you are able to give generously without expectation of reciprocity will the universe reward you with more plastic ware. I call this the Law of Tupperware Karma. When your friends give food to you, simply keep their containers. You’ve earned them.

Have a Table Manners question? Email Helena.

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