Summer is a time for lazy days at the beach, picnics in the park, backyard barbecues… and piles and piles of discarded paper plates, cups, and napkins. Let’s just hope those were eco friendly plates you packed in your picnic basket this summer.
Each year, every single American uses the equivalent of a 100-foot-tall Douglass fir tree in disposable paper products. This kind of consumption makes a huge impact on deforestation, loss of animal habitats, and decreased biodiversity.
I know, it’s easy to stock up on the paper products to lighten your work load a little bit in the summer time. No-one wants to be washing dishes when they could be digging in the garden, wading in the creek, or running a marathon. And when the kids (and all their friends) are home from school, there just seems to be a hundred meals and snacks a day flying through the kitchen.
So, how can you chill out this summer and still stay true to your eco-mantra? Good news: There are earth-friendly disposable tableware options that will hold up to the toughest pile of pasta, plate of corn, or stack of watermelon.
Coming in at just about twenty-five cents per plate, this option is a little pricey but worth every penny… especially if you’re hosting a “classy” backyard party. Quite possibly the “greenest” disposable plate on the market, these durable dishes are literally made out of dried palm leaves.
During their normal biological cycle, the palm trees drop their leaves. These leaves are collected, rinsed, washed in a water-turmeric solution, and then dried. After this, they are molded into various plate-shapes (using the different plate profiles to minimize waste), packed into groups of twenty-five, and shipped to you. They are fully renewable, biodegradable, and compostable. They are literally just leaves. $50.31/100 peices
There are a number of different brands of palm plates on the market. Make sure to do a price-comparison, and check out their sustainability practices before purchasing!
World Centric Ripple Edge Plate: This plate looks more like your traditional thick paper plate, but it’s made out of discarded sugar cane fiber and wheat straw. For those of you who suffer from wheat allergies, no worries! The plate is made from the stalk, not the grain, so it is gluten and allergen free.
It is also completely compostable (even in a home compost), and uses renewable materials with absolutely no wax or plastic linings. While this makes the plates eco-friendly, it also causes them to break down a bit when food has been sitting on them.
These eco plates will do the job for lighter, drier meals and cost twenty to forty cents less per piece than their sturdier palm leaf counterparts. $0.15 – $0.30 per plate, depending on retailer
Eco Kloud Begasse Plate: Made from discarded sugarcane fiber, this plate is completely biodegradable and compostable in a commercial compost facility (recommended). Sugarcane is a renewable, sustainable resource, so rest assured these pitchable plates meet the eco-friendly criteria.
You can order these plates online, or you can find them at Costco in packs of 500. The best part is that they are relatively inexpensive: $0.10 – $0.20 per plate.
While the best option is almost always to use real dishes and roll up your shirt sleeves, or teach your kids how to scrub the plates, there are viable eco-friendly sustainable options available for every dining occasion.