Are Biodegradable Plates and Utensils Environmentally Friendly?

Maybe you are planning a party and need disposable plates and utensils.
Or maybe you’re in college and don’t have a dishwasher in the dorm or apartment. Or maybe you’re just too lazy or busy or just don’t have the time or appetite for doing dishes.  So you opt for disposable dinnerware.

With all the civilized eating utensil options out there, should you consider opting for eco-friendly, biodegradable plates and utensils?

Biodegradable utensils and plates come in a variety of styles and colors and are crafted from a variety of natural plants – most commonly corn polymers and sugar cane.

There is an endless number of websites that sell biodegradable plates and utensils such as Buy Green, that will  even rank its products from 1-100 based on all sorts of eco-friendly criteria: from the plant matter used to the energy used to create the product. One of the most eco-friendly materials used in making plates and utensils is sugarcane which is widely available from sites like Biodegradable Store.

Once sugarcane is processed and sugar extracted for food products, there is leftover stalk waste that is incinerated, emitting carbon dioxide emissions which are of course harmful to  the environment.  You know that, cause you came to Green Blizzard to learn more about sustainable living options.

This byproduct, until recently,  considered waste and now cleverly crafted into a useful product is now being converted into utensils, plates, and other household items. The ultimate recycling, or byproduct model.

Sugarcane is widely available and quickly renewable – highly sustainable.  Bamboo, another widely available, fast growing plant, is also used for creating utensils and plates.  Nice looking options are available at Branchome.   Bamboo is a harmful, invasive plant in many environments.  This fastest growing plant in the world, is weed-like plant and nearly impossible to destroy. But under the right conditions and use it in the right way can really help protect the environment, reduce your carbon footprint, and green your lifestyle.

Even better, once you’ve used these products for your memorable dinner party, they can be added to your home compost pile and will naturally break down in a couple of months!

Prices for environmentally friendly plates and utensils can vary, but what’s so surprising is how affordable everything is. While nothing can beat the prices of cheap and flimsy paper plates which cost around 4 cents or less each, the heavier duty plastic plates people buy for parties aren’t a great bargain.

Just take a look at this breakdown: Corn plates – 19 cents each; Sugar utensils – 4-7 cents each;  Bamboo plates – 8 cents each; Bamboo utensils – 25 cents each; Plastic, non-biodegradable plates – 7-11 cents each; and Plastic, non biodegradable utensils – 3-5 cents each.

As you can see, going green with your disposable plates and utensils not only helps the environment but is as affordable as plastic disposables, so there’s less reason to buy plastic when green options are reasonably cost competitive.

Plus, if you are having a party with 50 people and splurge for more expensive green products, you’ll only be looking at spending an extra dollar or two for the entire party.  Plus you are voting with your consumer choices and sending a message to the manufacturers to keep it coming.   Maybe your guests will follow suite.   I know that if I went to a party with bamboo plates and utensils I’d be pretty impressed and think they were cooler than your standard ugly plastic plate!

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About the author

John R. Garnet

John’s work in the energy market fostered his interest in the environment. He recently completed his graduate work at George Mason University, But more interestingly, John has a passion for food and cooking and to provides some light-hearted tips to make people’s lives greener while enjoy the good life with everyday practical tips from brewing tea, growing basil, or drinking raw milk.