Reducing Waste with Earth-Friendly Disposables
Does it seem just a little bit contradictory to suggest that you can reduce waste by choosing to use disposables?
Most of the conversation so far this month on the topic of reducing waste has centered around choosing products that can be used over and over (Cutting Down on Waste in the Kitchen, Homemade Cloth Diaper Pattern and Reducing Waste by Choosing Cloth Diapers).
There are times, though, when the convenience of a disposable is ideal. On trips or at celebrations like birthdays or other large parties. For those wanting to choose products that are simple, sustainable and that play a role in stewarding the earth well, it’s important to know that there are other options out there.
Disposable convenience that won’t sit in a landfill.
Last summer, we attended the wedding of a Christian couple, who are very conscious of the consumer choices that they make. To serve their guests at the dinner reception, they opted for unbleached, sustainably produced and compostable plates, napkins and cutlery. It was so fitting and beautiful to me that their desire to honor the Lord in all their choices came through even in the way that they served their wedding dinner.
I regretted that I didn’t find out the name of the products that they used, and so I was thrilled when I was asked to review a local company, Saakori, that is doing the same thing!
These plates are made of fallen palm leaves. They are simply pressed into shape in a heated press, without the use of any chemicals. When you’re finished with them, they can be put in the compost pile.
And the end result? Earth-friendly, sustainable, yet disposable plates and bowls that are so gorgeous and unique looking I hated to have to discard of mine after using them!
Though I usually use my regular plates and mugs, I used Saakori plates to serve the members of the church caregroup that we host in our home. Everyone agreed that it was such a great idea and they commented on how sturdy the plates were as well.
Tanuja of Saakori was also kind enough to send me some of her mesh, reusable produce bags, another fantastic way to decrease waste by avoiding plastic produce bags.
I already enjoy using mesh produce bags from my Moukisac, but thought that these bags were wonderful as well. They have a slightly larger and softer style mesh than my other ones, and I’m not sure that I have a preference between the two.
I’ve noticed that when I use either mesh bag, my produce seems to stay fresher for longer, and I just love getting through the cash register without a wad of plastic bags!
Disposables for me?
On the whole, I prefer to buy and use only products that can be reused. I know that most of you feel the same way.
There are, in my opinion, the odd times where a sustainable disposable option just might be a good fit. I often cringe when I go to church gatherings or other places where disposable dishes and cups are used, including styrofoam, the worst offender of all. Yet I understand the practicality of why disposables are the preferred options for these events.
The cost is higher, naturally. Products like these aren’t mass produced in the same way as the paper and styrofoam plates that you find in the grocery store. They can be purchased in bulk or wholesale by special order, which definitely helps to make them more affordable.
It would thrill me to no end to see churches, businesses and other organizations begin to use more sustainable products like these, and what a difference it could make to the amount of chemicals used and trash put out for each picnic, party or gathering held.
Am I dreaming? Maybe. But we each play a part by the choices that we make as consumers and the products that we support.
I saw those bamboo plates yesterday and almost bought some. What a great idea!
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I use very few disposables myself. I have found alternatives for them in basically every case. However, for church events, etc., I really hadn’t thought about it. I did look at the site, and my personal opinion is that at those prices, you are much better off to buy reusable dishes and wash them. Even if you paid someone a wage to wash them, you would still come out ahead. But then, I don’t think washing dishes is that big of a deal. If you get several people working together, they would be done in no time.
@Sheila, I see what you mean and would usually agree, for the most part. BUT – there are times when washing is going to be a huge challenge. We had a party for my daughter’s first birthday outside at a park, under a shelter we reserved for the occasion, and invited about 75 people (that included all family; we’re not really crazy). In that case, the only way we could have washed dishes was to load up all the dirties in the car afterward and take them back home to wash. I decided I’d much rather buy compostable disposables!
Thanks for this post, Stephanie!
.-= Katie ~ Simple Organic´s last blog ..How to Color Eggs With Natural Dyes =-.
I wish I could get my mother who lives with me to stop using disposables. I am gradually winning the war. Thanks for showing me these new places to get better disposables.
Those look SO beautiful!
We never use any disposable dishes and such. A lot of our extended family doesn’t like using them since it doesn’t feel nice to use. Our church, for a lot of functions, washes dishes- it seems the singles and teens help with it (since the families are busy with their kids).
I’ve seen some functions lately in the commmunity that state “BYOD” (bring your own dishes) for suppers etc. as well.
Can those palm ones be washed at all?
@Nola, That was my first thought, too- can I wash these and use them over again? Sort of defeats the purpose of disposables, doesn’t it? 🙂
I think that you could wipe them out, but not truly “wash” them. If you used them for dry things, like baked goods or sandwiches or something, you could probably wipe them out and use them again for another picnic, outing or whatever.
I love the idea of BYOD! I need to pass that idea around!
I detest disposable products. I have a pile of ‘thrifted’ ceramic plates to use at my home for larger gatherings. Our church is not very energy conscious and I bought recycle bins for it myself (but people use them as garbages! Aaaargh!) My husband is really opposed to the styrofoam cups used at church (we have travel mugs) but as our church just built a new kitchen including a dishwasher, he is going to attempt to have the church switch over to mugs which can be run through the dishwasher following services. It is not going to be easy to change people’s mindsets. Seriously, I don’t get why it is so hard for some people. I live in Alberta and just don’t think Albertans tend to be very eco-conscious!?
We hardly ever use disposables. Somehow I have accrued a large stash from leftovers from birthday parties that we hosted away from home. I have gathered them over six years, but only use them about once a year. I just recently decided to use some of them up, but I have mixed feelings because it is such a waste when you could just use a regular dish. We will probably use them on some picnics this summer, on small driving trips, and maybe after I have our 3rd baby in May which will be by c-section (so I won’t be up doing dishes for awhile!).
I was in shock when I learned that my sister used mainly disposables for their first 3 years of marriage. They didn’t have a dishwasher and decided that disposable was easier. i always thought it was weird when I needed a drink of water there and had to get a disposable cup!
When we have church picnics etc. we all bring our own dishes along and take them home (dirty.) This eliminates the need for any type of disposable.
Thanks for the post, I do use disposable plates sometimes and I feel guilty…but these look great. I will have to check them out.
We just had a party on Saturday where I served chili. I was so glad that even though I had a stash of plastic bowls, we used glass ones instead and just ran the dishwasher at the end of the night. We don’t have a lot of disposable stuff around here, either. I just don’t like using it. I need to look into those compostable ones!
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We use all syrofoam at church. These people have no concept of healthy, they feed the children junk food and candy every time we are at church it’s really gross. I let my 4 yo take her own snacks because they feed them prepackaged doughnuts, cakes, cookies and let them eat however much they want, even for breakfast. It’s really out of hand, and so our couse I’m the weird one but they’ve learned not to give candy to my kids and one couple even buys them raisins.
Oh on another note have you ever noticed how much waste they use at hospitals and fast food resturants?
Amen, sister! Our church bought some plastic coffee mugs a few years ago (with our logo on it) and people use them and then are asked to put them in the dishwasher as they leave. Of course, our church is fairly small so they all fit in one load. I do wish that churches and other organizations would at least use paper instead of styrofoam.
The only time I buy disposables is when I’m traveling, and then I do buy the bagasse or other renewable/disposable kind.
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I like this idea. I hate “real” disposables — the plastic and styrofoam. There are times, like you say, when disposables make life easier. This is great to know about!
.-= Kate´s last blog ..Average Grocery Spending and Ways to Save on Real Food =-.
Love this post! I feel the same way about disposables. These sound like a good compromise for when they are absolutely necessary. Thanks for introducing me to them.