We can’t think of anything more eco-friendly than using actual ceramic plates and stainless steel utensils at dinner. But as much as the notion of lugging our crockery to a far-flung mountaintop sounds fabulous, it’s just not practical. And it’s not always sensible to use your “good” dishes when entertaining large groups.
Because we want to help you maintain your green lifestyle – especially as you serve up delicious homemade meals to your family and friends – we’ve collected a range of resources, products, and ideas for eco-friendly eating supplies. You designed a great menu, so we’ll show you how to present it with the earth in mind!
Using cloth napkins is classy, eco-friendly, and just plain lovely. There are a number of ways to source your cloth napkins, too, depending on your style. Finding vintage linen napkins online is one way to go. Most home goods stores carry brand-new cloth napkins, and the more you use them, the better they feel over time.
If you have any sewing abilities, you can try making your own napkins customized to your style. Purchase one and a half yards of pure cotton fabric from your local fabric store or online. Cut the textile into 18- to 20-inch squares, and put a double hem on them using a straight stitch. Remember to wash and dry your fabric before you turn them into napkins, otherwise they may become wonky and shapeless after you wash and dry them for the first time. It goes without saying that using cloth keeps paper out of the landfill and cuts down on tree pulp used to make disposable napkins.
Cloth napkins might scream class, but taking them to your beach picnic isn’t always ideal. Luckily, there are eco-friendly disposable napkins on the market.
- Earth Wise napkins are chlorine-free and made with 100% recycled content, including 65-80% post consumer content.
- Seventh Generation’s Natural Lunch Napkins are unbleached and made from 100% recycled paper, including 90% minimum post-consumer and 10% pre-consumer materials for the brown napkins. This means is they’re made to help reduce the need for virgin wood pulp.
If you do use disposable napkins, you can add them to your compost pile as unbleached napkins are biodegradable.
The market is brimming with fantastic alternatives to plastic plates, and these are just a few of our favorites.
- Earth’s Natural Alternative Wheat Straw Fiber Plates are 100% tree-free, and are made from unbleached natural discarded wheat stalk and sugarcane fiber that is chlorine- and pesticide-free. They contain zero plastic or wax lining, but they’re still strong, sturdy, and cut resistant. The plates are also gluten-free, as they are made from the plant stalks, not grains, which store the proteins and allergens.
- Eco-gecko makes plates that are not only friendly to the environment, but super stylish! 100% natural and compostable, these plates are made from palm leaves. They come in a square shape, or a heart shape if your heart so does desire.
- Bambu makes plates and other disposable eating supplies out of 100% organically grown bamboo. They fully biodegrade in 4-6 months and contain no bleaches or dyes. On top of that, they are sturdy and beautiful.
While many cultures only eat with their hands (and you can’t get more eco-friendly than that), some meals do require utensils, so check out these green products.
- SpudWare is made from vegetable starch, which means it can hold its shape in high heat. The manufacturing of this cutlery helps reduce petroleum usage, while saving the planet from excess waste.
- Plantware makes a fun colored set of 100% compostable cutlery that has a heat tolerance of up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Made from corn, these eco-friendly eating supplies don’t rely on unsustainable virgin plastic resources.
- EcoPure Biodegradable Serving Utensils will break down in landfills and consumers can stay confident knowing that their utensils will one day become rich soil!
- Reusable travel utensils are easy to pack with your picnic or camping supplies, or just to bring to work with your lunch.
Don’t forget the cups! If you’re heading to the park for a barbecue, encourage your friends to bring their own stainless steel or BPA free water bottle to refill while you’re there.
Otherwise, ditch the bottled water and bring a large jug of iced water to your next picnic along with EcoProducts Green Stripe cold cups as they’re renewable and compostable. And Green Paper Products makes corn-based cups in a range of sizes perfect for cold drinks.