I am always hesitant to send my kids to school with a fork or spoon right out of the utensil drawer. If it doesn’t come back home, then we are down a utensil or two come dinner time. And we can’t have that!
To try and avoid this situation, I send them to school with plastic utensils. *GASP* Yes, I know they are not environmentally friendly in the least. They just have that convenience factor that I am trying very hard to not be influenced by.
Well, I have almost used all of my plastic cutlery, and am ready to invest in environmentally friendly utensils. I cannot go on purchasing harmful plastics that are made from harsh chemicals and end up polluting our waterways. I need to change my ways.
Thus, my quest for environmentally friendly utensils has led me down a google rabbit hole and I want to share with you what I found.
What are biodegradable utensils made of?
Most biodegradable utensils are made with corn. *SIGH* When I find out something is made from corn, I’m always a bit disappointed and let down.
You see, corn is generally grown as a mono-crop and not organic. Pesticides are used, and it is a labor-intensive crop with seeding, watering, tilling, and harvesting.
Also, when you think about it, the corn is being grown so it can be made into a product that gets thrown away. Not a great use of our agricultural land, in my opinion.
So, what is an alternative to biodegradable utensils made from corn?
Reusable Ecofriendly utensils
There are a couple of options for compostable cutlery if encouraging the corn industry isn’t your thing.
If you’re looking for reusable ecofriendly utensils to throw into your purse or lunch bag, try bamboo like these ones here.
Bamboo is a sustainable, fast-growing, renewable resource. The bamboo used for these utensils is grown without pesticides and are biodegradable (in an industrial compost facility) at the end of their life.
Is wood cutlery ecofriendly?
Yes, wood cutlery is ecofriendly. Wood cutlery can be reused many times over again. When its lifecycle is up, simply compost it in a commercial composting facility (your municipality likely has one, google it) and they will biodegrade completely.
Wood sourced from Forest Steward Council (FSC) certified forests is your best bet for the most environmentally friendly utensils made frome wood.
Are compostable utensils recyclable?
No! Compostable utensils are NOT recyclable. They can’t be recycled because they are not plastic. Employees at the recycling center have to sort all the plastics, so if they see compostable utensils they won’t put it in the compost bin. Instead, it will be sent to the landfill.
This is not good because despite being compostable utensils, they are designed to compost in a proper compost facility (like your municipal compost heap), not in a landfill.
Bottom Line: What can I use instead of plastic utensils?
I have ranked the three environmentally friendly utensils explored in this article based on my own opinion:
My reasoning behind this unofficial ranking system is:
Corn is my least favorite compostable cutlery because of the mono-crop corn agriculture that happens in order to make corn products. In general, I am not a big fan of corn and corn production, so that has probably influenced my decision. Yes, I have a corn bias. Just putting that out there.
Wood is my second pick because although it is a reusable, biodegradable utensil, it takes a long time for trees to grow, so it’s not as renewable as my first pick.
Which leads me to bamboo. Bamboo is my #1 pick for biodegradable cutlery because bamboo is a fast-growing renewable resource. The environmentally friendly utensils themselves can be used over and over again and at the end of their life can be composted in a commercial compost facility.
One of the main takeaways I had from researching this article was to make sure your biodegradable and compostable utensils get disposed of in an industrial compost facility.
This is important because if the utensils break down in the landfill, they are deprived of oxygen and may produce methane gas – which is even more potent than carbon dioxide. Also, if you throw them in your backyard compost pile, they will take years to totally break down. So please, if you’re taking the time to pick out and buy biodegradable utensils, make sure they get disposed of properly.
What do you use in your or your kid’s lunchbox? Let me know in the comments below.
Cheers, and have an awesome day!