By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | March 4, 2010
I’ve wanted to love “compostable cutlery,” I really have. Every time I see slightly differently-textured disposable cutlery at a to-go shop, it’s exciting for the first few moments… until my doubts kick in. Does this stuff really compost? If so, will it compost in a home compost pile, or does it require an industrial composting machine (which most communities don’t have)?
I’ve wanted to believe, I really have! Because those potato forks and starch spoons seem a heck of a lot better than the virgin petroleum-plastic options… sadly, turns out, not so much.
Beth Terry did some research into this situation, and contacted a recycling company in San Franscisco. They sent her photos of a potat0-starch based spoon and fork, before and after they’d been composted at extremely high heat in an industrial composter. In both photos, the cutlery looks identical– they didn’t break down at all in the composting process.
She then ran a test herself, burying a comb made from wheat-based plastic in her yard for three months. Even after assurance from the company that their product would compost, it didn’t, at all.
So, the take-away here for me is that, in the end, disposables of any kind are still that– disposables. They’re made for single use, and require a lot of resources to create. While some may be better than others– bagasse plates, for example, are made from byproducts of the sugar industry and will in fact biodegrade– disposables by their very nature are wasteful and in most cases unneccessary.
My current solution is so fun! I was gifted a To-Go Ware bamboo utensil set which I carry in my bag, and delight every time I pull out a fork or set of chopsticks. Plus, since they’re bamboo, the set weighs nearly nothing! Team Tiny Choices is also extremely fond of bamboo sporks, of which one is also floating around in my bag at all times.
What’re your thoughts on disposable cutlery? Do you avoid it, or is it inevitable?
[Image by Mathias Baert via Creative Commons]
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