One of our priorities at the Crafty Coop is to be as environmentally conscious as possible when planning our events. Our personal events have evolved as we’ve learned more about how plastic impacts us all on a global scale. Single use plastics should be the absolute court of last resort when doing anything – not just when hosting events. Are we perfect? No. But we’re working hard every day to learn more and do better. We will use this blog to help share what we learn along the way and hopefully inspire some of you to make simple changes with big impact.
When throwing events at home I’ve struggled with how to feed more people than I have cutlery for. I admit to using plastic cutlery for events in the past. You might even see photos from older events with colorful plastic cutlery. I made a simple change to eliminate that need. I went to our local Savers and picked up a variety of mismatched stainless steel cutlery to use when we have more guests than place settings. The second hand settings were inexpensive; I won’t be sad if an overzealous helper tosses one by accident at a barbecue. They are also far sturdier than even the highest quality plastic choices. I can dress them up to match any occasion with colorful (and compostable) napkins and paper rings or baker’s twine:
As consumers we need to make renting place settings popular again. Pay someone to wash the dishes at your local venue. My hope is the more we ask to use real cutlery the more venues will return to offering these services.
Sometimes there isn’t really any other option but to use something disposable. When that happens it is important to think about where your trash is headed after the party. I’ve been experimenting with my family and friends to get an idea of the products available and their merits vs limitations and these two are the best I’ve found depending on your circumstances:
Do you have access to a commercial compost facility? If you don’t know what that means then odds are you don’t. Not a lot of people do yet in America. We’re fortunate here in Haverhill. I have a service called Roots Compost that picks up my home compost weekly. Some of the most progressive cities in Massachusetts provide curbside composting but in light of the ban on food waste about half of the municipalities have compost sites available.
If you do have access to a commercial facility then I recommend this PLA cutlery. PLA is a plant based plastic, and what we use for our 3D printed projects, that breaks down in a commercial composting facility. This won’t break down appropriately if tossed in your regular trash and sent to a landfill or if put in your backyard compost. The cutlery is well made and if not for the “100% compostable” imprint on the handle – almost indistinguishable from its plastic counterparts. They have an upper temperature limit so if you’re serving super hot foods these might not be an option. We had some break during use but not many. I’ve had similar results with typical plastic cutlery.
If you don’t have a facility for compost then consider this wooden option. They aren’t fancy but they are useful. They don’t have the heat limits of PLA. This form factor is sturdier than some of the ones modeled after typical cutlery. We didn’t have any breakage when we used these. The one complaint we heard was that it seemed like “eating with a tongue depressor.” Not all of my guests felt this way but it was a deal breaker for a few. We gave those people our everyday forks instead.