We want our children to grow up in a world still filled with trees, fresh air, and clean water, but the reality is that Mother Earth needs our help. There are many factors which contribute to the continual and rapid damage of our environment. One of them is the widespread use of plastic utensils, which tend to be thrown away after only having been used for a few minutes. And while reusable utensils have become popular over the years, just how helpful are they in reducing waste?
How plastic utensils damage the environment
There’s no question that plastic products, such as plastic spoons, forks, and knives, are incredibly popular. For instance, they’re very convenient. After eating, you don’t have to worry about washing your plastic utensils — you can simply chuck them into the trash bin.
Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a cost — specifically, to our environment. Plastic utensils can take up to a thousand years to decompose completely. Data from the Ocean Conservancy also consider plastic utensils as one of the “most deadly” types of plastic waste for animals, as it is mistaken for food by birds, mammals, and sea turtles, and can lead to their death.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition also reports that plastic utensils, cups, straws, and plates are a “prime source” of the estimated 269,000 tons of plastic waste that gets swept into oceans and waterways, where they partially degrade and harm both marine life and human health. The non-profit organization 5Gyres also found that utensils are some of the most commonly collected plastic items during beach clean-up initiatives, the National Geographicreports.
Fortunately, more sustainable alternatives to plastic utensils have been gaining traction in recent years. These include reusable utensils made of plant-based materials like wood or materials from fast-growing trees like bamboo and birch. Compared to plastic utensils, these alternatives are made of materials that are compostable and biodegradable, so they are not as harmful to the environment. These are also reusable.
Despite the growing popularity of more biodegradable utensils, there is also another way you can help the environment: By bringing your own (BYO) utensils, instead of resorting to single-use varieties.
The National Geographicreports different instances where the BYO cutlery movement is being championed. For instance, back in 2008, Chinese environmentalists campaigned for people to bring their own chopsticks with them. The New York-based e-commerce website Etsy also now has a section on its site that is dedicated to reusable cutlery products.
Though it might sound like an inconvenience to carry around your own spoon and fork, there are actually a number of benefits, aside from the fact that you will be able to help the environment. One is that you get to avoid the possibility of getting infected with different sorts of illnesses.
“If you come with your own [reusable utensils], you don’t have to worry about someone else’s germs in your soup,” Sarah Coffin, who curated the exhibit Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005 at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, USA, tells the National Geographic.
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There is also a historical precedent behind the practice of bringing your own reusable utensils. For many, many years, it was actually considered a faux pas not to bring your own utensils, especially because there were usually none provided. “You would come with a little carry case, and [in] it would be your own personal knife and spoon,” Coffin shares.
Take that first step toward living a more sustainable, intentional lifestyle by purchasing sets of reusable utensils for yourself and your family! Check out these local stores that offer different kinds of cutlery sets that are both pretty and eco-friendly.
The Last Straw PH
The Last Straw PH is a community that aims to help reduce the amount of waste produced in the Philippines. Its metal cutlery sets come in a variety of different colors, including black, silver, and purple. These colors are electroplated and not painted, which means that the colors will not fade or mix in with other liquids. The store’s products are also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and certified by the Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) in the Philippines, so you can be sure that they are safe for use!
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To order from The Last Straw PH, visit their Instagram page and access the order form.
One amazing thing about Paraluman is that it offers locally-made products sourced from various parts of the country. It also actively supports artisans and small producers; in fact, some of the store’s proceeds go to local charities it supports. Aside from bamboo lunch kits, you can also purchase the store’s incredible wraps for holding the cutlery sets, such as the one above, which is made of canvas cloth and T’nalak and woven by T’boli women from the South Cotabato region.
Click hereto order from Paraluman, or message their Facebook page. You may also visit their stores at Jess & Pat’s 2/F #63 Maginhawa Street, 1101 Quezon City; at Narrative Coffee Co. G/F Philam Life Bldg., #126 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City; at Artikulo Coffee G/F First Residences, Jose Laurel Street, Malacañan, Manila; and at Butcher’s Kitchen 2/F Carport, 108 Biak Na Bato Street, Quezon City.
If you want a complete meal set and not just a set of utensils, The Bamboo Company is a store you should definitely check out! The store not only aims to help reduce plastic waste produced in the country but also aims to provide access to living a much more environmental-friendly lifestyle. Its products include the Kapecup (coffee cup), the Bambaunan (lunch box), the Bambootensils (utensils/cutlery), and tumblers.
Click hereto order from The Bamboo Company. You may also shop at their retail partners in Metro Manila (Biblio stores in U.P. Town Center, Ayala Feliz, Ayala Cloverleaf, Ayala The 30th, and Circuit Makati), in Pampanga (Outpost Lifestyle Store), and in Cebu (The Nest).
Things That Matter PH
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Things That Matter PH prides itself in being a marketplace which empowers women, supports artisans, celebrates culture, and upholds intentional, sustainable living. It also works alongside different organizations to help marginalized people in the country. For example, if you purchase one of their Earth, Too Mess Kits, you actually help provide one nutritious meal for children in public schools, conflict areas, and on the streets with the help of Gawad Kalinga’s Kusina ng Kalinga initiative.
To order from Things That Matter PH, you may click here.
Last Straw MNL
Are colorful utensils more your thing? Last Straw MNL has stainless utensil sets, which contain a spoon, a fork, and a pair of chopsticks, which come in colors such as gold, black, rose gold, and rainbow. It also offers stainless and gradient-colored tumblers that you can get as a set with matching straws (perfect for your milk tea fix!).
To order from Last Straw MNL, you may send a message to their Facebook page.