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The increased use of disposable plates over the last decade has changed the way we eat meals but unfortunately its also had a negative impact on our planet. By virtue of being heavy duty and cheap, most disposable plates contain hazardous chemicals and release dangerous pollutants that could lead to diseases, and even cancer.

Thankfully, there are sustainable alternatives to tableware items like plastic disposable plates. Switching to eco-friendly dinnerware will not only help save the environment and slow climate change, it could increase the lifespan of the human population. Switching to eco-friendly dinnerware is easier than you might think, and it won’t break the bank.

If you’re looking for eco-friendly tableware alternatives, Chic Leaf offers palm leaf plates in sizes ranging from 6 inch appetizer plates all the way to 10 inch dinner plates. Perfect as disposable plates for wedding, plates for baby shower, picnic plates, and for food trucks.

In this post, we’ll cover the following:


Making the Switch to Eco-Friendly Dinnerware

Eco-friendly is a broad term used to describe something that is not dangerous to the environment. Therefore, eco-friendly dinnerware is dinnerware that does not leave a negative impact on the environment, whether it breaks down quickly, can be recycled easily, or can be composted.

In general, we should strive to replace all plastics with eco-friendly alternatives. This can be done a number of ways, like using a reusable water bottle and using reusable shopping bags. However, making the switch to eco-friendly dinnerware is a major way to reduce your carbon footprint and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are 5 reasons why you should switch to eco-friendly dinnerware:

  1. Reduces Ocean Pollution

First and foremost, it reduces pollution in our oceans. Every year, oceans are polluted with 18 billion pounds of single-use plastics--that’s equal to 5 grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline in the world! Eco-friendly plates will never end up in the oceans.

waste on an ocean beach

They are made from 100% natural materials like palm leaves and sugarcane, which means they are completely biodegradable. Within a few weeks, these plates will disappear completely and return their nutrients to the earth

     2. Reduces Landfill Waste

Eco-friendly dinnerware can be recycled or composted, and will biodegrade on their own. This reduces the waste we send to landfills every year. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has ever been produced, a whopping 79% is accumulating in landfills. If this continues, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills by 2050. To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent of 35,000 Empire State buildings. In the off chance eco-friendly plates make it to landfills, they will decompose and release nutrients into the soil in a matter of weeks, as opposed to hundreds of years with plastics.

     3. No Risk of Toxic Chemicals

By using eco-friendly dinnerware, palm leaf plates in particular, you eliminate the risk of ingesting toxic chemicals. When microwaving plastic or styrofoam, you run the risk of releasing carcinogenic toxins and ingesting them. Many eco-friendly plates use all-natural binders and are free of chemicals, meaning you can microwave them without releasing chemicals. Additionally, eco-friendly plates don’t release chemicals or gases into the environment after they’ve been disposed of, unlike plastic.

   4. Compostable and Biodegradable

Many eco-friendly dinnerware options can be easily composted since they are made from all-natural materials. Compostable plates are carbon-rich, and after being cut into small pieces, they can take as little as a few weeks to break down.

compostable bowl with fruit

After, you’re left with nutrient-rich humus that can be used on your lawn and garden. Not only is composting good for the environment by capturing carbon, it also saves waste from being sent to landfills.

   5. So Much More Durability

Biodegradable, eco-friendly plates hold up way better with heavy, hot, greasy foods. Plastic plates can absorb grease and cause them to become flimsy, which makes for quite the mess. Eco-friendly options like palm leaf plates can even be used with steak knives and metal utensils, which is more than you can say for plastic or styrofoam.

Making the switch to eco-friendly dinnerware has so many environmental advantages that you might think that they are expensive. The fact of the matter is, eco-friendly dinnerware can be just as affordable as plastic or paper plates, depending on which ones you choose. A lot of stores are expanding their inventory to include eco-friendly plates, but online for the most part is the best place to find them. Many times websites like Amazon and Etsy offer free, quick shipping.


Eco-Friendly vs Sustainable

Not all eco-friendly dinnerware is made equally, however. Sustainability is a higher standard of eco-friendliness, so to speak. Sustainability is the ability to maintain a healthy environment through ethical and sound processes. Just because a product is eco-friendly, doesn’t mean the manufacturing process and transportation was, too. If the process takes lots of energy and releases pollution, the process is not sustainable, therefore neither is the product.

Bamboo plates are a great example of dinnerware that is eco-friendly, but not sustainable. The bamboo plates themselves are biodegradable, compostable, and eco-friendly. Even though the plates are made from a renewable resource, the process itself is not sustainable. Bamboo plates rely on cutting down bamboo, which contributes to deforestation and harms ecosystems, strips wildlife of their habitats, and denies local populations of a valuable resource. Additionally, the process of cutting down trees and reducing them to sawdust releases pollution and contributes to climate change.

Palm leaf plates, on the other hand, are both eco-friendly AND sustainable. They are made from naturally fallen palm leaves, not at all contributing to deforestation or harming local ecosystems and wildlife. Palm leaf plates use the leaves that have been shed naturally, leaves that would have otherwise been discarded or burned. No trees are cut down or harmed, no pollutants or toxins are released, and very little energy is needed to produce them.


Why Palm Leaf Plates?

Areca Palm Leaf Plates are the best choice for eco-friendly plates because they’re environmentally friendly, completely sustainable, and stylish. Naturally fallen Areca palm leaves are collected, sanitized with turmeric and water, and left to air dry. Once dry, artisans form the sheaths into plates and bowls using heated molds. They maximize the number of plates per leaf, and several can be made from just one sheath. Since the sheath is not reduced to powder or fibers, there is no need for harsh chemical binders. Zero chemicals or toxins are used to bind or coat the plates, unlike other eco-friendly plates.

palm leaf tray with fruit

Best of all, they are 100% compostable, biodegradable, and sustainable. This means the plates will always break down on their own, leaving virtually no waste behind. They’re all-natural and carbon-rich, and can easily be composted and transformed into nutritious soil in only 6-8 weeks.

Palm plates are unique, stylish, and elegant. They have an elegant, wood-like finish with unique markings thanks to the way they are individually hand pressed. The plates have a soft, smooth texture with rich, natural colors. They are heavy duty, don’t splinter, wilt, or chip, and you can even use a steak knife on them without cutting through. They can withstand extremely hot foods and can be microwaved without losing its shape or becoming flimsy, and more importantly, without releasing toxins.


Dangers of Plastic & Styrofoam Plates

Plastic and styrofoam disposable plates are extensively used by households and restaurants. They’re cheap, durable, and always in high demand. Our environment is drowning in disposable plastics, though. Half of all plastic produced is designed to only be used once, and US plastic production facilities are expected to increase production by 50% in the next ten years.

styrofoam plates and cups

Plastic pollution has affected every ecosystem on earth, and has accelerated climate change. Many people forget that plastic comes from oil, gas, and coal. Extraction and transportation of those fossil fuels for plastic releases 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Matt Kelso, manager at FracTracker Alliance, said, “These figures really add up over time because you’re talking about millions of miles of pipelines in the United States.”

From the moment plastic is produced to the moment it is dumped in a landfill somewhere, it is emitting greenhouse gases. In factories where plastic is refined from ethylene, 213 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are released annually. That is the equivalent of emissions from 45 million cars. When plastic is exposed to the elements in landfills, methane and ethylene are released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. If we do not contain the rate of plastic production and plastic waste, carbon dioxide emissions from ethylene production will expand 34% by 2030.

Plastic and styrofoam plates are both made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic. Plastic is non-degradable and technically recyclable, although less than 10% of all plastic waste ever produced is recycled. This leaves 90% of all plastic waste to accumulate in landfills and in the ocean. Styrofoam is also non-degradable but has no recycling options. The only way to destroy it is to burn it at extremely high temperatures, which releases carbon monoxide. Styrofoam manufacturers were the fifth largest producer of toxic waste in the 1980s.

When microwaved, plastic and styrofoam release toxic chemicals into the food that can lead to health hazards. BPA and phthalates, chemicals to make plastic clear, soft, and flexible, leak into food when microwaved. They’re called “endocrine disruptors,” meaning they negatively affect our hormone balances.

Microplastics are another danger of single-use plastics. They are the result of plastic breaking down into smaller pieces under extreme heat. They’ve been found in crustaceans from the deepest parts of the ocean, as well as in our own digestive tracts. The chemicals present in microplastics can be fatal to smaller organisms, and can cause cancer, hormonal imbalances, and infertility in humans. 

Plastic and styrofoam can have disastrous effects on our health. Styrene, a liquid linked to polystyrene, was labeled a carcinogen (cancer-causing) by the EPA, and almost 100,000 workers face cancer, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems because of exposure. Due to rising health concerns, San Francisco and Seattle have banned styrofoam containers. Several states like California and New York have banned single-use plastic bags, straws, and containers altogether.


Final Thoughts

Our Earth has faced the burden of single-use plastic and styrofoam for too long now. The effects of pollution, overflowing landfills, toxic chemicals, and greenhouse gas emissions have accelerated climate change and irreversibly changed our environment. The only way forward is to slow climate change by making the switch to eco-friendly products, particularly eco-friendly tableware.

palm leaf plates

Palm leaf plates are not only eco-friendly, but they’re sustainable as well. Sustainability means everything from their production to the product itself is sustainable, renewable, uses little energy, and gives off little to no pollution and greenhouse gases. You’ll be doing your part for the Earth, saving money, and using unique, stylish tableware when you choose palm leaf plates.

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