There are indoor plates, outdoor plates and paper plates. Indoor are mostly made of ceramic and outdoor are often some kind of lightweight plastic material, both of which are washable and reusable. Paper is, of course, paper. They may not be as eco-friendly as the first two types of dinnerware, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of paper when you are entertaining outside in the summer – especially because there is no cleanup to worry about. There are alternatives to standard paper plates, however, if you’re looking to go a little bit greener with your outdoor entertaining, even if you’re not ready to use and wash two dozen acrylic dinner plates after hosting the annual family reunion.
This Biodegradable Picnic Ware, made by Vegware is a perfect example. They are made of pressed cassava starch (from the plant that produces tapioca) and are completely compostable, even under standard, domestic conditions – which means that you can compost them right in your backyard if you maintain a compost area. The starch is quite thick and the bowls and plates are fairly resilient. They can be used for everything from soup to cereal and, while they will soften a bit if you leave liquids sitting in them (they’ll dissolve completely in about a week if left fully submerged in water), they’ll last longer than any one picnic will and are definitely still appropriate for all types of food. They are even microwavable!
All in all, these are a great alternative to regular paper plates – many of which probably won’t hold up as long as these will if they become waterlogged with barbecue sauce. Hopefully we’ll see more options like these in the not-too-distant future so all outdoor dining can become a little bit greener.