We throw away billions of single use plastic utensils every year, and many of them end up in the sea and wider environment.
Plastic cutlery is everywhere, and most of it can be used only once. Billions of forks, knives, and spoons are thrown away each year and can take centuries to break down naturally, giving the plastic waste ample time to work its way into the environment.
The Ocean Conservancy lists cutlery as among the items “most deadly” to sea turtles, birds, and mammals, and alternatives have proven particularly difficult to come by, though not impossible.
At first, plastic cutlery was considered reusable but as the post-war economy boomed, the frugal habits gave way to a ‘throw away culture.’
That marriage of culture and convenience led to companies such as Sodexo, a French firm that’s one of the world’s largest food-service providers, to turn to plastic. Today, the company buys a staggering 44 million disposable utensils per month in the U.S. alone. Globally, plastic cutlery is a $2.6 billion business.
But convenience has come at a cost. Like many plastic items, utensils often find their way into the environment.
In 2016, France was the first country to ban plastic dinnerware. People around the world are experimenting with alternatives to plastic that range from potato starch and areca leaves to grain based edible cutlery.
Sales of such plastic substitutes remain relatively low, often hindered by higher costs and sometimes questionable environmental benefits.
A logical solution is to carry your own, but you’ll likely draw a few stares. For centuries, though, it would have been a faux pas to not travel with a set.
At Pousada Serra Verde we don’t use single use cutlery and dinnerware and have installed clay water filters in all our chalets to remove the need for single use plastic bottled water.
PLANET OR PLASTIC?
1. Carry reusable cutlery.
2. If you use disposable cutlery, make sure it’s made of a biodegradable or compostable material.
3. Choose to eat at establishments that don’t use plastic utensils.
Source: National Geographic