I AM ALL FOR THE ZERO WASTE MOVEMENT…
I have been using metal straws pretty much exclusively since 2015, except for those few times I’ve forgotten to say “no straw.” I use bars of soap and even shampoo and conditioner in bar form to avoid those plastic bottles. These are easy swaps, but I’ve made other changes too.
I pack my lunch everyday, I avoid getting take out as much as possible, I use reusable grocery bags, I try to avoid getting groceries that have plastic packaging as much as I can, I use coconut oil bought in glass jars to remove make up and as a moisturizer, I use a bamboo bristle brush as a body scrubber in the shower, the list could go on.
But there is ONE thing about the Zero Waste Movement that I think is completely unnecessary for most people yet I see it all the time. All over Instagram and Pinterest; heck it even haunts me in my dreams now. That thing is bamboo cutlery.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything inherently anything bad about it. I’ll admit that it is aesthetically pleasing to have all your zero waste items be matching for Instagram and for home decor in general. But it’s really, really not necessary to buy a bamboo fork, spoon, and knife. Why? Because we already have a zero waste version of this sitting in our kitchen drawers.
People coming in to the zero waste movement who are starting from scratch might already be overwhelmed by the amount of replacements that they have to make with their household items, and the new adjustments to their lifestyle to which they have to commit. So I’m here to say that it’s more than OK to use the metal cutlery you already have in your home and bring that with you when you go out to eat at a restaurant or when you’re packing your lunch. Most of us already have an excessive amount of cutlery in our homes; we really don’t need to buy a wooden fork to carry around with us too.
If you want the wooden utensils because they look pretty, by all means be my guest. There isn’t anything wrong with that. But it’s not necessary to be zero waste, and if anything buying new bamboo utensils is slightly more wasteful than using the cutlery you already own because the new cutlery must be produced, packaged, shipped, and sold. Even if the company you’re buying from is using paper packaging and is also somehow making use of the wood shavings after the utensils are shaped, it is still causing more of an impact than just using a metal fork that you already own.
Again, I want to be clear on one thing: I understand the aesthetic appeal of the wooden cutlery, and I believe that many of the companies producing them are good, believe in sustainability, and make their products efficiently so that there is a minimal amount of waste as a result of production. If you really want to own bamboo cutlery then I encourage you to support these companies.
But let’s be clear that it’s not imperative to own this type of product when the majority of us already have something in our homes that replaces the need for plastic cutlery.
IF YOU’RE NEW TO THE LOW WASTE/ZERO WASTE MOVEMENT YOU MIGHT BE ASKING YOURSELF WHY PLASTIC CUTLERY IS SO BAD. THEY’RE RECYCLABLE, AREN’T THEY?
Well, not really. Most plastic utensils are actually not recyclable at all because they’re made with various mixed plastics and other ingredients. Some do have the little triangle with the number 6 indicating recyclability but unfortunately recycling these items is not cost effective so many places choose not to recycle them when they show up to their facility. Sad, I know.
Luckily, there is something you can do, and it’s easy. Next time you go out to eat somewhere that provides plastic cutlery just bring your own metal cutlery you already own from your house. Or if you use plastic cutlery at your place of work or at school because it’s provided there, bring your own instead. Easy. The one cool thing about buying a bamboo set is that they typically come with a carrying pouch, but not always. Personally I just wrap my metal cutlery up in a thin kitchen towel and throw it in a zippered compartment in my purse when I’m going out to eat somewhere that provides plastic cutlery such as Chipotle. Or when I pack my lunch for work I just put it in my lunchbox. But you can also look around for some sort of pouch or reusable back. I’ve seen some people use small small make-up bags usually intended for make-up brushes to store their cutlery in. Whatever works, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
USE THE SILVERWARE YOU ALREADY OWN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SHELL OUT THE MONEY FOR BAMBOO/WOOD CUTLERY.
We get caught up in aesthetics so much that sometimes we miss the big picture. You don’t NEED a bamboo set of cutlery, but if you want it that’s perfectly fine. Just like you don’t NEED hand towels that have a cute pattern, beautiful dinnerware sets, nice clothes, and so on. You can get all these things second hand, but if you like having beautiful things, if living in an aesthetically pleasing environment brings you joy then please continue to do so. But it’s important to remind ourselves that a crystal cup worth twenty dollars works just the same as a thrift store glass cup that cost fifty cents. Likewise, the metal cutlery you already own will work just as well as new bamboo cutlery that you have to buy.
Thanks for reading, and whatever you decide to do, do it for you. If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below, or you can find me on other various social media platforms, all of which are linked in the menu bar, I’d love to hear from you!