When one decides to throw a party, it can be a rubbish clearance nightmare after the party is over, everyone has headed home, and you’re now starring at a huge mess to clean up! What many people tend to do to ease the clean up burden is buy disposable plates, disposable bowls, and disposable glasses. After the party, they simply grab a huge plastic rubbish clearance bag and start raking all of the paper dinnerware into the bag, left over food and all!
Wouldn’t it be more ecologically responsible to to compost those plate plates, paper bowls, etc, food and all, into your garden compost pile?
Of course it would, and you CAN actually compost paper plates and save them from the destiny of a rubbish clearance bin and then a landfill, although few people seem to know this. U.S. Consumer reports actually did a test of two popular brands of paper plates that claim on their packaging they are compostable:
1. Hefty Basic Plates
2. Chinet Classic White Plates
It turns out the Hefty Basic Plates composted in only three weeks and the Chinet Classic White Plates composted in five weeks, so at least in these two specific cases, the advertising about composting did seem to be true. Two brands of regular paper plates, not advertised as compostable, which are usually tossed in rubbish clearance like all the other waste removal after the party, were also tested. They were not advertised to be compostable but they DID turn out to be compostable. It just took longer to compost them fully, about three months.
However, here’s the problem. The paper plates have a stark white background, some with colorful designs. While these companies claim the inks and chemicals used to achieve these colors are non-toxic, most consumers would not be willing to take a chance on these chemicals actually being toxic if they’re using them in their vegetable gardens, or even their favorite rose beds. They would not want to risk that these chemicals would become incorporated into the composted soil containing these composted plates. Who would want to risk exaggerated advertising or toxic chemicals that are defined by regulatory agencies as “non-toxic” actually being toxic?
If you need a disposable plate or bowl, a better option would be to choose a more natural product than paper treated with ANY type of chemical. There’s an award winning company in India called Prakritii Cultivating Green that is making plateware and bowls out of the palm leaves of Areca palm trees. They do not cut any trees down to make the plates and bowls, nor do they even cut the palm fronds off the trees. Instead, they wait for the palm fronds to fall naturally off the tree and collect it off the ground. They then use a very natural process with no added chemicals to make the plates and bowls.
The resulting products are actually quite attractive, almost resembling expensive bamboo dishes, too beautiful in fact for people to be motivated to place in rubbish clearance bins! Further, they make many styles of plates that go far beyond the normal round paper plate. If placed in active compost, they will break down in only one week. They are thicker than most sturdy paper plates so they’re very utilitarian as well.
The plates produced by the Prakritii Cultivating started out being sold primarily as exports to countries like the United States, Canada, and European countries because India was not ready for the concept of sustainable compostable plates. However, it seems the young people in India are swaying many older business people to move in a ore sustainable direction for their benefit and the older generations are responding to these requests. So now, the Prakritii Cultivating Green plates are being used in many Indian restaurants.
These sustainable plates made out of palm fronds could quite literally be added to a garden compost pile, food and all (assuming no meat or meat grease was served), and then turn into organic dirt within one week. Further, they’d add no chemicals, other than those naturally found in palm fronds, so no synthetic chemicals, to the soil. Therefore, you could literally throw a party, compost these plates, food and all, and then use the soil to grow your own organic vegetables without throwing anything into the rubbish clearance bin.
Of course, an even more sustainable approach would be to use non-disposable plates, bowls, and cups for your party. However, if you’re planning a really big event like a wedding reception, these palm frond compostable plates seem like a perfect option. You could even request potted plants rather than cut flowers and then later plant these plants in the compost generated from the compostable plates and compostable bowls.
For other clean up after your event, you can call Clearabee based in the UK for their on demand rubbish clearance services. This will ensure that as much of the rubbish clearance as possible will be diverted from the landfills. Clearabee has a recycle and reuse rate that is about ninety percent, one of the very highest in the industry!