You’ve probably seen so-called “eco-friendly utensils” perhaps while browsing through the latest trendy items online.
Or maybe at work, you notice that one coworker who’s always proudly flaunting their bamboo cutlery in the break room, while you wonder what the big deal is?
Most of us are well aware by now that single-use plastic is a growing issue. But how bad is it really?
Here are some numbers.
More than 100 million plastic utensils are used daily.
At the end of the year, this adds up to an estimated 40 billion additional single-use utensils entering our waterways and landfills.
Oh and this is just in the United States alone.
Let that sink in…
This causes astronomical amounts of destruction to our environment, our wildlife, and even our own health.
More on that later.
That’s why in this post we’re going to further discuss the plastic utensil predicament, then come back around and show you some great eco-friendly utensils to help you make a positive impact!
This means less exposure to unhealthy plastic chemicals and less pollution of the planet, helping to protect our wildlife and environment.
First big question….
Why is Plastic Cutlery Bad?
As we said, plastic cutlery causes an unfathomable amount of pollution, contributing roughly 40 billion pieces of single-use plastic to the environment each year in the US alone.
When these utensils end up in the sea, wildlife does not have the discretion to understand what is food and what is plastic.
This is why countless dead fish that wash up on shore have bellies full of plastic, plastic that was ingested and lead to suffocation or other digestive issues.
That’s not the only problem.
Single-use plastic cutlery can also present a variety of health concerns due to the chemicals it contains.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and BPS can cause heart and developmental issues just to name a couple.
When we eat seafood, most of the time we’re also eating these micro-plastics and the chemicals that come with it.
In fact, the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older.
Plastic in landfills is no safer, especially considering that plastic will take thousands of years to break down.
It leaches chemicals into the ground, and then the water supply.
Off-gasses from the plastic get out into the air we breathe causing asthma and also impacting global warming due to the released carbon.
You can start to see the vicious cycle here.
In fact, the average person eats at least 50,000 particles of micro-plastic a year and breathes in a similar amount.
Eating hot foods with single-use utensils is another way for toxins to leach into your meal.
Heat stresses the plastic and causes chemical leaching.
Considering how simple it is to use eco-friendly utensils that are safer for you and the planet, it makes a lot of sense to switch to greener alternatives.
Now that we’ve discussed some risks associated with plastic utensils, let’s go over some better options you can use instead!
Some of these, you already own!
What Can I Use Instead of Plastic Utensils?
Instead of using unhealthy plastic utensils, there are three main options of eco-friendly utensils that come to mind.
These are reusable, compostable, and biodegradable utensils!
The first being reusable utensils such as natural wood, bamboo, and even stainless steel!
These alternatives are great because they are made from safe, non-toxic materials and can last you for many years.
The second kind we’ll discuss is compostable utensils.
What are compostable utensils?
This eco-friendly cutlery is made from natural materials such as cornstarch or potato starch.
This is known as a bio-plastic and these plastics decompose much more readily than traditional plastics that are derived from petroleum.
Therefore, they are considered to be more eco-friendly utensils compared to traditional plastics.
There is a difference between compostable and biodegradable, however.
Compostable utensils aren’t really meant to break down in landfills.
They are meant to be composted either in a facility or in your at-home compost bin.
This ensures the proper conditions like water content, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and microorganisms are present.
Since compost is rich in nutrients, you can then use it around the home for lawns, potted plants, in the vegetable garden, and more!
The third type of eco-friendly cutlery to mention is biodegradable utensils!
These are similar to compostable utensils, except they decompose naturally in the given environment which makes them perfect if you don’t have a compost bin.
These utensils are usually made from materials such as corn oil, orange peels, starch, and plants.
In the following sections, we’re going to look at each three of these eco-friendly utensils in more detail and also show you some of our top picks!
4 Reusable Eco-friendly Kitchen Utensils
Reusable eco-friendly kitchen utensils are by far my favorite option.
Most commonly these will include flatware made from natural materials like wood or bamboo and stainless steel!
Both materials make amazing cutlery options due to their safety and durability.
They can be used indefinitely when properly cared for, saving you money over less durable options.
Because of this longevity, you can personally prevent thousands of plastic single-use utensils from entering our environment just by using one of these options!
The absence of plastic in stainless steel or bamboo makes them a much healthier alternative with no possibility of chemical leaching.
Although both materials are very durable, stainless steel will always be the winner in that competition!
If the utensil is painted, then you’ll want to make sure it is a food-safe paint and does not contain any lead or other toxic metals used in coloring.
For the sake of these examples, I will be showing you only non-painted eco-friendly kitchen utensil options.
This is because these are the safest options of reusable utensils available.
First up, let’s look at two amazing stainless steel utensil sets!
Stainless Steel Utensils
This portable 3-piece stainless steel utensil set from Hicorfe is a simple yet very practical option, and also very stylish!
Included is an unpainted 403-grade stainless steel fork, knife, and spoon all finished with beautiful 100% real wood handles!
This food-safe stainless steel offers very good corrosion resistance and is rust-proof, making them ideal for foods.
No plastic is present in this utensil set so you can feel good about keeping toxins out of your lunch!
Each 3-piece set also includes a rugged carrying case which makes transporting your utensils very simple and convenient!
Stainless steel is dishwasher safe, but due to the wooden handles, it is recommended that you hand-wash these to prevent the wood from degrading.
Our next stainless steel option is this deluxe set from a brand called Topbooc!
Notice I used the word “deluxe,” because this set of eco-friendly utensils includes your standard fork, knife, and spoon as well as two stainless steel straws, straw, cleaning brush, and even chopsticks!
Using standard reusable utensils is one thing, but with this set, you can also avoid plastic straws and even have some really cool chopsticks for those Chinese leftovers!
Like the previous option, these are crafted from a very high corrosion resistance type of stainless steel known as 304-grade.
This is widely considered the best steel to use for food consumption.
These utensils are also unpainted but if you are interested in some color, Topbooc has 6 color options to choose from not including this classic stainless steel finish!
Lastly, each set includes an insulated carrying case made with a high-quality Oxford fabric exterior and a waterproof interior.
Because these utensils are fully stainless steel, they are dishwasher-safe!
Before we get to the bamboo utensil options next, I’d like to also remind you that if you have silverware at home in your kitchen drawer, that’s a great place to start!
Don’t feel obligated to purchase a set of stainless steel travel utensils featured above when you already have some at home.
You can easily throw some in with your lunch before you leave for work!
If you do not have this kind of cutlery already or you’re interested in these options regardless, they are perfect for you!
If you’re going to be using silverware from home, however, check out this really cool utensil travel case!
Bamboo and Wood Utensils
This first set of eco-friendly kitchen utensils is from the brand GreeOn and is crafted from beechwood, a hard and strong type of wood with high shock resistance.
Similar to our first steel cutlery option, you have your standard fork, knife, and spoon for the majority of your eating needs!
No plastic whatsoever is present in this beechwood cutlery, so you can feel great about remaining toxin-free!
Wood is biodegradable and somewhat sustainable as it can be continuously replanted after the material is used.
Take those same benefits, shape them into very functional eco-friendly utensils and you arrive right here!
Included along with your utensils is a high-quality canvas carry case to easily store your cutlery!
Also included is an all-natural loofah sponge for easy cleaning after use!
These are dishwasher safe, however, it is recommended that you hand wash any wood or bamboo utensils to prevent swelling/ cracking.
This next eco-friendly utensil set from Luxano is made from natural bamboo and is similar to the second example of steel utensils, being a deluxe set!
Bamboo makes such great reusable eco-friendly kitchen utensils because it’s all-natural, lightweight, plastic-free, durable, and looks fantastic!
It will also biodegrade if/when it is discarded in the future and is incredibly sustainable as bamboo grows rapidly.
You can see each set includes a fork, knife, and spoon like the first example, as well as a bamboo straw with a cleaning brush and spiral chopsticks!
This will allow you much more diversity in your use and also help to eliminate extra single-use plastic straw waste!
Finally, you can easily transport your bamboo utensils with an included unique roll-up travel case made from organic cotton.
Same as the previous example, you should wash these utensils by hand to keep them in top condition.
Best Eco-friendly Utensils that Will Biodegrade Quickly
Sometimes reusable cutlery is not ideal for specific situations like hosting a big party or barbecue. This is usually where we resort to jumbo packs of plastic utensils. But by choosing the best eco-friendly utensils that are single-use and biodegradable, we can avoid this problem!
What does biodegradable actually mean?
Basically, it means that the material can be disintegrated by bacteria, fungi, or some other biological process.
Biodegradable, single-use utensils are usually made from naturally-occurring renewable plant sources that can break down in the environment.
Things like corn starch, bamboo, and birchwood are common materials used.
This section is focusing on utensils that biodegrade more rapidly and have single-use applications for large gatherings.
You wouldn’t purchase hundreds of the previous bamboo examples and throw them away after one use!
That’d be very expensive and very silly!
These next examples are some of the best eco-friendly utensils that are natural, single-use, and cost-effective!
So you can entertain large groups at parties while still winning the fight for the environment.
Keep in mind that these utensils are meant for single-use and shouldn’t be reused, although they technically can be!
If you do choose to reuse, I’d recommend only reusing once and to hand-wash.
Let’s get into these biodegradable options!
This first disposable cutlery set from Ibamboo is made from all-natural bamboo with no harmful chemicals and is 100% biodegradable!
Each 100-piece set includes 50 forks, 25 spoons, and 25 knives – perfect for your next backyard barbecue or holiday dinner!
Each piece of cutlery is crafted with precision detail, will not leave a “wood” taste in your mouth after use, and will not splinter.
Ibamboo ethically sources their bamboo so you can feel good knowing the product is truly sustainable.
Instead of throwing away tens or even hundreds of plastic utensils per event, grab these instead!
They will naturally biodegrade in landfills leaving no trace or environmental impact like plastic, making them some of the best eco-friendly utensils available.
This next 300-piece set of single-use utensils is from the brand Go Go Green and crafts their cutlery from birchwood!
Birchwood is a very strong and durable wood, commonly used in hardwood flooring, and is fully biodegradable.
This ensures higher performance than even plastic utensils, without the negative environmental impact.
A double win!
Each set of eco-friendly utensils includes 120 forks, 90 knives, and 90 spoons – plenty for even the largest gatherings!
When convenience is needed, these fit the bill without exposing you to any plastic chemicals and can be thrown away without any concern.
Use for large parties, BBQs, camping expeditions, packed lunches, and more!
Go Go Green guarantees your satisfaction or they’ll buy the cutlery back from you, anytime!
Great Compostable Eco-friendly Utensil Sets
Choosing a great compostable eco-friendly utensil set is another great way to be environmentally conscious while convenience is required!
Compostable utensils are different from biodegradable in the sense of process and outcome.
Biodegradable utensils will break down into nothing, even with very little oxygen, which makes them perfect for landfills.
Compostable utensils require a specific setting in order to break down, as we described earlier.
This is extra work, yes, making sure they are either discarded into your compost bin or sent to an appropriate industrial composting facility.
But if you are someone who wants to not only leave zero plastic trace but actually benefit the environment with your single-use cutlery, compostable utensils are great for you!
Once an eco-friendly utensil set is turned into compost, it can be used to fertilize soil for example.
This makes compostable cutlery environmentally-friendly as well as useful!
Another eco-friendly benefit of this kind of cutlery is that it requires less energy and water to produce, making it even further beneficial over plastic!
Keep in mind that if you toss these following options in the trash and they go to a landfill, they are still plastic-free and will break down faster than plastic, however slower than a “biodegradable” utensil.
Also, take note, some of the biodegradable utensils out there are also compostable and vice versa.
This is because most use similar plant-based materials.
Lastly, just like the previous biodegradable options, these aren’t meant for reuse. If you do, keep it to only one time and clean by hand.
The next two compostable eco-friendly utensil sets are amazing options for your next big event!
Our first featured compostable utensil set is this 300-piece bundle from the brand Compostables.
Included are 100 forks, 100 spoons, and 100 knives, and a recyclable storage tray!
These utensils are made from corn starch, an all-natural and renewable plant-based material with high heat resistance and high durability!
They use the corn starch to create a material called CPLA, a bioplastic that is fully compostable in industrial facilities.
This material looks and feels just like plastic cutlery, so it is a very easy switch from plastic and may be preferential to wooden textures.
Once you’re finished after your lunch or BBQ for example, simply throw them in your bin with food scraps and send them off to your local composting facility.
Next up, we have this extra-deluxe eco-friendly utensil set from Stack Man which includes 180 forks, 120 spoons, and 60 knives totaling 360 pieces!
Each utensil is also made from CLPA, a plant-based material made from corn starch.
These are compostable in industrial facilities like the previous option and even the packaging is plastic-free.
Stack Man’s utensils come in a rustic earth color which brings a very fitting eco-friendly vibe to the table!
We really hope this post has aided your decision of choosing quality eco-friendly utensils for any need you may have!
We looked at reusable, biodegradable, and compostable cutlery options that are all 100% plastic-free and safe.
Any of which is a very smart investment in your physical health as well as our planet’s ultimate longevity!
If you have any questions, simply contact us or leave a comment and we’ll respond promptly!
Disclosure: The products mentioned in this post were researched and discovered to be some of the best in their market. I did this as a resource for you in case you wanted to further explore that particular product/ brand, without doing the tedious research. I may receive a small commission if you purchase through those links at no cost to you.