Know your eco-friendly plates, dishes, and tableware options and why alternatives like bamboo are bad
Tableware these days come in a variety of materials including paper, sugarcane fibers, palm leaf and bamboo.
Materials such as plastic that claim to be biodegradable and compost-friendly may not truly be so. Composting breaks down materials and best compostable material comes down to how long it takes to break down once in the ground.
The two most eco-friendly and sustainable materials in the market today are bamboo and Areca leaf. There are some differences between them though and we’re here to break them down for you.
Let’s start with the plants themselves. Bamboo actually comes from the grass family and grow in warm, moist and tropical climates. Commonly grown in South and South East Asia, bamboo is used in food, construction, making kitchen and household products and also as a biofuel. It is quite versatile and is one of the fastest growing plants around.
The Areca Palm tree - also known as the Betel Nut tree is mid-sized palm tree grown primarily for its seed - the betel nut. It is native to Asia (Taiwan, Malaysia, India - among others), Pacific Islands and parts of East Africa. The tree is commonly used in landscaping and interior design as it is easy to maintain and manage. Often grown alongside other plantation crop, the nuts are used in religious ceremonies and the leaves are used to make boxes, hats, fans, household products and utensils. The dried out leaves are also used as kindling for fires and as fodder for cattle after being rehydrated and softened.
Renewable vs. Sustainable
Are bamboo plates eco-friendly and are Élay plates sustainable?
Both Areca Palm and Bamboo are very eco-friendly materials and are an infinitely better choice than paper or plastic. They are both renewable sources of material which means they are constantly replenished and easily available to use without taxing the environment. However, relying heavily on renewable sources and materials does not help the environment in the long run. As consumption increases, it will soon outrun the rate at which the materials become available making it unsustainable.
Elay products and dinnerware are made with Areca Palm leaves - which is the only material that is both renewable and sustainable. Unlike bamboo, absolutely no trees are cut in the making of palm leaf products. As long as the trees live, they are a constant source of material which won’t run out or become unusable. This further reduces the load on the environment making it the most eco-friendly material available in the market.
Processing and manufacturing:
How are eco-friendly plates made?
Bamboo is grown and cut specifically for making household and kitchen products. Bamboo dishes may also contain melamine which is used as a binding agent. Melamine also helps give the dishes the colorful painted patterns making them bright and attractive. New research has shown that melamine (even food-grade melamine) can be toxic to the kidneys even in low quantities. Reusable bamboo plates almost invariable contain melamine making glass and ceramic dishes a better choice.
Areca leaf dishes are made by hand collecting the fallen palm leaves which are then washed and sanitized. These leaves are then laid out on customizable molds and heat pressed to create a wide range of durable, leak-proof and aesthetically pleasing serveware. The finished products are then UV sanitized to ensure safety. No chemicals, glues, polymers or any synthetic substances are used in the making of Palm leaf plates and tableware. This reduces flow of toxic residues and hazardous chemicals into the environment and keeps the products organic. The water used to the clean the leaves is also repurposed and used in the farms. The leftover material from the manufacturing process is soaked and softened in water and used as organic, all-natural fodder for cattle. This process makes the tableware a zero-waste product.
Usage and Durability
Can you put hot food on bamboo plates? How are Elay products different?
Paper and plastic dishes come nowhere near the usage and durability of bamboo and areca palm plates. Paper plates and bowls often become soggy and leave an aftertaste in the food. Moreover containers made of Kraft paper are coated with a thin layer of plastic intended to prevent leaks and soginess. This layer can melt when exposed to hot food, contaminating it.
Bamboo plates often contain melamine which is used to bind and mold the bamboo. This means that though you can keep warm food on bamboo dishes, they cannot be microwaved. Bamboo fibres are also fragile themselves so even if your plates contain minimal melamine, they still aren’t microwave safe.
Palm sheath fibres are hardy and far more durable compared to bamboo. As the products are made by heat pressing a single sheath to a mold, they do not require any additives and are completely free of plastics, contain no melamine, are non-toxic, have zero chemical additives or bleaches are 100% pet-friendly, eco-friendly, and health-friendly!
Are bamboo plates toxic? What is a better alternative?
There has been a recent increase in the number of bamboo plate recalls despite the material being extremely popular. This is because bamboo plates contain melamine which is used to bind the fibres together and mold the products.
Recent studies have shown melamine to be toxic when consumed beyond certain thresholds. Bamboo products containing low quality melamine can be toxic to the kidneys or carcinogenic. Microwaving melamine releases toxic molecules such as formaldehyde (which is classified as a human carcinogen) Additionally, although bamboo itself is compostable, the plastics and chemicals in it are not. This holds true for many products that claim to be compostable.
Tableware made of areca leafs contain zero additives making it 100% compostable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly. They are completely microwaveable and safe for humans, animals and the planet. They are in fact so safe, that the scrap material from the product is softened in water and used as fodder for cattle. What’s more, Elay products compost and breakdown completely in two-thirds the time it takes compared to bamboo. You can’t beat that!
So there you have it- all the reasons you should choose to use Areca Palm Products!