Plastic cutlery is everywhere, and most of it can be used only once. Billions of plastic forks, knives, and spoons are thrown away each year.
Like other plastic items—such as bags and bottles—plastic utensils can take centuries to break down, giving the plastic waste ample time to work its way into the environment and our water.
The Ocean Conservancy lists plastic cutlery as among the items most deadly
to sea turtles, birds, and mammals.
But, be warned, even plant-based utensils labeled "compostable" have issues.
First, just HOW compostable is it? How quickly does it biodegrade? If it takes years, months, even weeks to dissolve, this is still harmful for marine life, birds and other animals.
Second, since these materials generally need to be composted at facilities that can process such materials, how are these facilities supposed to tell the difference between compostable utensils and regular plastic utensils? Sometimes the plant-based utensils have a logo on it, but it is often very small, and they simply are not separated from the other utensils when going to landfill.
Finally, only certain facilities have the ability to compost these items. What happens when people take these utensils outside of areas that can compost them? Well, they end up in landfill.
What to do?
Refuse the plastic cutlery offered with take-out. Be quick…they love to toss those in.
Lunch in the cafeteria, bring your own.
Use real utensils for your picnic and barbeque…Fill up a bucket with water for guests to drop in.
You can invest in a cute little set that contains utensils, sometimes including chopsticks and a straw.
Or, like me, just grab a few pieces from the kitchen and wrap them up in a cloth napkin.