Repurpose: Plant-Based Dishware for Your Barbecue

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Plant-based dinnerware makes picnics more eco-friendly

A few sobering statistics for you:

Landfills

  • In the US, 69% of waste is dumped into landfills while only 24% is composted.
  • 254 million tons of trash are produced every year in the US, 167 million tons of which winds up in landfills. This includes 96% of compostable food.
  • 93% of all paper is made from trees, and 25% of landfill waste consists of paper.
  • Paper waste emits methane as it rots, a greenhouse gas that’s much more powerful and toxic than carbon dioxide.

Waste Decomposition

  • Styrofoam cups can take 50 or more years to break down. Some sources claim that Styrofoam never decomposes.
  • Plastic containers take 50 to 80 years to break down while plastic bottles take 450 years.
  • Plastic-coated paper, which many disposable plates and cups are made of, takes about 5 years to decompose.

Breakdown rates vary depending on environmental conditions, but in general the materials in the disposable plates, utensils and cups that most Americans are likely to be using at their 4th of July barbecues this weekend will wind up in a landfill where they’ll sit for a long, long time.

Repurpose aims to change all that.

Repurpose Product Line

Image courtesy of Repurpose

Unlike standard cookout dinnerware, Repurpose is made from corn, a readily available resource that’s highly renewable. With no chlorine or BPA, there’s no risk of taking in unwanted chemicals as you eat. All printing is done with soy-based inks, which means that Repurpose is completely plant-based. Send it off to your local composting facility and it breaks down in 90 days. That’s all–no million-year styrofoam cups here. It’s a breath of fresh air for those of us trying to eat and live as sustainably as possible.

Repurpose has everything that you need for a great 4th of July cookout:

  • Dinner and salad plates
  • Bowls
  • Knives, forks and spoons (which they claim are unbreakable)
  • Cold cups
  • “Eco-insulated” hot cups

The folks at Repurpose gave me the opportunity to try out the dinner plates and utensils recently. I have to say that they’re some of the sturdiest disposable products I’ve ever come across.

repurpose with vegan dinner

I served up a mix of lentils, barley and sauteed veggies on one of the plates and grabbed a fork to dig in. The plate required a bit of support underneath, but it didn’t bend or threaten to dump my dinner all over the floor. The fork was strong enough not only to eat the dinner but also to pierce the carrots in my salad, which I’ve never been able to do with plastic forks and sometimes have trouble with even when using my titanium spork.

By the time I was done eating, the plate had gotten a little damp on the bottom due to the heat of the food. However, the solid woven texture prevented anything from leaking through, meaning that you could set this in your lap with a big, messy vegan burger on it and not wind up with ketchup and caramelized onion juice all over your pants. The fork does mark the plate up pretty easily but doesn’t pierce through it. And, as advertised on the Repurpose website, this dinnerware doesn’t have any strange taste to it like some plastic products can.

When you’re done eating, you can send Repurpose off to be composted or wash it and use it again. The plates stain a bit since they’re white and fibrous, but the actual food comes off without the plate losing its integrity. The utensils are definitely strong enough to use again multiple times, so the box of forks, knives and spoons that you get for the 4th of July will serve you well for other summer cookouts.

Repurpose Assorted Utensils

Image courtesy of Repurpose

Repurpose products are also available wholesale to give businesses such as coffee houses an alternative to disposable cups. Imagine if all the companies now using disposable dishes made from plastic or trees switched to completely plant-based alternatives that could be composted instead of dumped in landfills! The amount of resources and energy it could save is astonishing to consider.

I highly recommend Repurpose for barbecues, picnics and any time you’re feeling too lazy to do the dishes. I know my family will be using the plates, cups and utensils for our dinner tomorrow, and I hope you’ll give them a try for yourself this summer!

You can learn more about Repurpose at RepurposeCompostables.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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About The Author

Sam has been a vegan since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of vegan food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a member of Toastmasters International and currently serves as part of the Capital View Toastmasters club. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read, play silly card games and knit socks.

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