From bamboo to recycled glass, whether dining indoors or al fresco, these sustainable tableware brands deserve a spot on your table.
The sustainable eating trend is growing. From incorporating more plant-based, whole foods into diets to purchasing ethical cooking ingredients, eco-conscious consumers are increasingly opting to consume products that are as good for the body as they are for the environment. Non-toxic cookware and bakeware are increasingly more common these days, too. But when it comes to whipping up a sustainable meal, there’s one aspect you may not have considered: what your food is plated on or served in.
For a truly sustainable feast, we explore some of the best eco-friendly materials to look out for when shopping for dinnerware, flatware, and glassware. Plus, we’ve rounded up some of the top ethical tableware brands for all of your cooking needs.
Sustainable tableware materials
Plastic tableware is a staple in many homes. It’s dishwasher-safe and durable, the latter of which makes it a go-to for serving rambunctious kids. But plastic is far from being healthy or eco-friendly. The heating of plastic dinnerware can cause chemicals like BPA and phthalates to leach out—straight into your food or drinks. (Fun fact: even BPA-free plastics aren’t completely free of harmful chemicals.) The manufacturing of plastic is also resource-intensive and pollutive, emitting greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
A 2018 study published in the journal Science Advances found that only nine percent of the more than eight billion metric tons of plastic that’s been produced has been recycled. Plastic isn’t biodegradable and much of it winds up polluting waterways or in landfills where it can take more than 400 years to decompose.
“We as a society need to consider whether it’s worth trading off some convenience for a clean, healthy environment,” Roland Geyer, the study’s lead author, told National Geographic. “For some products that are very problematic in the environment, maybe we think about using different materials. Or phasing them out.”
Granted, no material—for tableware or not—is perfect. After all, purchasing a new sustainable dinnerware set isn’t without its own environmental footprint. But for those looking to reduce their impact on the planet, there are a number of other dinnerware materials to choose from that do go the distance, such as bone china and porcelain, bamboo, and those made of recycled materials like glass.
Shop these dinnerware brands for a sustainably-set table
Looking for some of the best tableware products to shop? Set the table sustainably with these dinnerware, flatware, and glassware brands.
1. Hawkins New York
Hand-blown glasses and pitchers made from borosilicate glass in gorgeous colors perfect for wine, seltzer, lemonade, juice, and everything in between. Stackable too for easy transport to the backyard. Hawkins is committed to supporting designers around the world, helping to promote artisans and communities by shopping small. These one-of-a-kind pieces are conversation starters and wares you’ll want to pass on to future generations.
2. Public Goods
Free from toxic chemicals like sulfates and parabens, Public Goods’ restaurant-grade dinnerware is as sleek as it is sustainable. Be the host with the most by serving your appetizers on the brand’s Oval Ceramic Platter. Or opt for a set of cereal bowls or dinner plates. The company also carries hand-blown glassware—tumblers, traditional wine glasses, stemless wine glasses, and more.
3. Our Place
If you haven’t heard of the Always Pan yet, prepare to have your culinary mind blown. The non-toxic, nonstick, and versatile pan is designed to replace eight cookware pieces, including a skillet, steamer, and saucepan. If you don’t have one yet, the good news is that it’s included in Our Place’s Dinner for 4 bundle—which features four hand-painted porcelain plates, bowls, and stackable glasses. The tableware comes in vibrant colors like electric blue and spicy red, as well as more muted tones like creamy oatmeal and gray-blue. Just like the Always Pan, the dinnerware is ethically produced and is free from toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium.
4. Villeroy & Boch
Flatware gets a much-needed upgrade with the sustainable artisan hand-crafted processes that reduce its environmental impact as well as promote ethical labor. The company uses sustainable packaging and is LEED-certified. The Medina flatware set is made from stainless steel and features scalloped details for stylish dining every time.
For non-toxic and eco-friendly dinnerware, look no further than Fable. Sustainably made and free from toxins, the brand’s Dining Essentials bundle has it all: ceramic dinner plates, salad plates, pasta bowls, breakfast bowls, tall and short glasses, as well as a 20-piece flatware set.
Looking for tips on how to curate a sustainable kitchen, zero-waste hacks are just the thing!