During World War 2, a new material began to make its way into cutlery: plastic. Nowadays, our kitchen drawers are filled with plastic utensils that we receive with food deliveries. This trend is ridiculous, isn’t it? No one needs plastic utensils delivered to them, and even restaurants know this. Yet, it continues as the default option, and it’s a conscious and wasteful habit.
Ready-to-eat takeaway foods, ranging from bananas to frozen pizzas, are expensive and low in nutrition, but they save people a lot of time. Unfortunately, single-use plastics, which are used once and then thrown away, are a significant source of pollution. According to data from world non-profit organisations that organise beach cleanups, utensils are the seventh most commonly used and collected plastic items.
Santa, can you bring it to the whole world?
Parents believe that when children get to choose their own food, they are more likely to eat it, and this can save time for busy parents. More than 20% of fast food meals and less than 40% of full-service restaurant meals are now being delivered straight to people’s doorsteps. Even single parents, without the help of a partner, are more likely to purchase ready-to-eat foods, which can be a convenient option for households with children.
Carry-on forks, folks!
Many cutlery companies now offer possible solutions with spoons and forks that you can eat. These utensils are made from millet, rice, or wheat flour, and are a logical solution for carrying your own cutlery. But it would be a faux pas not to travel with a set. The world discards billions of tons of disposable plastic each year. In response, some scientists are researching the use of raw materials such as bamboo to manufacture cutlery for use by airlines. The result is that edible utensils are being made.
Toting your own utensils when travelling is not only a good way to avoid illness, but it is also a logical must. By doing so, you can avoid worrying about germs in someone else’s soup bowl and carry your own little case. A spoon or fork can also be a sort of status symbol, like a pocket watch.
Following the post-war economic boom, the frugal habits of the people, particularly those from agrarian backgrounds, faded away. This overabundance led to the development of a throw-away culture where tableware was seen as disposable. This shift in attitude contributed to the Western culture’s trend of single-use products, leading to challenges in supply management. Beverages and disposable foods are among the most significant contributors to this trend.
To combat the overuse of plastic utensils, we can say no to plastics and bring our own tableware for onboard eating. This is a great way to reduce the production and use of plastic utensils.
Planet or plastic?
The use of reusable bamboo cutlery in aeroplanes has not only led to cost savings on tableware but has also prevented environmental problems associated with toxic waste and landfill waste. In fact, bamboo cutlery can be used up to 100 times before needing to be replaced.
To help combat the plastic pollution crisis, we must all take part in the solution. This includes carrying reusable cutlery, eating at establishments that don’t use plastics, and making sure that biodegradable or compostable materials are used for cutlery. By taking these steps, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans and on our land, protecting the planet for future generations.
Jashan Jot Kaur is a researcher at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.