Ah the great utensil debate...
amongst us the zero waste community the question continues. Wood or stainless steel?
Let's just start by saying either are infinitely superior for the environment than disposable plastic utensils. So if you prefer or have one or the other, great job! You are helping create less waste and are a winner in my book.
It does raise the question though, which of the zero Waste options actually creates less waste? Which is better in the long run?
That is actually a very difficult question to answer. In the end it will all come down to what you prefer.
Stainless Steal, there are a lot of stainless steel zero waste items. From bento lunch boxes to chopsticks. All of our water bottles are stainless steel and let me tell ya! After drinking from reusable plastic bottles my whole life, this is a huge change in water taste! I didn't think it would make a difference but it did! At least to my taste buds!
Stainless steel is made from some rather common minerals found in the Earth like nickel and iron ore. Then these minerals are heated, put through several processes such as multiple forming processes, cleansing residue, shaping and finishing. That's a lot of processes involving a lot of minerals and chemicals.*
Despite all of that, stainless steel creates a very sturdy product in the end. Eventually, even stainless steel will decompose but at a very slow rate. Stainless steel can be recycled!
To keep stainless steel in tip top shape, avoid leaving in contact with moisture for too long. It's very rust resistant but that doesn't mean you get to mistreat it entirely.
I have very little success stories with glass utensils (as you will notice, none as shown above). Everyone of them I get is marked for death by breakage shortly after I get it. I had a beautiful all glass tea set... until fate decided it was no longer meant to be.
I love glass containers though! I reuse every single glass jar that comes into our house. For drinking, food and general storage.
Most think glass is sand, while that is partially true that's not all. Modern glass has many chemicals used to produce strong, clear glass jars and utensils we all love. Pyrex is often used for measuring cups, for instance. There is a melting process, forming, finishing and cleaning process to making glass things.
Glass is generally very hygienic and sanitary to use but breaks very easily. It is not prone to leeching or rust. Once broken, it's generally not salvaged. Glass can be recycled!
To keep your glass items in tip top shape, be sure to cleanse them well and keep from dropping or applying force enough to break them.
Now for the wooden utensils. Wooden utensils make me think of wood elves or wild folk. Idk why. Mostly the spoons. You can find wooden spoons everywhere almost. Even on some disposable ice cream containers (you know, the little bitty tiny ones that aren't really spoons?). How much does it take to create those?
First, it takes the obvious, wood. The type of wood matters more than you think! In one article, it actually says that only 1/3 of the usable wood from a tree could be used to make chopsticks. Imagine the same could be said for wooden anything. That means a lot of trees will be cut down for these utensils.**
Then you have to consider the machinery to shape them, finish them and package them. Substantially less processing than stainless steel.
Another thing to take into account is wood is not a long lasting option. No matter what wood it is, at some point it will degrade faster than stainless steal. That means over time it will get cracks, splits and microscopic pores that will hold bacteria.
So, in the end it's all what you think is a better choice. Do you prefer something that is less processed but uses trees? Or do you prefer a more complex process but yields a long term option?
I love all the above! As long as it's not plastic, I'm all about that life!
What do you use?
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants