TODAY'S GREEN MANTRA: I'll buy what's made to last, rather than what's made to smash
Day 62 / 365
I will not be the first, nor the last, to decimate a dish through excited expressiveness or wildabeast-esc washing techniques. It hasn't been often that I've thought about the true ramifications of my actions, from cradle to grave of the smashed something.
There is very little available online covering the impact of ceramic plates, but I did find one study in which they were comparing the use of traditional ceramic plates with biodegradable dishware for use in the University's cafeteria.
In their study, which you can read through yourself here, they didn't include the energy consumption and impacts on the earth from the recovery of raw materials (in their case kaolin, feldspar and quartz).
|FALCON enamel cup + bowl|
- CRADLE IMPACT -
To understand the impact of these raw materials, I looked at the mining practices behind each of the minerals used in ceramics and their individual environmental impacts.
[KAOLIN] Kaolin is located by drilling holes in the earth which can range up to 200 feet in depth. To extract Kaolin, companies have to drill 50-100 holes per 100 acres to find the mineral in abundance and make the extraction. The mining of kaolin is acknowledged to have a negative impact on the environment. According to M.I.T, "[The] environmental hazards are present during every step of the open-pit mining process. Hardrock mining exposes rock that has lain unexposed for geological eras. When crushed, these rocks expose radioactive elements, asbestos-like minerals, and metallic dust. During separation, residual rock slurries, which are mixtures of pulverized rock and liquid, are produced as tailings, toxic and radioactive elements from these liquids can leak into bedrock if not properly contained."
[FELDSPAR] Feldspar, like koalin, is acquired though what is called 'Open Pit Mining'. As M.I.T described above there are toxic and radioactive elements from this mineral which can leak into the bedrock during this process. With fedspar, the primary pollutant of concern is pariculate matter (PM) which is emitted during the processing, crushing, grinding, screening, drying, material handling and transfer operations.
[QUARTZ] Quartz shares the same mining processes as kaolin and feldspere but has the added negative impact on miners themselves as the dust produced during drilling, blasting and shovelling omits toxic gasses and sut which may cause lung cancers and development of chronic silicosis.
In ceramic dishware production, once the minerals are extracted, they're mixed with water to prepare the dough, which is then casted, moulded and pressed using machines and fired in a kiln at 1260˚C. It is then given a coat of glaze (which is made up of chemicals itself and has its own negative impacts in its production) and fired once again in the kiln. The finished dinnerware is then packed in corrugated cardboard boxes and transported. This process overall uses a huge amount of electricity pulling further from the earths resources, on top of that, approximately 1050ml of water was consumed to create a 9"commercial dinner plate, amounting to a magnitude of environmental impacts surpassed that of biodgradable plates across all impact categories: carcinogens, respiratory organics and inorganics, climate change, radiation, ozone layer, ecotoxicity, acidification/eutrophication, land use, minerals, fossil fuels.
- GRAVE IMPACT STORY -(from the ceramic sustainability study) Ceramic ware is usually discarded when it is damaged to such an extent that it can no longer be used. As ceramic plates are subjected to very high temperatures while firing and glazing, meaning they are heat resistant. Therefore, they can't be broken down by an incinerator (which is good in some ways as they won't omit emissions in that process) but will find themselves living the rest of their lives in the landfill.
|TERRAIN bamboo plate|
If you're not into making the old new to you, (or testing your finds for lead) there is also Bamboo and Husk dinnerware which are two (normally) sustainably processed materials which can be buried in your back garden to biodegrade when you're done with them.
I've listed some kids brands as well as you DO NOT want to be feeding your little ones off of chemical filled plastic kiddieware.
[OPTION 1: ENAMELWARE]This style of tableware brings visions of cowboys drinking coffee on the open range but this style of creation was developed by the ancient Egyptians and will last you multiple lifetimes for sure.
[OPTION 2: BAMBOO]Bamboo can be grown organically and harvested from wild groves (not farmed plantations) and is a sustainable natural resource.Once you're finished with it (and this may take a while) it will break down cleanly when buried. There's a serious hole in the market for home dishware made of bamboo, but I've listed some of my favourite Bamboo brands here. Worst guy Walmart also sells bamboo dinnerware but I couldn't bare to put them on my good list, so please try all other options first!
[OPTION 3: HUSK]Another amazing alternative, Husk is made from natural rice husks which would otherwise be burned or discarded. They're dishwasher safe and completely biodegradable and they break down cleanly when buried at the end of their lifetime (they're great for the compost). There's a serious gap in the market for Husk dinnerware as well. I could only find a few retailers
[MORE SUSTAINABLE OPTIONS BELOW]
LEAD PHOTO: MTL,