Saturday, August 28, 2010

Review: Palm Leaf Plates

Marx Foods offered all members of The Foodie Blogroll a chance to try their Palm Leaf Plates. I was interested in these 'Eco Friendly' plates and wanted to give them a try. So I requested a free sample. I got 4 square plates and one large round plate as well as about 5-6 small round plates that can also be used as shallow bowls. I also entered a contest with this review to win a set of 25 and won!

After having to work with Marx Foods to get these delivered (I live in a rural place with crazy address issues and they were very great at working with me so I could get them), they arrived in a box packed with paper. The plates were not wrapped but sitting in a stack in the box.They were however packed in with some brown paper. I honestly did not see the reason for the packing paper. The plates were not going to break or such. I feel it would have been more environmentally friendly if they had just placed the plates in a box. Also having the plates not wrapped in anything kind of scared me, I am a germ freak so I wondered about the sanitary conditions of shipping, packing, etc with free packed plates. How am I to know that there weren't bugs crawling around on these? I realize that wrapping them in plastic is also not environmentally friendly though.

These plates are made in India. Leaves that have fallen off of a specific type of palm tree are collected, rinsed and formed. The plates are pressed using heated metal presses and I was informed that the process of making the plates if very sanitary. The employees that make these plates are paid a living wage although that has not been verified by an independent third party. (More info on how these plates are made)

Once the plates are made, they are then shipped (via sea freight) to a warehouse in the US and then shipped via UPS to the consumer's house.


All plates have words imprinted on them. I'm not such a huge fan of that. Since they cost a lot more than disposable plates you can buy in the store and are probably only going to be used on special occasions, I feel that the words take away from the elegance of these plates.

Speaking of cost - if you wanted to order some of these plates, here's the cost you are looking at: $33.50 per 25 pieces / $77.25 per 100 pieces. Definitely cheaper to buy in bulk, but if you are looking at these in a budget sense (and since one or both of us have been in school since we've been married I tend to be more frugal than some other people), these are really expensive sine you can buy 100 plates in the store for a lot less (even the higher quality disposable plates that are also compostable and made with recycled materials.) When I asked about the cost of these plates for those on a budget, I was told:
Compared to paper, these plates are obviously much more expensive.  If you are going for a budget angle, these plates are considerably less expensive than renting china for weddings, for example.  But, for the most part, these plates do not fit into modest budgets for everyday use.  Our customers use them predominantly for special occasions … when they want to serve food on elegant plates and they don’t want to do dishes … but that they also want to be eco-minded.
I could see it, but not with the words on the plates. The elegance is lost for me when there are words imprinted on them - but maybe that is just me.

So if you are spending that much on a disposable plate, is it reusable?  I know people who try to reuse the cheap disposable plates (you know the ones that pretty much fall apart while you are using them...) so I thought that you all might be interested in how these handle washing.

Well the Dishwasher is definitely out unless you want to have them lose their form. I actually took the bowl out before it dried so I could try to reshape it with two bowls...
This picture above shows the bowl that was in the dishwasher under one that wasn't washed.
Shaping the plate - I decided I'm not patient enough - it wasn't dried out within a day so I took it out. It eventually dried out but did not hold the shape as I had taken it out of the bowl. It was a little curved, but the bowls I used were not super curved either. The bonus - no words anymore!
This is the underside, I think it is beautiful.
 
Above is a plate that was hand-washed. We had fruit salsa on these plates and the pink you see is the juice from the strawberries that soaked into the plate. It didn't come off. It may have if the plate could be soaked, but soaking would do the same thing as the dishwasher!

These plates can be composted when you are finished using them - so build up your soil with them instead of filling a landfill! Another bonus of these plates is that they are super tough and can hold a plate full of food without the person using them worrying about it ending up on the ground (unless you're me and are super clumsy!) It can hold corn on the cob, etc. just fine.
Verdict: If you're looking to find disposable plates that are eco-friendly and you have it in the budget, I'd say go for it. However if it is not in the budget but you still want to be eco-friendly - go for disposable plates that are made from recycled materials and are compostable but cost considerably less. Just do the planet a favor and don't buy plastic or Styrofoam plates! ;)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Crystal,

    I'll be receiving my Palm Leaf Plates tomorrow and will be doing a review as well. I enjoyed reading your review and look forward to my experience with the plates. I've used similar plates made from bamboo prior to this product and really loved the look and practical uses. I catered a large wedding and we used the entire bamboo line for the reception. It was gorgeous and the clean up was a synch compared to other weddings I've catered.

    My Best,
    Rebecka

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