Why I Hate Bamboo Cutlery Sets: Zero Waste Rant

Another popular product that tends to pop up a lot when you start looking at zero waste swaps are those cute bamboo cutlery sets of a spoon, fork, and knife all neatly tucked into a cute fabric, roll-up holder. If you’re going for the zero waste aesthetic, then this is the product for you. But can’t you just think of an easier alternative that you already have?

Ding ding ding! If you said, “Using the silverware you already have in your kitchen,” well then you’d be correct!

Seriously, I don’t know why anyone thought that making those bamboo sets in the first place was a good idea. The huge principle of the zero waste movement is to use what you already have instead of going out and buying something new. I would be okay with people wanting to buy just the cutlery holder thing that the spoon, knife, and fork go into for their own silverware because it might be better than wasting napkins or a plastic bag, but those are much harder to find than the whole set. 

I think a big problem with this product is that people get caught up in the aesthetic look of it and they want it in order to live that aesthetic themselves. But you shouldn’t just be zero waste because you think the aesthetic is cute and this is a big problem in and of itself in the zero waste and minimalist communities, and I will definitely have a separate rant just on that.

I’ve used one of these sets before at a friend’s house, and I will be honest, they just don’t work that well. The knife doesn’t cut super well and I had to use a ton of force to get anything to stay on the fork. The only product that worked the way it was supposed to was the spoon, and I’d say that it is hard to mess up the design of a tiny bowl on a stick. However, I have seen some bamboo spoons that are barely even concave enough to get a good scoop of anything. I would rather travel with my regular metal silverware any day than take those things along with me. 

To me it is just a no brainer, take your own silverware to work with you when you bring your lunch. That or I know some workplaces have community silverware in a drawer that you can use and then wash and put away yourself. With this product, I would say that for most people it’s a want and not a need. You don’t need a bamboo cutlery set because you have silverware already. You want it because of how it looks and makes you feel. 

When it comes to buying these products, I find that it’s a good rule of thumb to ask yourself these questions before pulling the trigger on the purchase:

  • Is there a real need for this in my life?
    If the answer is no, don’t buy it. If yes, continue to the question below.
  • Do I have something at home already that could fill this need?
    If the answer is yes, don’t buy it. If no, consider buying it. 
  • Is it more sustainable than what I already have?

If the answer is no, don’t buy it. If yes, consider buying it.  

  • Will I use it enough to justify the purchase?
    If the answer is no, don’t buy it. If yes, consider buying it.

I say to “consider” buying it because you may find that you actually don’t really need the product at all and can go on living without it. 
So what do you think about the bamboo cutlery sets? Are they worth it? 

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