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Single-Use Can be Multi-Use

Guest Blogger: Katie Repsis. Millennial. Fort Collins, Colorado

Single-use doesn’t have to be used once. Certain items are unfortunately designed for one time use and the landfill. Yet, what if we changed that. In a perfect, circular economy there would be no single-use items, but that’s sadly not where we are yet. Instead of tossing that plastic utensil, or compostable bowl why not keep reusing it until you can’t anymore?

This past summer, we were enjoying a weekend breakfast at one of our favorite local restaurants. This place is pretty well known for using local ingredients, composting and providing reusable utensils. So, when my bagel sandwich inevitably fell apart I asked my boyfriend to get me a fork because he was getting some water (from the refillable water container). He brought back a plastic, single-use fork. I was disappointed, but noticed when the restaurant runs out of reusable stainless steel utensils they provide single-use ones. The fork is labeled with Produced with Plant Starch. While Plant Starch itself is made of renewable plants, only about 70% of this cutlery is made of Plant Starch Material. The remaining 30% is comprised of strengtheners that allow you to have a heat tolerant, strong cutlery solution. Unfortunately, these strengtheners are not compostable.

Since I had the dreaded “single-use” fork now, I decided to take it home to reuse. Well, fast forward to today (1/14/20) and the fork has become my work fork. I keep it in my desk at work for lunch. It actually works pretty well with my stainless steel lunch containers because it doesn’t scrape up the container or make a horrible noise. So, I have been using and reusing this fork for 6 months now. I don’t wash it in the dishwasher and simply hand wash after each use.

As I am writing this, I’m realizing it’s probably not super safe to keep reusing this for much longer. Today may be the last time I eat my lunch with the fork, but the moral of this post is to rethink single use and know that you can safely reuse these items several times instead of just once.

On this same thread, I acquired a compostable, paper bowl from Qdoba several months ago. The bowl remained totally clean because it had a piece of aluminum foil inside. Me being me, I took the bowl home to reuse. I still have the bowl and find it handy in the warmer months to gather vegetables and herbs from the garden. Since I’m not eating out of the bowl and simply transporting items in it, it seems safe to keep reusing it.


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