How to Make Your Own Compostable Utensils at Home
Making your own compostable utensils at home is a great way to reduce plastic waste and be more eco-friendly. With just a few simple materials and steps, you can craft reusable forks, spoons, knives, and more that will break down naturally in the compost bin when you’re done using them.
Why Make Compostable Utensils?
Plastic utensils are hugely problematic for the environment. Even when disposed of properly, they can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. They also often end up as litter and make their way into waterways and oceans, harming wildlife.
Compostable utensils provide an excellent alternative. Crafted from natural materials like wood, bamboo, and corn starch, compostable utensils biodegrade quickly and nourish the soil. Making your own versions at home reduces reliance on store-bought disposables. It’s a simple, empowering way to make a difference for the planet through your daily habits.
Suitable Materials for DIY Compostable Utensils
The key is using natural materials that will decompose. Excellent options include:
Wood: Birch, maple, poplar, basswood, and pine craft sticks work perfectly. They carve easily and biodegrade well.
Bamboo: Sturdy bamboo skewers or stir sticks can become utensils. Ensure they’re untreated.
Corn starch: Dissolvable cornstarch packing peanuts make an innovative material for shaping utensils that compost quickly.
Natural cotton string or twine: This provides a binder when needed. Look for untreated, organic cotton options.
Avoid any materials like treated wood, plastic, glue, laminates, or varnish, as these will inhibit biodegradation.
With some simple DIY methods, you can transform suitable materials into compostable forks, spoons, knives, and more.
Making a Fork or Spoon
Forks and spoons are easy beginner projects. Here are two options:
Using wood sticks:
- Take a basswood, birch, or other stick. Draw a template of a spoon or fork head’s shape.
- Carefully carve the stick into the shape using a knife or wood file.
- Sand edges smooth. Wood glue and natural cotton string can attach multiple sticks together for support, if needed.
Using cornstarch peanuts:
- Imprint a fork or spoon head shape into a thick cornstarch packing peanut.
- Use additional peanuts to build up a handle shape.
- Lightly moisten peanut sections and press firmly together to bond.
- Smooth with sandpaper once dry if needed.
Crafting a Knife
Craft knives are a bit more complex but still achievable:
- Shape a bamboo skewer into a knife shape by filing a handle ridge and tapering one end.
- Optionally, coat the handle with extra cornstarch paste for shaping, hardening with heat.
- Bind a cotton string around the handle for better grip if desired.
- Sharpen tip carefully with a knife sharpener or file.
For compostable chopsticks, simply take two wooden craft sticks and join them with natural cotton string or twine wrapped tightly around the center.
Customize shapes and sizes as desired – make teaspoons, juice spoons, sporks, etc.
Decorate with safe natural materials like vegetable dyes.
Add a small drilled hole in handles to hang utensils for drying.
Benefits of Homemade Compostable Utensils
Crafting my own compostable utensils has been very rewarding. Here are some of the biggest benefits I’ve experienced:
Reducing plastic waste – I don’t buy plastic utensils anymore, keeping them out of landfills and oceans.
Saving money – Materials cost very little compared to constantly buying disposable utensils.
Using natural materials – It feels good to use wood, bamboo and other natural materials instead of plastic.
Creative, meditative process – I find the carving, shaping and creating process calming and enjoyable.
Conversation starter – Friends, kids and others are curious when they see these utensils, starting good sustainability conversations.
Fully biodegradable – The utensils naturally return nutrients to the earth after use through composting.
Switching to homemade compostable utensils has been a simple, empowering way to live more sustainably. I encourage you to try it in your own home! Start with a simple spoon or fork, and work your way up to a full homemade compostable utensil set. Our planet will thank you.