A good outdoorsman understands and lives by the “leave no trace” principle, wherein it is the solemn responsibility of those who venture out into nature to depart from the wilderness as clean (or cleaner) as it was before the visit. That means setting up a campsite that has minimal effect on the area (don’t chop down a tree to clear space for your tent, e.g.), following safe fire practices, cleaning up your trash, and packing out everything you brought into the forest, field, or mountains.
But having spent more than our fair share of time scraping old crusty oatmeal, mac and cheese, and other leftovers off of our camping dishes and utensils after returning to civilization, we sometimes long for an easier way to do things. With recyclable camping dishes, you can stick with the “leave no trace” ethos but avoid cleaning day-old food gunk off of reusable plates.
These are some of the best recyclable cups, bowls, and plates we’ve used while out in the field.
Earth’s Natural Alternative Sugarcane Fiber Plates
Now, mind you, we’re all about the “leave no trace” approach, but if you did happen to accidentally leave an Earth’s Natural Alternative Sugarcane Fiber plate behind at your campsite, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Not only are these plant-fiber dishes recyclable, but they are also compostable. These affordable 10-inch plates are made from the stalks of sugarcane plants, a material that would usually be discarded, and are unbleached, dye-free, and made without any tree fibers.
Naturally Chic Palm Leaf Bowls
These handsome and completely recyclable bowls from Naturally Chic are just about the most convenient piece of camping dishware we know of for one simple reason: You can burn them. Made entirely from Areca palm leaves, they are about as all-natural as a product can get, and they are quite effective as kindling or as a bit of fuel for your fire. They can hold cold liquids for several hours and stay reliably intact even with soups, oatmeal, or other hot foods for at least an hour. Chow down, then pack ’em out or burn ’em up.
Woodable Wooden Disposable Cutlery
Leave the spork behind, sir, and instead pack these lightweight but durable utensils from Wood Trove. The brand’s wooden disposable cutlery, made from all-natural Chilean pine wood, looks great and works well. The knife actually has some cutting ability, the fork stabs handily, and the spoon is … a functional spoon. You can wipe this cutlery clean and get a few uses out of it, or you can recycle it or even compost the stuff (though it will take a good deal longer to break down than your table scraps, mind you). While great for camping, Woodable utensils are also a fine choice for use at a party or event.
Govino Go Anywhere Beer Glasses
Camping without beer is simply anathema unless your campout involves a long overland trek, in which case
Tossware Wine Glasses
There’s a lot to love about Tossware glasses, and the fact that they are made from 100% recyclable and recycled PET polymer is at the top of that list. Despite the readily disposable nature of a Tossware glass as posited by the brand name, these cups can actually be reused multiple times provided you hand wash them. The 14-ounce wine glasses are sturdy and shatterproof, and they have a curved rim that’s comfortable against the lips. The company also offers lids that can secure to the top of the glasses, keeping your beverage protected against bugs and bumps alike. And if your campsite is one for sipping whiskey instead of wine, Tossware also makes a tumbler that’s perfect for spirits.
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