We’ve tested different disposable plates on Life Goggles before – the ones made from potatos which Kev looked at and ones made from sal and siali leaves that I looked at. So when I was given some made from the Areca palm tree I jumped at the chance to test them.
Made by the Wholeleaf Company, the plates are made in southern India from leaves that have naturally fallen to the ground. Usually these sheaths are burned, fed to animals or composted. The Wholeleaf Co turn them into plates and bowls by soaking the leaves in local spring water, and hot stamping them with a mould by hand to make the plate and then cutting away the rough edges. The heat also sterilises the plates. And that’s it. They are produced by marginalise rural people and claim that if all the fallen leaves were used in this way they would employ 300,000 people!
But how do they work? Very well is the answer. I would have thought being made out of wood that some juice of my dinner would seep through but no, they’re well sealed and not even that easy to cut with a normal knife.
As you can see from the picture they’re strong too, although maybe if I’d had another orange I may have caused a problem, but they’d be perfect for a barbeque or a buffet where holding the plate with one hand is needed. Also you can see how different each one looks, I think that’s part of the charm.
Although they’re a disposable product – just put them on the compost heap when you’re finished – I did try and wash one. A quick wipe and you can use them again, but soak one and it loses shape.
The Wholeleaf Co. supplied the BBC Good Food Show this year and have a huge range of products – bowls, dishes, plates and so on, take a look at the website for more details. Or go to Nigel’s Eco Store where they’re £11.75 for a set of 25 plates, they have bowls too.