Compostable Servingware

by Eileen Kadesh

Planning a Party? How to Find Compostable Servingware for Residential Use

In summer 2011 my husband and I were planning a wedding reception for our daughter and new son-in-law.  The party was to be at the home of our son-in-law’s dad in Kenmore, with a guest list of about 45 people.  Being the ecologically correct person that I am, I suggested that we bring our own Corelle plates and bowls and combine that with those of the hosting couple.   My husband quickly nixed that idea on the grounds that it would be too much work for our host to wash all the serving ware after the party, and, being realistic about it, everyone would already be tired from cleaning up.

So, we tried to do the next best thing — purchase compostable serving ware.  Well, not being a business that needs to buy 1,000 units at a time, that turned out to be much harder than we initially thought.  Finding compostable serving ware for residential use locally was a real learning experience.  We were seeking plates of two sizes, bowls, utensils, cold cups and hot cups.  Napkins are totally easy since they are available at Kirkland PCC, as well as most markets.  Plates were also easy to find since Chinet plates are compostable and are readily available at most markets.  We purchased ours at the Safeway in Juanita.  The rest of the stuff – not so easy.

Here are the places we tried and what we found:

  1. PCC Kirkland –  small packages of reusable serving ware that were too expensive.
  2. Costco Business Center – Lynnwood Everything that we found came in quantities of 500 – 1,000, way more than we needed.
  3. We then tried ordering cold cups and utensils from Costco online, but when they were delivered we found they were actually made from some small amount of recycled material but were not actually compostable.  We returned them to the store.

I next contacted the City of Kirkland Solid Waste Division to find out if they could refer me to some local sources for compostable serving ware.  They suggested Cedar Grove, which actually has several facilities with retail goods for sale, but the sites closest to Kirkland were in Maple Valley and Everett… too far to travel.  If you have enough advance time, they do sell compostable serving ware online at Cedar Grove Green Scene.  However, by then we were running out of time.

I then tried Cash & Carry and even calling Tully’s and the PCC Deli to find out if we could pay them for some small quantities of compostable cold and hot cups.  No dice.

  • At long last, we finally had success:My husband found compostable cold cups at Party City in Woodinville.  Their  earth friendly Fabri-Kal GreenWare cups and Stalk Market bowls are made from 100% biodegradable compostable sugar cane fiber called bagasse.
  • Redmond PCC had World Centric compostable bowls and packages of compostable knives, forks and spoons, made from sugar cane fiber, corn and wheat straw. We later found that this brand is also available at Whole Foods (and, according to the World Centric website, at Cost Plus World Market)
  • Since that time, there is another store – Fresh Vitamins — next to the Totem Lake QFC, that has started carrying all sorts of compostable serving ware.

And, if you have the time to order online, Amazon and Naturbag also carry compostable serving ware.  And there is a site called that sells items for Zero Waste events and parties.  Not only can you order compostable serving ware in packages of 25, but the package also comes with collection containers and signage.

One thing to note –  Most of the compostable serving ware, such as GreenWare cold cups, comes with a disclaimer that says:   “100% compostable in actively managed municipal or industrial facilities, where available.  Industrial compost facilities may not be available in your area.”

In Kirkland, we do have Cedar Grove composting available.  I checked, and all of the products listed above should be compostable here.


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