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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Wooden Cutlery?

By Rebecca Mecomber
Updated May 16, 2024
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Long before the first silverware fork was invented, diners feasted on meals with primitive wooden cutlery. The durability of silver cutlery and the easy disposal of plastic cutlery eventually edged wooden cutlery aside. Yet now, in an era of energy efficiency and conservation, wooden cutlery has seen a comeback. Although it is not nearly as durable and sanitary as its metal counterparts, wooden cutlery is prized as safe, lightweight disposable cutlery constructed from renewable resources, and it is easily recycled.

Wooden cutlery is a natural product, constructed from an abundant, renewable resource — wood — and it is 100 percent compostable. Bamboo cutlery, made from the fast-growing, quickly replenished bamboo trees, is very environmentally friendly. When compared with the oil-based, non-biodegradable plastic types of cutlery that glut the world's landfills, wooden cutlery is a safe and superior alternative. Wooden cutlery also can be constructed of any type of hardwood, such as birch and maple. Recycling wood cutlery with other food waste helps solve the growing problem of plastics and other non-biodegradable and hazardous materials in landfills and soil.

Wood is an absorbent, porous material, soaking in moisture and bacteria from food and water. For this reason, wooden cutlery is not sanitary and is unsuited for long-term use, as silverware is. Wooden cutlery made from certain types of wood, such as cedar or cypress, could contaminate food with its strong odors and oily resins. Wooden cutlery constructed of wood byproducts, imported wood or recycled wood might be exposed to chemicals during the washing or manufacturing process.

Most wooden cutlery is carefully sanded and smoothed for safe use. Wood does dry out, however, and it might develop splinters or cracks if it is improperly stored or handled. The dangers of splintering is indeed rare, but must be mentioned when comparing wooden cutlery to the safety of silver and plastic ware.

Wooden cutlery is safe for the environment and a very adequate replacement for plastics for food preparation and consumption. When used as disposable cutlery intended for one or two uses, wooden cutlery can be superior. As a long-term utensil for everyday use, however, wooden cutlery is not as durable and is not recommended.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1007224 — On Jun 20, 2022

So, instead of properly recycling plastic cutlery, we will just cut down more trees for wood cutlery?

By anon350989 — On Oct 09, 2013

My boyfriend and I just attended a wedding in New York three weeks ago and the couple that got married also chose to use Eco-gecko wooden cutlery. I was impressed with the look and they told me they bought them online. Apparently they are very affordable. I am considering using them for our own wedding which will be outdoors. I think they would look especially good in a rustic setting.

By anon309151 — On Dec 14, 2012

Thanks for your article about wooden cutlery and bamboo cutlery. It's great to see so many more alternatives to disposable plastic cutlery on the market now. I buy wooden cutlery online for our cafe which are made by Eco-gecko. They are exactly how your article described.

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