While nothing beats reusable dishware for your festive events, these biodegradable plates from VerTerra are a great alternative to yucky paper or plastic dishes. VerTerra (true to the Earth) plates are made from organically-grown palm tree leaves from India. The fallen leaves, which would traditionally have been burned on the roadside, are collected, sterilized, steamed and pressed into plates. The process uses no chemicals, glues or bonding agents, and over 80% of the water used during the steaming and pressing process is recaptured and recycled. Best of all, VerTerra’s plates are 100% natural and biodegradable!

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The idea for VerTerra began in the summer of 2006 when creator Michael Dwork saw women at a roadside food stall in rural India make plates by simply pressing palm leaves into what looked like a waffle iron. Inspired by this ingeniously simple design solution, Michael brought the idea of using recycled palm leaves for dishware in his final year at Columbia Business Schooland after months of R&D, entered his VerTerra designs into the school’s business plan competition. He won the $100,000 prize and was also awarded second place and another $100,000 prize at the DJF East Coast Venture Challenge.

VerTerra dishes are microwave, oven and freezer safe. And, because they are made from only leaves, they are fully compostable and biodegrade in as little as six weeks. VerTerra’s manufacturing facility in India is fair trade, ensuring that production adheres to principles of sustainable communities as well as materials.

$12 for 10-pack of medium plates @ VerTerra