On breakfast and dinner tables across Los Angeles, the dishes used to serve a meal are increasingly becoming as important as the food they contain.
In the move toward incorporating sustainability practices in everyday life, brands are offering up statement bowls — for both serving and eating from — made from mango wood, corn or bamboo. Produced in a way that doesn't harm the environment, the table-top pieces serve another purpose: In many cases, buying them helps artisan communities and fair-trade practices around the world.
"You don't have to sacrifice style when it comes to eco-entertaining," said Maria Casey, founder of BUHO (shopbuho.co), a Los Angeles-based e-commerce platform that launched in June and that focuses specifically on sustainable home and fashion items. "Also, most of these items are handcrafted, which means no two products look exactly the same, so your tablescape won't look like any other."
Casey suggested that in seeking out eco-conscious products, consider labels that use terms like "handmade," "ethical," "vintage" and "locally made."
Here are a few that recently caught our eye.
The cereal bowls by designer Xenia Taler (above) are made from bamboo discarded by industrial manufacturers. "Excess scraps are gathered from bamboo furniture or chopstick manufacturers and ground into a powder," said Taler. The powder is mixed with corn starch and a food-grade melamine binder to mold into tableware. They are free of BPA, PVC and phthalates. $40 for a set of 4 at ofakind.com
With a sky-blue exterior and white interior, this fruit or bread bowl was made using 100% recycled textiles, hand-fashioned by a designer named Norma in her home studio in Porto, Portugal. A nontoxic water-based varnish adds a bit of luster. $49 at seven-smith.com
Made from wood of the mango tree and a white enamel interior, this medium-sized bowl is from Be Home, a Northern California-based company that works with craftsmen in Thailand, Bolivia and Indonesia to create sustainably produced home products. $24 at shopbuho.co
Handmade in small batches according to fair trade practices in Luxor, Egypt, this Meritaten alabaster bowl from Baladi Home has natural marbling thanks to thousands of years of minerals streaking through the stone, so each one is different. $42 at shop.donegood.com
Mbare, an Athens, Ga.-based e-commerce site, provides financial support to more than 2,000 artisans in Africa by showcasing their offerings. From a South African designer known as Julia K comes a series of bowls in ceramic, painted with the acacia tree. Each one is hand-made, so no two are alike. $38 to $78 at mbare.com
A colorful vehicle for a salad or bowl of quinoa is the approximately 9.4-inch round bowl from Dutch brand Zuperzozial. From the brand's Raw Earth Collection, the bowl is fashioned from corn and bamboo and reinforced with melamine, and is fully biodegradable. It comes in colors like orange, blue and willow green. $28 at uniekliving.com