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In this era of outdoor dining, my picnic basket (read: oversized tote bag) is always ready to go. Whether I’m eating takeout tetelas in a shady park patch or sipping sours on a concrete-covered roof, I’m going to need a few essentials: bug spray, a bottle opener, and some bamboo plates to divvy up the bounty.
For decades melamine has been the de facto material for lightweight picnic tableware. But a new crop of bamboo offerings from Toronto-based design brand Xenia Taler and L.A.-based design hub Poketo make a compelling case for branching out into new textures. The cheery patterns—tangerine terrazzo, peachy gingham, indigo triangles—instantly upgrade any alfresco situation, even if your picnic spot is just your fire escape.
My newfound devotion to bamboo goes far beyond aesthetics: The fast-growing grass is more sustainable than plastic-derived melamine but just as crack-proof. Unlike my precious ceramic shallow bowl, which I live in constant fear of shattering, I can use these plates all day without a single heart palpitation. If I had a dishwasher, I’d toss them in there without blinking an eye. And if they do break, the biodegradable bamboo is ideal for the compost bin.
Picnic purists may point out that Labor Day is behind us, but I won’t let the calendar dictate my social plans—I’ll keep a stack of these bamboo plates in my bag through October, though I’ve already migrated a few favorites to my kitchen cabinets. This winter I’ll pile potato salad on a pastel gingham plate…then head straight to the couch.