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Patra Eco-Dinnerware Helps Parties and Events Go Green |

Patra Eco-Dinnerware Helps Parties and Events Go Green


The sustainable ways of our grandparents and great-grandparents, such as reusing glass jars and bottles, hanging laundry outdoors and foraging through nature’s bounty, were mostly employed for frugality, but as our populace becomes more conscious of the damaging environmental effects from disposable convenience items, people are pivoting back to grandma’s ways. While growing up in India, Tom Dorairaj, founder of Milwaukee-based Patra Eco-Dinnerware, observed how his grandmother didn’t like stainless steel dinner plates, which are commonly used in India, so she ate off palm leaves instead.

“She washed them, used them for a week, and then tossed them and got new ones,” Dorairaj said. He thought, why not cut the leaves into shapes of plates, rather than eating off a leaf? He noted that the concept of eating off palm leaves is nothing new. Before humans had plates, we ate off leaves: particularly palm leaves due to their sturdiness.

Patra’s durable single-use plates, bowls, serving dishes and cutlery are made from fallen palm leaves—no trees are cut during the process—and the dinnerware is compostable and biodegradable.

Patra formed in January 2015. They source the leaves for their dinnerware from India, as well as any tropical place where they can get leaves, such as Sri Lanka. They’re also making dinnerware prototypes with leaves from Caribbean nations including Jamaica and Puerto Rico, as well as Costa Rica and even California and Arizona. Dorairaj noted, however, that leaves from California and Arizona are more rigid and not as pliable as leaves sourced from countries with tropical climates, so they cannot be shaped as easily.

The stylish line of dinnerware is non-toxic, made without any chemicals and suitable for hot, cold and liquid foods. The plates and bowls come in dinner, salad and dessert sizes and are available in the classic round shape, or trendy square or raindrop shapes. Rectangular serving plates, dishes and trays, school cafeteria-style trays with compartments, and knives, forks and spoons complete the line.

Blue Ribbon Organics in Caledonia, Wis., did a pilot composting programs in which they used Patra’s products. Dorairaj said Patra’s plates composted in approximately nine to 11 days through Blue Ribbon’s commercial composting method, and he said the dinnerware would break down in a backyard composting pile or bin in approximately two to three months.

Business has increased locally and nationwide as more consumers and businesses realize how detrimental single-use plastic or Styrofoam can be to the environment. Much of Patra’s business is wholesale to restaurants and caterers, including UW-Milwaukee, The Bartolotta Restaurants, Braise, Bavette La Boucherie, the Racine Zoo, Tall Guy and a Grill Catering, All Occasions Catering, and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada. Patra Eco-Dinnerware is also available for retail purchase at Metcalfe’s Market in Wauwatosa, or products can be ordered from the website.

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