Your Health

Wondering if Bamboo Dishes are Really Non-Toxic and Eco-friendly?

Here's the scoop on what you should know

Bamboo dishes — you’ve probably seen them as a healthy and eco-friendly looking alternative to plastic bowls and plates. Maybe you’ve thought about investing in bamboo dishware for their hulk-like unbreakable properties. Or maybe you love them for their fabulous colors and modern style. With all of these amazing characteristics, it does seem almost too good to be true… right? If you’re wondering how bamboo dishware really measures up against all the above claims, we’ve got you covered. We’ll let you in on the secret: when it comes to bamboo, looking at what materials are used in combination with the bamboo really matters. Here’s why!

Need a Refresher On Melamine? We’ve Got You Covered

In a nutshell, bamboo dishes may also contain melamine. In some bamboo dishes, melamine is used as a binder to hold the bamboo together. Melamine is a chemical compound originally thought only to be toxic to the kidney in large quantities (1). However, new research is shedding light on just how much damage can be done to the human body from ingesting melamine. In particular, research shows that even exposure to low doses of melamine has consequences to human health. Exposure to melamine can negatively impact brain development and even reproductive functions as melamine changes how hormones are supposed to work in the body (1). Unfortunately, melamine is not a compound that has been phased out of industry use as it possesses many desirable physical properties even though it has been shown to leach from dishes into foods (2). The good thing though is that you can avoid it.

How Can We Avoid It In Bamboo?

Manufacturers of bamboo dishware will often boast that their dishware is free of bisphenol-A (BPA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or even phthalates, but you won’t know if a dish is made with melamine until you take a closer look at its materials list. So, the next time that you’re thinking about purchasing bamboo dishware, take a second to check the tag for melamine as an ingredient. If the materials list includes “food-grade melamine binder” or anything with the word melamine on it, just stick that dishware back on the shelf and check out some other dishware choices. If the bamboo dishes are brightly colored, it’s very likely that they use melamine. If you’re not dead set on bamboo, check out a roundup of other good choices for melamine free dishware! Some other good choices include:

  • Glass or ceramic dishware. We particularly like tempered glass for kids and outdoor eating as it’s very sturdy and hard to break.
  • Stainless steel dishes. These can’t be microwaved, but are great for serving food after items have been reheated.
  • Enameled dishes. Not only do these have a hip retro look, but they are also plastic and melamine free!

On the hunt for dishware, or know someone that is? Share the love and make sure that you can all get your dishware jam on!


  1. Bolden, Ashley L., Johanna R. Rochester, and Carol F. Kwiatkowski. “Melamine, beyond the kidney: A ubiquitous endocrine disruptor and neurotoxicant?.” Toxicology letters280 (2017): 181-189.
  2. Wu, Chia-Fang, et al. “A crossover study of noodle soup consumption in melamine bowls and total melamine excretion in urine.” JAMA internal medicine 173.4 (2013): 317-319.