Talk:Spoon Fork Knife

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This is a cool design, but as this is a wiki for appropriate technology, a few thoughts to consider...

Firstly, $0.13 is a lot to pay for a plastic implement that is only likely to last a few weeks before it needs replacing (e.g. the teeth break or wear off the knife when cutting), it bends, it gets scratched or dirty. It's unlikely that the $0.13 covers the cost of getting it to the developing country.

It's common in countries in Asia to find very thin pressed stainless cutlery which uses minimal metal (e.g. when eating from a roadside vendor) It seems you can currently buy stainless steel cutlery (of or similar to European thickness) from China (e.g. through AliExpress or other sites) for as little as 5c per item, even in tiny quantities, so bound to be much cheaper in bulk. If a source for the thinner style pressed flatware could be found, it would be cheaper still to buy.

It's hard to keep plastic cutlery clean for re-use. e.g. it tends to soak up oil from oily food, which stains it (try eating an oily curry with a white plastic spoon), and is easily scratched, which creates rough surfaces that harbour germs.

Stainless steel cutlery could be expected to last for many years. Even if it gets bent, it can be bent back into shape (within reason) by hand and still be perfectly usable. Plastic tends to break more easily.

It would not make sense to pay more for a plastic implement that is essentially a throw-away item when you could buy a long-lasting metal one for less than half the price.

As the aim is to prevent the spread of disease caused by eating with hands, it is assumed that hand washing facilities are not easily available. Plastic cutlery can only really be cleaned with soap and water. Stainless steel can be easily sterilised with chemicals (e.g. bleach) or heat (e.g. by boiling or over an open flame) - you can't do this with plastic cutlery, which will taint, degrade or melt.

Stainless steel cutlery can be used for stirring boiling food in a pot - you can't do that with a short plastic spoon.

Stainless steel implements have the potential to be re-purposed into other things by local craftspeople at the end of their usable time as cutlery. e.g. to fashion a part to fix a piece of equipment or machinery, perhaps part of a water pump, to make a bracket or stand for something - e.g. perhaps for supporting a cooking pot or water boiler, to sharpen into a sharp blade (perhaps for emergency surgery, for doing crafts with, or for preparing food), fashioned into jewellery, part of an electrical circuit. A plastic spork does not lend itself to this level of usefulness.

Plastic has the potential to leach toxic chemicals into our food. Cutlery made of appropriate metals is less likely to do this.

We already have a problem with plastic pollution, it's better to not be sending more plastic out into the world.

And spoons & forks are not the only tools for eating with - East Asian countries have a much cheaper and simpler and more appropriate technology with chopsticks... which can be as simple as 2 straight pieces of bamboo or other local wood. Reusable, (multipurpose e.g. suitable for stirring and serving hot food), locally producible (very cheap or free), non-toxic, low energy, non-polluting, eco-friendly, carbon-negative - far more sustainable all round.

—The preceding comment was added by JohnGH (talkcontribs) 12:46, 15 October 2020‎


I love this type of analysis and critique. I also love open-source designs as they allow for iteration towards more and more appropriate materials, design, implementation, etc. E.g. as 3D printing becomes lower in embedded energy, more accessible and easier to use with plant based plastics, this nascent design may beat out alternatives on many metrics (especially including the embedded energies of shipping); this design could become the mold for other manufacturing methods; etc. Thanks, --Lonny (talk) 23:07, 19 October 2020 (UTC)