On Buying Sustainable Plates … Slowly

When I think of Sarah Rae's 160 plates, I have to laugh at my own meager collection – of three. But, for me, those three plates are some of the best purchases I've ever made and, slowly but surely, perhaps one at a time, they will be joined by others. Why so few? It has to do with finances, but also a lot more…

A couple of months ago, my partner and I moved from a small studio to an apartment with a real bedroom, kitchen, and dining room, and realized we needed, or wanted, more things for our home. Each time I have made a new acquisition, whether it's a kitchen scrub brush or a bookcase, I have tried to choose items that are not only nice to look at but also thoughtfully produced. I want the things we own and use to have meaning, to do as little harm as possible to the environment, and to last a lifetime.

Now that we have a proper dining room and table, we decided to replace our youthful, and chipped, mishmash of dishes from the Japanese 99-cent store with something more "grown up." (We gave the old ones to friends and Goodwill.) But each time I came close to purchasing a set of new white dishware, I stopped, wary that it was made in China, or didn't look durable, or that we might not like the way it looked in five years. Then I remembered Heath Ceramics, the designer of products that are handcrafted in the state where I live (California), in facilities that are socially and environmentally responsible. (Read about their full history and values here.) We became especially smitten with their Coupe tableware line, which was designed in 1948 but is truly timeless. Perfect, right? ... except for the price tag.

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I nearly gave up on the idea, for $31.50 is a lot for us to spend on a single dinner plate. But then we decided that, for us, the cost was worth it. We could get a full set of dishes at IKEA or Target for a fraction of the price, but we'd rather pay more to support quality, sustainability, and beauty – even if it takes us months or years! So, thus far, we have bought our first three plates from Heath and will budget and buy more as we can afford them. We fully appreciate the dishes at dinnertime and are mindful when cleaning and storing them. We have heard tales of Heath plates lasting for decades, even being passed on to the next generation. We know not everyone has the luxury of doing this, but for us it's an investment we are proud to make.

Have you ever approached a purchase this way, whether it's dishware or other items for your home?

Related: How To Buy Only What You Love and Need

(Images: Emily Ho, Heath Ceramics)

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