Save money with greener plates

Paper plates are perfect for a no-fuss party or barbecue. But the tossed plates add up.

What about those plates that claim they`ll break down right in your compost? Consumer Reports checked out two; Chinet Classic White Plates and Hefty Basic Plates.

Hefty says its plates are ‘biodegradable in home composting.’ Chinet says its eco-friendly plates are made from ‘recycled materials’ and they`re also compostable.

Tester Bernie Deitrick composted the plates at Consumer Reports` headquarters.

“I put one of each plate into a separate compost bin and then I went back each week and checked on the progress,” says Deitrick.

Consumer Reports also composted two regular types of paper plates; Dixie Ultra and America`s Choice; for comparison sake.

Of course, you don`t want your plates breaking down while you`re eating, so staffers checked out the plates at a company picnic.

Then there was the chili test. Bernie scooped one cup of chili onto each plate, and the plates were left on a lab counter to see if chili leaked through.

It didn`t. But all of the plates did let some steam through. The driest? The regular Dixie Ultras.

As for the composting, the Hefty plates disintegrated after three weeks. The Chinet took five weeks. It took longer, but both of the regular plates broke down in about three months.

If going green is important, the Chinet or the Hefty basics plates can get the job done the fastest, and they don`t cost a lot more.

Plates are great but more important is what you`re eating

If you`re looking for some healthier fare this holiday weekend, Consumer Reports Shopsmart says substitute beef with chicken, fish or even bison.

Some toppings that can add great flavor without a lot of calories include mango chutney, roasted red bell peppers or chimichurri sauce; that`s a blend of onion, garlic, parsley, vinegar and olive oil.

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