In an era where sustainability is at the forefront of consumer consciousness, every aspect of our lifestyle warrants consideration, including our dining habits. While the focus often veers towards organic produce and eliminating food waste, the choices we make when we decorate our tables can also make a difference.

Tableware, such as placemats, coasters, runners and other embellishing elements play an integral role in elevating dining experiences. However, choosing sustainable decor can make any dessert you serve taste that little bit sweeter.

What is sustainable tableware?

At its core, sustainable tableware embodies practices and materials that minimise their environmental impact throughout their lifecycle. From sourcing raw materials to disposal, every step is meticulously designed to reduce the product’s carbon footprint and promote ecological balance. 

So, how can we navigate the realm of sustainable tableware for our dining spaces? Here’s how to shop for sustainable tableware.

Choose a sustainable material

First and foremost, the choice of materials is paramount. Opting for renewable, biodegradable, and/or long-lasting materials is key. Some examples of such materials include:


Rapidly renewable and abundantly available, bamboo boasts natural antibacterial properties, making it an ideal material for placemats and coasters. Its regenerative nature also ensures minimal harm to the planet, as bamboo forests require little water and no pesticides to thrive.

Recycled plastic

Recycled plastic is often vilified for its environmental impact. However, it can be a contender for sustainable tableware when repurposed thoughtfully. By giving discarded plastic a new life as placemats or coasters, you can divert waste from landfills and reduce the demand for virgin plastic production.


Derived from the flax plant, linen embodies luxury without compromising on sustainability. Moreover, linen production requires minimal water and pesticides compared to other textiles, aligning with eco-conscious practices. As a fabric, it is also easy to maintain and can be popped into the washing machine so that it can be used again and again.


Leather is a much-loved material known for its durability and while it is a popular choice for upholstery, it can often be overlooked in the dining décor sphere. However, its character and timelessness make it a great choice for tableware. 

Opting for ethically sourced and vegetable-tanned leather like we use at Billy Tannery ensures a reduced environmental impact. By shunning harmful chemicals in favour of natural tanning agents like tree bark, vegetable-tanned leather placemats and coasters embody a harmonious relationship with nature. Furthermore, their longevity and durability reduce the need for frequent replacements, promoting sustainable consumption habits.


With its inherent durability and recyclability, metal is another viable sustainable tableware material. Stainless steel or aluminium coasters not only protect your table surfaces but also offer an industrial or glamorous touch to your dining room depending on the type and finish.

Invest in classic pieces

In the pursuit of sustainability, investing in classic and timeless tableware is a must. Aside from the environmental considerations, they offer practicality, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. Here's why it's beneficial to opt for timeless pieces and how to do so effectively.


Classic tableware designs stand the test of time. Their enduring appeal means they won't fall out of fashion quickly, ensuring that your investment lasts for years to come. Unlike trendy pieces that may lose their allure after a season or two, timeless tableware maintains its elegance and relevance, minimising the need to replace it every time you redecorate.


Timeless tableware pairs well with a variety of accents, allowing you to customise your table setting to suit different themes and occasions. By incorporating seasonal decor such as fresh flowers, colourful candles, or themed centrepieces, you can easily transform your table from a summertime brunch to a festive holiday spread. Fundamentally, classic tableware acts as a reliable, appealing backdrop, allowing your decorative elements to shine while still adding to the overall aesthetic.

Family tradition

We all have those fond recollections of knickknacks and décor from family members’ homes. Like these, tableware also has the potential to become a cherished heirloom that is passed down through generations. Investing in classic designs fosters a sense of continuity and tradition, creating a connection between past, present, and future gatherings. These enduring pieces carry memories of shared meals and celebrations, enriching family traditions and strengthening bonds over time.

When seeking out classic tableware, keep the following in mind:

Focus on quality: Look for tableware made from high-quality materials. Investing in well-crafted pieces ensures longevity and durability, making them worthy additions to your collection.

Choose neutral colours: Opt for tableware in colours that complement a variety of themes and palettes. Black, browns, whites and beiges are timeless choices that provide a versatile foundation for any occasion.

Prioritise simple designs: Select tableware with clean lines and understated elegance. Avoid overly intricate patterns or trendy motifs that may quickly become outdated. You won’t go far wrong with rectangular or circular placemats and coasters.

Look after your tableware

If you invest in quality sustainable tableware, you’ll want to take care of it to guarantee its longevity. Yes, its purpose is to protect your table from spills and stains but it's worth the little extra time it takes to look after your purchases.

Wipe coasters and placemats with a damp cloth after each use to remove spills and stains promptly. For stubborn stains, use mild soap and water, avoiding harsh chemicals that may damage the material.

Store coasters and placemats in a cool, dry place when you aren’t using them to prevent dust accumulation and preserve their condition. Consider stacking placemats vertically to prevent bending or creasing.

Finally, rotate coasters and placemats regularly to ensure even wear and tear, especially if the full set isn’t used every time you dine.

Ultimately, choosing high-quality sustainable tableware not only adds aesthetic value to your dining room but also contributes to the circular economy, where materials are reused and recycled perpetually by the planet and its inhabitants.

Our leather placemats and leather coaster sets are made from ethically sourced, 100% real vegetable-tanned deer leather and come in a choice of chestnut or bark brown. The placemats are available individually or as sets of four, and the coasters designed to compliment them are available in sets of four or eight, stacked perfectly and held in place with an adjustable leather strap.

For more quality leather pieces, shop our full product range.

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