My mother’s set of Corelle dishes has lasted her more than 22 years. We have a china set that’s been passed down generation by generation in my family. So why do we treat kids’ dinnerware like a disposable addition to our cabinets? That was the problem married couple Adam and Ai Su Bonnier wanted to tackle when they created Miniware, a collection of modernly designed, monochromatic, eco-friendly children’s dinnerware.
Miniware is designed in-house, made from sustainable plant-based materials, and dishwasher safe—and it’s meant to last for years. A set will grow with your baby, thanks to features such as detachable suction cups that allow you to attach bowls and plates to a tray table, or not. And once you’re done, the sets (made from materials such as plant starches and food-grade silicone) are designed to be compostable.
In creating the line, Ai Bonnier says, they considered “both the parent and the child, and what a modern living style with a focus on the environment means to a family.” That meant incorporating “contemporary architecture lines and shapes” into the pieces, instead of typical, cute shapes. “We believe the aesthetic and functionality has to be timeless, and pleasing for both parents and children, to be able to grow with the family,” says Ai, noting that she and her husband both have backgrounds in product design.
While creating a clean, modern aesthetic was easy, making sure it met the utmost definitions of “eco-friendly” wasn’t so simple. For example, Miniware recently introduced the 1-2-3 Sip! Cup ($14) in an advanced PLA material that’s made primarily from the cassava plant. Ai spent at least a year searching for certified factories, reading the most updated thesis of the production techniques, and visiting the production site to make sure all the processes were both eco-friendly and nontoxic.
The Little Foodie dish set of 5 ($65) is made from plant starches, primarily Cassava. The Bonniers plan to continue to evolve Miniware’s sustainability with the most recent eco-friendly materials that become available.
Even the glossy surface of the Little Foodie assorted dish set is a trick of sustainability. The smooth surface of the bowl comes from the mold itself and with no added substances, while the glossy, veneer-like shine occurs naturally from heating the plant materials at high pressure. And as an added bonus, this heated self-sealing process makes the dishware nonporous, so parents don’t have to worry about germs and bacteria hiding within the natural materials. The final product is a mod and understated set of sustainable children’s dishes that feel sleek but are safe and easy to use for little hands.
Four more environmentally- and family-friendly products, as chosen by Ai Bonnier:
Stokke High Chair ($270)
Stokke’s wooden high chairs transform over time into seats that can hold up to a 300-pound adult. Ai loves these metamorphic high chairs because “the design theory is similar to ours: modern, functional, and grows with the child,” she says.
Thule Convertible Stroller ($850)
“We love that an outdoor brand has also tapped into children’s outdoor gear,” Ai says. “Their strollers are super durable and perfect for off-the-pavement strolls but also look great in an urban environment.”
Green Toys (starting at $13)
“These recycled plastic toys are super fun,” Ai says. “My kid has a submarine in the bathtub and it has lasted for years.”