Do you have a suggestion for safe, non-toxic everyday dinnerware?
Personally, I stay away from plastic dishware of any kind. I have an assorted collection of dishware and glassware that includes clear glass, handmade pottery, recycled glass, and an old set of Wedgewood china that was given to me as a gift.
Aside from plastic--which is obviously identifiable--the most important thing to watch out for is the lead used in glazes. And it's not just brightly colored dishware from other countries that is a problem--most major manufacturers of dinnerware sold in department stores and home-decorating shops still use lead glazes, without labeling them as such. The federal government prohibits the sale of dinnerware that releases lead in amounts greater than 2,000 ppb which prevents direct cases of lead poisoning, but the state of California requires warning labels on any dishware that releases lead in amounts greater than 224 ppb, to protect against long-term health risks.
I like to purchase dishware from local potters. Many now use lead-free glazes and you can ask them directly if lead-free glaze was used.
The other option is to test a sample of the dishware with a home lead-testing swabs. That way you know for sure.
I've listed some links to websites with safe dinnerware on Debra's List.
And here is a link with a long list of dinnerware brands that meet the California standards. Remember these are not necessarily lead-free, but rather those that meet the California standards.
Environmental Defense has an excellent article on lead in dinnerware that includes phone numbers for some major manufacturers that can tell you about the glazes used on specific patterns. See Lead in China Dishes: A Buyer's Guide.
This answer was provided by our friend, Debra Lynn Dadd. Hailed as "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times, Debra Lynn Dadd has been a pioneering consumer advocate since 1982, specializing in products and lifestyle choices that are safer for human health and the environment. She is the author of Home Safe Home.