Using Natural Resources to Make Food Containers

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Compostable containers and many paper products can be created from fibrous plants instead of trees or petroleum based products.

There are so many problems associated with removing trees (see Earth for All Ages, April issues, 2017) that using already existing, renewable, underutilized natural resources sounds positively brilliant. Wheat straw, discarded after the grain has been removed for consumption for example, turns out to be great source material for disposable containers and dishware.

Imagine…we are on the doorstep of ordering take-out food or hosting a party using plates, cups, forks and spoons that are fully compostable. We can still enjoy convenience while adding to the health of the planet, not the pile in the landfill. We can support manufacturers that put unused resources to work, in lieu of removing valuable trees from our globally inter-connected ecosystem.

The collateral benefits of switching to compostable packaging should send ripples of eco-satisfaction into the heart of one who makes this choice. The whole process of producing compostable packaging versus the old school plastic plate involves less energy consumption, fewer carbon emissions, less depletion of non-renewal global resources, and radically different ending stories, while costing pretty much the same as old-school plastic. A naturally compostable carry out container brought home in a re-usable or compostable bag will never show up inside an unfortunate sea creature, dangling from a roadside branch, or as bits of micro-plastics inside the food on your dinner plate.

The holidays are a great example of a time when this new market should be in high demand. Have an event coming up and want to be a little cooler and green? Consider recyclable dishware!

What can you do?

Be mindful of both food and packaging waste. We can intercept the conservation/waste process at several points. Choose products made from renewable resources, like plants, that can be re-grown, or parts of plants that might have been wasted. Consider packaging as part of the food, part of process of consuming. Compost or biodegrade the packaging whenever possible, just like the rind of a fruit.  We eat the fruit and if we compost, the skin goes back into the life cycle. Nature doesn’t waste! Recycle materials that cannot be composted, but can be used to create some other sort of product. At least it will re-enter the circle, somewhat transformed. Be observant. Notice venders and businesses that make the effort to use compostable materials. Let them know it matters to you. Get product samples from the sites mentioned this month and show them to venders. Encourage them to get more information. Let them know that the cost is not much different, but the impact really is. Maybe they will convert!

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