Tuesday, August 5, 2008

potato spoons and corn cups

There is one place where I can get frozen yogurt in a cup without worrying about the plastic spoon, Oko in Park Slope! Their frozen yogurt has the sour taste and steep price of Pinkberry, but they use biodegradable materials.

From the Oko website:

Almost all of our packaging is made from renewable resources, is 100% compostable, bio-degradable and petroleum free. Our containers look and feel exactly like plastic but are actually made completely from corn, our spoons from potatoes! Yes, we’ve tried it and don’t recommend eating them. Our napkins, hot sleeves and take-out bags are made from recycled paper.



Anonymous said...

Compostable and biodegradable utensils are one of my favourite sticky points! Here's my issue...it's a very impressive innovation, but in the end, some of it is still plastic. In fact, "biodegradable" can mean in some cases that it will just break down into to smaller bits of plastic quicker than usual.

The fully organic ones hold another problem for me. These are virtually useless in municipalities without industrial/community composting collection. It's great to be able to toss your sugar-cane picnic forks and corn plates into a green bin, knowing that the intense heat of a community compost facility will break it down, but if you don't have such access, you may actually be doing something worse for the environment. Most household backyard composters will not generate enough heat to decompose these materials in a timely fashion (some company sites say to expect a decomp. time of 1 month in an industrial facility, and over 3 months in a personal bin). If these articles are used in any significant volume, household bins will also be quickly overwhelmed.

In cases of packaging (organic foods are often in biodegradable or compostable plastic cases), you are simply guaranteeing a quick trip to the landfill or incinerator if you don't have the compost option: these materials are 100% non-recyclable.

If any of these articles end up in the landfill, YES they will eventually decompose, but then again, so will apple cores and animal bones and magazines...after a VERY long time (think of every time they dig down and come up with a perfectly legible newspaper with the Wright brothers in the headlines). Compostable plastics shouldn't be purchased or promoted unless the facilities are in place to deal with them properly.

Sorry if this sounds like I'm completely poo-poo-ing the concept. I think it's a great leap forward, but in the end, we're still just pandering to one of our greatest eco-sins: the lust for disposable and one-use items. Try doing the tupperware take-out trick--take in a reusable cup and ask them to fill that. You may get funny looks, but I've gotten fast-food workers to put my Diet Coke in my coffee mug.

I'm sadly not plastic free, but I'm getting better.

Love the blog, and good luck!

plasticfreenyc said...

thanks so much for your feedback. of course, it's a great reminder about the problems of one-time use products-- whether they're plastic or not. simply put, we should not be using and tossing!