Remember when tossing your Coke can into the blue bin was considered progressive? Not so anymore. The new “green” is about more than what you do with disposable items once you’re done with them. Because, even when plastic or paper or aluminum gets recycled, it still, at some point down the line, ends up in a landfill. Nowadays, forward-thinking designers and manufacturers are considering the future of disposable products, including food packaging, and coming up with goods that are biodegradable and even compostable. In other words, not only do they disintegrate into the earth, they could even nourish said earth with nutrients. Think we’re starting to sound like tree-hugging hippies? Not so fast…
The movement is still in its infancy, but gaining traction. William McDonough, one of its pioneers, has become required reading in design and architecture schools around the world. His 2002 manifesto, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, outlines a framework that many businesses have adopted as a guide to green design. Major corporations from Nestle to Frito-Lay are devising ways to create food packaging that literally returns to the earth. And young designers the world over are dreaming up ideas for the packaging solutions of the future. Here are 5 sustainable food and drink products that are either on the shelves or still a twinkle in some young, green eye:
- Verterra Disposable Dinnerware
These plates, bowls, and serving dishes are made using just two ingredients: fallen leaves and water. Not only are they compostable, they’re also durable enough to go into the oven or microwave. And they look so good it seems almost a shame to throw them out after using them.
- Prima Water Bottles
When the Ritz-Carlton announced that it would be implementing these plant-based water bottles, eco-friends went bananas. Sure, using bioplastics helps limit our reliance on foreign oil and can be composted. The only catch is that you need access to composting facilities to do it. In other words, they won’t just biodegrade in the garden out back.
- SunChips Compostable Bags
Remember all that noise about the noisy compostable SunChips bags? Well, earlier this year, a new, quieter compostable bag was announced. Why they didn’t just make the quiet bag to begin with is unclear, but at least you can now enjoy a sustainable snack without waking up the neighborhood.
- Renew X Can
Okay, you can’t technically buy this one right now. It hasn’t been manufactured, but this idea for a soda can, devised by Haoshi Design Studio in Taiwan, could be the can of the future. It’s made of polylactic, like the Prima bioplastic, and so also requires proper composting. But, with Americans throwing away some 106,000 tin cans every 30 seconds, it’s a hundred times better than tossing your empties.
If you’re wondering what these biodegradable seed starting pots are made of, it’s exactly what it sounds like: cow poo. But don’t worry; all the smells and other icky stuff have been removed so that all you’re left with is a nifty seeding pot you can plant that ends up dissolving. Now you can get started on that windowsill basil or those backyard tomatoes you’ve been meaning to get around to.