What If We Can Eat Plastic?
Yes, you read that right.
What if someone came up with edible plastic? Wouldn’t that be totally rad?
Published by Wave Tribe
I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed recently when I saw this totally awesome video about edible plastic pods.
It’s called Ooho, and it was developed by a London-based start-up company, Skipping Rocks Labs, which is seeking to create sustainable alternatives to single-serving plastic bottles.
The average American buys about an average of 13 single-use bottles per month, which he promptly throws away after using.
That’s about 50 billion plastic drinking bottles per year which end up in our landfills or clog our waterways.
These plastic eventually end up in the ocean where they accumulate into a gigantic floating island of plastic the size of Texas off our coast.
Now, these guys at Skipping Rocks Lab are trying to stop future billions of bottles from reaching the ocean by addressing the root cause of the problem. Stop the use of plastic by providing a biodegradable, eco-friendly and cool alternative. Ingenious, right?
Just the company after my own heart.
Now, you might wonder how the hell can Ooho plastic be edible. As it turns out, it’s not exactly plastic the way we understand it.
Ooho is made from seaweed, which means it can be eaten whole. The” bottle”-or bubble, really- is created through the process of spherification, which results in an edible membrane or capsule. Ooho can hold any liquid from soap to soda and can be made with any color and flavor. The best part: it will biodegrade naturally in 4-6 weeks.
According to the start-up, the process in producing one Ooho creates five times less carbon dioxide, nine times less energy than producing one real plastic bottle. And it only costs 2 cents to make!
A Wave of Game-changers
So now, that got me thinking. After recently writing about the threat of plastic pollution in our oceans in my blog, I wondered who else in the whole world is thinking along similar lines.
Because every little bit of support helps. And if we can spread our collective eco-awareness by amplifying information about these initiatives, then hopefully, there will be enough momentum to support a paradigm shift in our collective need for plastic.
It’s like chasing a wave. The wavelet starts small but then, pushed by wind and joined by others, it becomes a swell. When it reaches the land, it changes form and gets higher and higher, until it can no longer support itself and it breaks, becoming surf and dispersing through the wide shores.
So, here are some of the ingenious green initiatives that I have dug up so far on the internet.
The process in producing one Ooho creates five times less carbon dioxide, nine times less energy than producing one real plastic bottle.
— Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder
Surfing on Mushrooms
This idea seems so out there, but it really is true. Mushrooms are invading the eco-design industry by replacing many toxic materials that are used in eco-gear.
The conventional surfboard is toxic and loaded with materials that, when discarded, won’t degrade into the environment. That is because the board material is made from polyurethane foam which is wasteful to produce and coated with a resin which is equally toxic enough that when it peels off into the ocean, it will poison any marine creature swallowing large amounts of it.
Now Ecovative Designs has discovered a way to create sustainable surfboards by using mushrooms grown from farm waste. The mushrooms are then harvested and dried into Myco Foam, which is just as strong and sturdy as conventional surfboard foams, but will naturally decompose when broken or discarded in the ocean. Not only do they cost less to produce but they also reduce the surfing industry’s carbon footprint.
French fries as Plastic Bags
Well, not really. It’s the leftover potato residues from the production of French fries and potato chips that are being combined with polyurethane to produce a bioplastic bag that is thinner but stronger than conventional plastic bags.
Starch-based bio-bags are actually being used now for a variety of pharmaceutical and agricultural applications. If adopted on a wider commercial scale, this would actually be a really good alternative for the plastic shopping bags that we generally use today.
Edible Spoons and Forks
Next to straws, plastic spoons and forks are one of the common plastic items that end up in the ocean killing off marine wildlife. Now, what if edible utensils were included in your next take-out order? Cool, right?
Bakeys Edible Cutlery creates fantastic vegan spoons and forks which even come in three flavors. These are all natural, and you can actually eat them afterwards—or if you don’t, it will just decompose naturally.
Made of sorghum flour, these utensils can last for an average of three years when stored properly. Also, it costs less to produce; according to a company representative, “Of the energy it takes to produce one plastic utensil, we can produce 100 sorghum-based spoons”.
Plastic Bags from Cassava
In Southeast Asia, Avani Eco has developed the cassava root crop to become a primary material in their rain ponchos and bio-bags. Using a simple recipe of cassava starch, vegetable oil, and organic resins, they created a biodegradable and compostable cassava plastic.
The best part is that it looks, feels, and performs like plastic but it’s 100% eco-friendly. It’s also now being used for hospital covers.
Hemp for Bioplastics
Add another gold star for this ‘lowly’ weed. From textile to automotive furnishings, hemp has proven to be to a versatile and natural resource. Now, hemp is being considered as a feedstock for 3D printers because it’s affordable, toxin-free, recyclable and abundant. This means that in the future, as 3D printers become more affordable and available, people will be printing stuff made out of hemp-based material.
Our Own Bit of Contribution
Here at Wave Tribe, we use hemp as the main material for our world-class surfing board bags. It’s our own way of showing that surfing as a sport need not be an ecologically toxic endeavor and that there are sustainable alternatives out there.
Our products are crafted with a desire to be ecologically innovative because we want to rebuild the symbiotic relationship between surfing and the ocean. You can’t do that if you’re using toxic and unsustainable eco-wear and gear. Or contributing to that massive plastic junk of an island floating between California and Hawaii.
So this is why I am so stoked to learn about initiatives like the edible plastic pods and mushroom surfboards. Because this means that we are slowly raising the profile of sustainability in the mainstream arena.
It’s certainly far from becoming a swell, but I’m optimistic that it will get there. And when it comes, we’ll all surf the green wave into a better and sustainable future for the next generation.
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