humans · Sustainability

Revolutionizing Disposable Utensils

Finding new ways to reduce waste is something that always excites me, and when I found this online, I was the most excited I had been all week. Imagine that the next time you have lunch, you add a new side dish: spoon (or spork or chopsticks). Yes, that’s right, you can eat your utensils once you’re done with them.

Plastic utensils are one of those things that I seriously do not believe in and refuse to contribute to. Conventional plastics made from oil are not biodegradable, taking hundreds of years to decompose, meaning that once they get to the landfill or to the ocean, they stay there for a very very long time. There is an enormous problem with massive amounts of plastic in landfills and ending up in the oceans. Plastic in the ocean is extremely harmful to marine life as well as birds, as they can ingest it and get tangled up in it. This can hinder their growth and even lead to death. There are currently 5 trillion pieces of plastic in ocean and studies predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Hopefully now you can understand my reasons for boycotting plastic utensils.

Luckily, these edible utensils, Bakeys, are not only not made of plastic, they will also never end up in a landfill. Bakeys are made of a mix of millet, rice and wheat flours then baked until they are hard and dry. They’re hard enough so that they will not dissolve in hot soup or tea, but soft enough to bite into. There are even different flavors available including sugar, ginger-garlic and carrot-beetroot. And if you don’t feel like eating your spoon, it will just decompose within days after use. The utensils have a shelf life of about three years, so they will most likely not rot before you get a chance to use them.

Edible Bakeys Spoons!

Right now, Bakeys are still more expensive than conventional plastic utensils, but the creator, Groundwater researcher Narayana Peesapaty, believes that he can bring the price down to match that of plastic utensils as volume of production increases.

Plastics are very integrated in the economy and society and are in basically everything we use. It would be very hard, maybe even impossible to ban all plastic without undergoing massive lifestyle and infrastructural changes. This is why any alternative available to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills and in the ocean should be considered.

There currently are not many viable plastic alternatives. Biodegradable plant-based plastics do not use oil/fossil fuels and are biodegradable (non-toxic). They have a shorter breakdown time and can even be cheaper than conventional plastic depending on oil prices. However, these plastics break own in landfills and release greenhouse gases. In addition to this, we are using food (basically corn oil and starch) for plastic when there are people starving in the world.

The creation of Bakeys is actually a huge stride in creating a world that is less dependent on plastics and fossil fuels. As technology advances, more and more alternatives to plastic will be discovered and become more and more economically viable. Starting small and thinking big is key.

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