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Rethinking the Way We Eat: Disposable, Edible Spoons

EmmamHowe MA, United States 0 Ratings 33 Discussions 1 Group posts

Posted by: EmmamHowe // Marketing/Green Policy Development

As a society on the go, we’re constantly running from one event to the next, and it often happens that we’re out and about during peak meal or snack times. So we’ll either bring food with us to an event or afternoon out or we’ll stop to grab a quick bite on the go. Now that these habits have become part of our daily routine, it’s important for us to realize the environmental impact of our actions. Though we may think carefully about what we eat, we often don’t give a second thought about HOW we’re eating our food, i.e. about the plastic utensils we reach for when we’re purchasing that salad, soup, etc.

Every day, hundreds of millions of people chuck their plastic spoons and forks in the garbage. This is dangerous not only because these plastic tools are often not recycled or even recyclable, but because these plastics often contain traces of neurotoxic and carcinogenic chemicals. These chemicals can leach into our food, in fact, our food cutlery standards even allow levels permissible up to 60 Parts Per Million (PPM). Thus, if these plastic utensils are both bath for the environment as well as bad for our health, what are our other options?

One company has a solution: Edible cutlery.

Narayana Peesapaty founded the company “Bakey’s” in 2010 with the revolutionary idea to combat the use of plastic utensils by creating edible cutlery. While on his own morning bus commute, Peesapaty had an epiphany "what if we could actually eat the cutlery, instead of throwing them away?" Six years later, his company “Bakey’s” is becoming an internationally known startup, selling edible spoons that taste just like crackers, made out of dried millet, rice and wheat.

According to the Bakeys website, the cutlery is completely vegan, has no coatings on it, and will naturally decompose "anywhere between 3 to 7 days”---that is if insects, dogs, birds do not eat them. Peesapaty has even come up with a solution for those who are gluten intolerant, substituting the wheat in the spoons with barley and corn. The spoons have a shelf life of three years, and the ingredients are all sourced from local farmers. And because they're baked at high heat and contain very little moisture, it takes about 10 minutes of soaking before the spoons start to dissolve in yogurt or soup.

Though edible and biodegradable cutlery is great alternative to non biodegradable plastic, the utensils do come with their own set of ecological risks. Ben Kneppers, a sustainability consultant and co-founder of the plastic waste social enterprise Bureo, warns about the impact of the cutlery’s high nutrient content on sensitive ecosystems, stressing the importance of safely disposing of the edible cutlery, in fact, he believes it’s better just to eat them. But that shouldn’t be a problem as the utensils come in three delicious flavors — plain, sweet and savory.

There's also a cost challenge as a set of 100 edible spoons costs about $4. This means Bakey’s utensils are currently more expensive than plastic cutlery, but Peesapaty believes that as the company gets more international attention, the demand for the products will rise, driving the cost of the products down. For now, the spoons are only available for purchase online and Bakey's only ships to customers within India. They are currently working to increase output, and Peesapaty is developing more products — forks, chopsticks, and salad bowls. Peesapaty is hoping that by early 2017, the company will start selling internationally.

You can check out Bakey’s website for more information on their innovtaive products and intitiative: http://www.bakeys.com/about-us/

You can also watch Peesapaty speak about the issue in his TedTalk:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi8hrtIYBTI

For further information see:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/06/23/483254639/this-startup-wants-you-to-have-your-disposable-spoon-and-eat-it-too
http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/move-over-disposable-utensils-because-bakeys-edible-cutlery-here.html

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