Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Can you really eat these plates? Bare-ly

Solo has a new line of disposable plates and cups, called Bare, that are compostable. There's a caveat about that, which I'll get to in a sec. But first let me say that the fun thing about Bare products is that they're made, in part, from sugar cane.

Can you really eat these plates? Bare-ly

In the name of cutting-edge eco-inqury. Yong Kim / Staff Photographer
In the name of cutting-edge eco-inqury. Yong Kim / Staff Photographer

So you’ve invited the neighborhood to your annual Labor Day barbecue this weekend. And you’re thinking about the 10,000 plastic plates and cups your guests will use during the char-broiled feast you plan to serve up.

And you’re thinking: “One minute through the lips, a lifetime in a landfill.”

And you’re thinking: There has to be a more environmentally kind way to feed your backyard revelers.

The people at the Solo Cup Company are thinking they have the answer. I’m not sure it’s the best one, but it’s a start.

Solo has a new line of disposable plates and cups, called Bare, that are compostable. There’s a caveat about that, which I’ll get to in a sec. But first let me say that the fun thing about Bare products is that they’re made, in part, from sugar cane. More specifically, they contain bagasse, the fibrous remains of sugar cane once all its juice has been extracted.

Which made me wonder: Could I eat Bare by Solo?

“The products meet the FDA standards for food contact, but they are not meant or recommended for human consumption,” explained Solo spokesman Tim Lindberg, who scored big points in my book by not laughing at the question.

Just to be sure, I took a bite of a Bare plate. Let’s just say: Ain’t enough barbecue sauce in the world would’ve made it tasty.

Anyway, the Bare products are guaranteed to be compostable – if they’re disposed of in a commercial-composting facility, where Lindberg says the plates and cups will degrade within 180 days.

It’s not that the stuff won’t degrade in some home compost piles, but the break-down isn’t guaranteed, said Lindberg, since personal compost piles obviously differ from household to household depending on myriad factors that Solo has no way to predict.

Fair enough.

So where’s the closest commercial compost facilities? I went to www.findacompster.com to find out.

Turns out the nearest place to the Daily News  is over ten miles away, in Royersford.

Which, if you’re an environmentally concerned party host, leaves you with a ridiculous question: Is it stupid to drive over 10 miles to throw away a cup?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

Like I said, Bare by Solo isn’t the perfect answer to the problem of disposing of party waste, but it’s an admirable start.

Just don’t eat the stuff.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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