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Green Goods: Verterra dinnerware

By Barbara Kessler Green Right Now You’ve got party plans. And your regular dinnerware just won’t accommodate the crowd. What’s the green solution? There are several options on the market,...

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

You’ve got party plans. And your regular dinnerware just won’t accommodate the crowd. What’s the green solution?

There are several options on the market, including recycled plastic plates and pressed paper plates that will biodegrade (shout out to Chinet; who knew?). But there’s only one product we’ve seen that covers the green spectrum like moss on rocks: Verterra disposable dinnerware.

These ingenious plates, bowls and trays are not just biodegradable, they turn into compost in two months. They’re made from an all natural product, fallen palm leaves, and therefore claim no trees. They’re chemical-free and use no petroleum-derived waxes or epoxies, either as a component or in their production; they are not bleached or dyed, like so many paper products and their manufacture employs people in Southeast Asia, paying a fair wage (according to the company). And, they’re lightweight to ship. And, they look lovely on the table.

They’re so green, the only thing about them that’s not green is their color. They’re beige. But that’s OK too. They mimic bamboo or wood, lending a look of sophistication that you just can’t achieve with your typical grocery store or even party store paper plates.

Like other products that really hit the green mark, Verterra plates and bowls are a reincarnation of a time-tested practice. While on an internship in India, Verterra CEO and founder Michael Dwork discovered a rural woman pressing palm leaves into a crude waffle-type iron, then pulling out the stiffened leaves to serve food on them. Already an environmentalist, he latched onto the idea and worked over time to perfect designs and a process to make it marketable.

We did our own test with a couple samples of Verterra to see if the stuff, which is billed as microwave safe,  would hold up under stress. Sure, it was great with chips, cold veggies and breads. But could it withstand a couple steaming helpings of chili, without wilting on our coffee table or springing a leak?  And what would happen if a visitor abandoned a full bowl for a few hours.? We wanted to really test the mettle of this leafy invention.

As you can see from the picture of our bowl of chili, about two hours into the project, Verterra was holding up. This bowl survived a thorough rinsing, but we wouldn’t consider it safe to reuse because of potential food residue. The plates we used for crackers and chips, however, seem sanitary enough for reuse after a quick rinse. (The Verterra website defines their product as intended for single use.)

So we dig this stuff. We like its scavenger history, its hip demeanor and the price is not a deal breaker, at 50 cents to around dollar per piece. We’re wondering where it will pop up in retail outlets, but for now you can order on the Verterra website, where you can also check out other reviews.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media


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