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The Gap Year Blog

Zero Waste Inventions You Can Eat

20 Feb 2018 15:05 PM
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Imagine a party without any waste and after cleaning. Imagine your guests getting rid of all the dirty dishes simply by eating them. Edible packaging is a thing now. The inventors’ goal is to create alternatives to plastic that have the same life span as the foods they contain. There is already a variety of products from fancy edible cups and straws to six pack rings.

In his book, “Cradle to Cradle. Remaking the Way We Make Things”, William McBurroughs elaborates the idea that human production should work as a cherry tree. Cherry tree pits on the ground are basically waste, however, no one thinks that cherry tree destroys the environment. The wasted pits return nutrients back to the soil and that’s what the waste from our production should do as well. If we used merely biodegradable packaging including plant seeds, people would be encouraged to litter in nature.

The list of edible alternatives below builds on this idea. Unfortunately, there are still many obstacles to spread these innovations. One of the main problems is usually their price, mostly because they’re made in a small scale. The inventors say that once big companies show their interest and start producing the edible alternatives, their price could be even lower than the current cost of plastic products.


Wikimedia Commons | MichaelisScientists

Drink and eat

While we empty the bottle of water within few hours, the package itself stays on the planet for hundreds years. Even recycling doesn’t seem to be the ideal solution since it uses lots of energy. And think about what the plastic bottles are made of! Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez from Skipping Rocks Lab weren’t satisfied with these facts. Inspired by fake caviar recipes, they’ve created a water container that you can eat right after drinking or leave it to biodegrade. No unnecessary energy needed.

The miraculous packaging called Ooho is made of seaweeds and it’s entirely natural. It has no taste, however, the creators claim that various flavors can be added. Also, it doesn’t need to contain only water but also lemonades, spirits or even cosmetics. The idea impressed the public, which helped Ooho to raise £850,000 in only 72 hours through Crowdcube. Unfortunately, it’s not yet widely spread in stores but the inventors plan to provide Ooho at marathons and festivals this year. Imagine a concert with no plastic waste on the ground! Moreover, the authors don’t want to keep their invention as a trade secret so if you want to make your own edible water container, follow this link for a YouTube video recipe.

Pixabay | silviarita

Ooho proves that going zero waste isn’t just for ascetics. Non-plastic inventions can be fancy as well. A great example provides the company Loliware, which similarly to Ooho uses algae as a main ingredient for their colourful edible party cups. Besides seaweed, it also contains organic sweeteners, flavors and colours derived from fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t end with cups. A straw is a typical piece of plastic that still reigns the restaurants despite its uselessness. Thanks to Loliware, there could be no more straws found in animals’ stomachs, only in ours. Even if you’re not interested in the topic of plastic pollution, the edible alternative is a great invention for all of those with the bad habit of biting the straws.

No need to clean a fork again

Still hungry after finishing your lunch? Let’s eat the cutlery! Bakeys’ forks and spoons, made of rice, wheat, and sorghum, will probably meet your dietary requirements since they’re also dairy-free, organic, non-gmo, fair trade and suitable for vegans. They’re not completely gluten-free, though, but the inventors are currently working on this last obstacle. The reduction of plastic pollution is not the only environmental goal of this India-based company. Using the mixture of three different crops, the inventors want to increase a biodiversity and motivate Indian farmers to move away from rice. As the founder Narayana Peesapathy says, now the cutlery is tasty, fun, nutritious and environmental-friendly!

Pixabay | mandarinMD

How do you want your ice cream?

Not all the inventions must be new. Ice cream cones, for instance, are known for two hundred years. Ignoring the dismal amount of waste, an increasing number of restaurants offer their ice cream to go in paper or plastic cups. This is the opposite of a win-win solution because while we’re creating more waste, our taste buds get less of the sugary pleasure. Shouldn’t the traditional cone become fashionable again? Don’t forget to ask for it when you’ll be ordering your ice cream next time.

Hold my beer

This might look like an unnecessary thing, however, six pack rings are very dangerous for the ocean species. Small Saltwater Brewery decided to make them edible for people and sea animals as well. So when the biodegradable six pack ring ends up in the ocean, it could be even beneficial for the marine life. Moreover, the way to create the edible rings is pretty elegant since it’s made of barley and wheat ribbons from the brewing process.


Wikimedia Commons | Belgueblimohammed2013

Once you go zero waste, you could find these inventions quite useless. Isn’t it easier to fill your simple bottle with tap water instead of making algae bubbles? And more importantly, do we really need six pack rings? Can’t we just put the beer cans in a bag or go to a pub and have a pint served in a beautiful glass? On the one hand, creating edible alternatives still consume some resources which could be used better. On the other hand, it will take a long time for fast food restaurants and other companies to go zero waste and with the threat of more plastic than fish in oceans, these biodegradable alternatives are necessary and on point.

By Eliška Olšáková - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!