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University of Washington Students Eat With Compost!

When people live somewhere as naturally beautiful as the Pacific Northwest, I imagine they stop at no limits to help keep their environment clean and green. The University of Washington has banished all things plastic from its dining hall, opting for serving products that can be tossed directly into a compost pile.

The cups, containers, plates, and utensils are made of corn, reed work, and sugar cane. Sweet! The "silverware" wasn't so hot at first. Not only did it break down in the soil, it broke down in warm dishes like soup, too. But a year and a half after it began the creative-green initiative, the campus found a product that gets the job done.

Seattle should thank the University of Washington for the trial-and-error success because starting Jan. 1, all food establishments in the city will have to stop using foam, and by July 2010 all plastic must be substituted with recyclable or compostable containers. Sounds like hometown-company Starbucks has to rethink its lids!


ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i love that there's a school that's on the forfront of the efforts to be more ecologicially aware. it's impressive that they are going to these lengths to find alternatives and that in fact they are being successful. knowing that we are increasing the amount of waste in the country and world at extreme rates - this is just one way to find a new outlet to avoid adding to the problem, and contribute to a solution.
outofhere outofhere 9 years
This is AWESOME! Kudos to UW for doing this!
candicestrudel candicestrudel 9 years
you can recycle the starbuck's lid so it is OK
Meike Meike 9 years
Go U-dub!! ^_^ Love the Seattle area.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
It's great that they took the initiative to do this. In general though I think businesses should be allowed to make their own decisions and people can vote with their feet if they don't like them.
verily verily 9 years
My workplace had the corn-based silverware briefly. It's what pushed me to bring my own silverware. It's great in cold stuff, but there is still a discernible taste when you use them with hot foods.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 9 years
This makes me even more proud to be from Seattle and a two-time graduate of UW (undergrad and MD)! It's such a great place.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
:rotfl: bluesarahlou!!!
TinkerbellSF TinkerbellSF 9 years
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
But then you run the risk of cops thinking you're carrying a concealed weapon. "I swear officer, I'm just doing my part to save the environment!!!"
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
This tree hugger is very proud to be an alum of the UW!!
Megatron Megatron 9 years
The silverware at my school is made out of potatoes. They totally look like plastic, though. It's pretty cool.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Yes, but an old-fashioned steak knife can also be used for self-defense in case of attack, so there's a plus to carrying silverware around :)
amybdk amybdk 9 years
just kidding. the thought of cutlery jingling in my bag isn't very exciting to me.
amybdk amybdk 9 years
Jude... of course! I can always count on you. :D Stephley.... but old fashioned reusables can double as mirrors!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
amy, Jude has a point about the water use and also, many people get their food to go from Food Services at the UW (I work here). While some people go to dining halls on campus, much of the food is taken as "take out" (at least in my experience), so thus the huge need for disposable dishes and utensils.
stephley stephley 9 years
I keep old fashioned reusables at work but wouldn't want to carry them around in my purse.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
amy, I'd imagine one thing about old-school, real silverware is that the water it takes to wash them would not be needed with disposable utensils? Martini, thanks for the information! That clears up a lot of issues for me, and if Costco does carry them, that will of course help a lot with pricing and availability for smaller businesses. Oh, and how cool that the students started a garden with the compost!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Hey, Jude! This was my "tip" story so I can give you a bit of those details... ;-) "Spending on disposable ware is down 9 percent, and the university has saved more money by sending food scraps and compostable trash to a private composting facility instead of a landfill. Some students even started a campus garden using the compost." (this is from the write up in the Seattle Times) I think where the UW gets a cheaper cost is that they are huge and can negotiate a "bulk" buying price with companies that supply this. There is also a rumor circulating that Costco Business is going to start carrying these products, so that should help many small business owners get better deals. Also, there is some feeling in the business community that as demand increases, supply will get larger and prices for smaller orders will come down. Of course, if they do end up paying more, that cost will be passed on to us, the consumer.... :-(
amybdk amybdk 9 years
What about good old school cutlery and dishes.... the kind you can use over and over and over and over again? I like this idea better than plastic, but find it still quite wasteful.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
"but once there's a proven demand for them, the price could go down as more companies will offer them." Absolutely. It is definitely great to hear of an organization like that university willing to be a pioneer of this kind of thing.
stephley stephley 9 years
The compostable ones cost more last year when I checked for my daughter's school... but once there's a proven demand for them, the price could go down as more companies will offer them. I found them online easily enough.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Well, I'd be extremely annoyed if I was a restaurant or cafe owner who needed to save money using cheaper (if less environmentally friendly) disposables, and had to shell out more and expend more effort attaining these new ones, but you can't deny it's good for the environment. What are the price differences between your regular old disposables and these compostable ones? How easy are they to find?
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
A lot of restaurants and other take out places in my area have started to use compostable silverware in lieu of plastic silverware, which is really a great move. I also saw the cups made of corn (and they looked JUST like plastic cups btw) at a wine festival last weekend.
janneth janneth 9 years
-Hey waitress, what's this in my soup? -Your spoon. Seriously, what a great idea. Now what about edible silverware; it's dessert!
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