Going Green
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The firm where I work has gone green. Some new policies have been implemented: all the copy machines are programmed to make double-sided copies; thereís no more bottled water in the cafeteria; and the plastic flatware has been replaced.

Now, Iím okay with this for the most part. Double-sided copies make sense. I can even see the no-more-bottled water thing; Iím willing to wait in line to use the garden hose on the back plaza, so long as no one puts their mouth on the nozzle.

Itís this new flatware I canít get past. Itís made out of potato. Yeah, potato. Have you heard of it? Itís called SpudWare. SpudWare is made from 80% potato starch and 20% soy oil. It smells like French fries. Itís supposed to be as strong and heat-resistant as the old plastic stuff, but one of my co-workers said she was stirring her coffee with a SpudWare spoon and the spoon started to melt. I donít know about you, but this does nothing for my appetite. And I definitely do not want potato sludge in my coffee cup.

The good news is SpudWare takes about six months to biodegrade. The bad news is that very few cities provide high-temperature composting which is necessary to break this stuff down. So for the most part, these items end up in city landfills where they donít get enough oxygen to break down. But, hey, you donít have to throw it out. You can wash it and reuse it untilówell, until it melts, I guess. I donít really know what happens to potato starch if you keep washing it. I imagine itís not good for the dishwasher.

We still have Styrofoam and cardboard dishes and cups, but I imagine the firm is working on replacing these. I hope they know they have a lot of options. Thereís Natureworks, which makes items from corn starch, and Bagasse, products made from sugar cane fiber after the liquid has been crushed out of it. Itís supposed to be better than Styrofoam in that you can microwave it and heat it in the oven. I just hope it doesnít turn into cotton candy.

These new starch-based items are known as bio-plastics. Even though this new environmentally-friendly dinnerware is twice as costly as the old stuff, retailers such as restaurants say itís great because it cuts down on garbage. Well, of course it does. Itís made from garbage. Weíre making dinnerware from the compost heap. And weíre eating with it.

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