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Reinventing Disposable Tableware


The fate of single use tableware, paper plates and cups, is predictable. They go in the garbage, sometimes if we’re lucky, they’re recycled or composted. Despite recycling, it’s always seemed like a waste of paper to me, and they always have a casual feel about them. They lack style.

But what if we replaced the traditional paper plate, made from wood pulp, with something made from more eco-friendly materials. If you use rapidly growing bamboo and reeds, along with bagasse—waste left over after extracting juice from sugar cane, and normally burnt—you’d get something that looks a little different. Especially if you give the whole idea a little thought.

The making of things, even simple things like paper plates, can be transformed with thought. If you give aesthetic value to an object, the object itself will become more valuable and some thought is going to be given to how, why and when it’s used. That can only be a good thing.



Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan