Originally published May 25 2010
Verterra Dinnerware, the completely sustainable alternative to disposable dishes
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Picnics, camping trips, hikes and nights when you really do not feel like doing any dishes; these are some of the many reasons why we buy disposable dishes. At best, we might use paper plates, and at worst, a plastic or styrofoam variety. The options vary in negative environmental impact, but there is one company that has not only raised the bar in disposable dinnerware, but revolutionized it.
Michael Dwork, founder of Verterra, first came up with his dinnerware idea during a visit to India where he saw a native woman soaking leaves in water and pressing them in a makeshift waffle iron. When they came out, she served a meal on them, which inspired Dwork to utilize the same concept for disposable dish ware.
Verterra's line of dinnerware is composed entirely of fallen leaves from India that have been steamed, heated and pressurized. The dinnerware is durable, safe and completely natural, containing absolutely no plastics, glues, lacquers or any other kind of adhesive that would potentially leech into food. The ware is lightweight but sturdy, and has a classic, natural look that adds style to any dinner engagement.
Though the company is not legally allowed to recommend it, Verterra Dinnerware can actually be reused upwards of ten times depending on the foods for which it is used. But even if you use it only once, it is a great product that Dwork believes actually provides a net benefit for the environment.
When compared to all the other eco-friendly disposable options available, Verterra's line tops them all. According to company tests, all Verterra products will completely biodegrade in two months when placed in a landfill or compost bin. Which brings up another unique aspect of the products; they can be composted and will actually provide benefit to soil.
In India, there is a plethora of fallen palm leaves that typically get burned in large piles by the side of the road. Dwork actually saves these leaves and uses them to produce Verterra products, which when all is said and done, likely has a negative carbon impact on the environment.
Because he could not find a suitable leaf variety to use in the U.S., Dwork produces the plates in India where the type of palm leaves he uses are plentiful. Verterra owns and operates its own factory in India where its workers are treated and paid fairly. The conditions are safe and the company provides its workers with access to medical care.
While all this sounds great, some people may be wondering if Verterra products actually work. Truthfully, the ware is durable and long-lasting. It has held up just fine after several washes and does not seem to absorb the food that touches it. Certain sauces and liquids may stain it, however it can still be used multiple times if you want to get the most use out of it.
Because it can warp in the dishwasher, hand-washing is the best method to employ if you wish to reuse Verterra products. Amazingly, Verterra can be heated in the oven and will hold up well in the refrigerator. It is also microwave safe (however I would not recommend using microwaves in general).
Though somewhat pricy, Verterra is versatile and will work in many different applications. If you plan to reuse it, it may actually end up being cheaper than the paper or plastic ware available at the grocery store.
For more information about Verterra Dinnerware, please visit www.verterra.com.
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