It is no secret that I LOVE Trader Joe’s. Love it. One of my favorite things about the store is tucked way in the back along the left wall: the sample counter. Yesterday, they were sampling Checkerboard Mousse Cake ($6.99.). Are you freakin’ kidding me? So sweet and smushy and yummy. I couldn’t buy it. I will, but not until the day before I will be toting it to my in-laws’ house so I don’t eat it all in one sitting. The other sample was Sweet Potato Pie Bites — layers of fillo dough filled with sweet potato purée, brown sugar, butter, and a candied pecan. Sounded amazing, but I had to skip it since it contains nuts. Last Wednesday they were giving out samples of Fully Cooked Half of a Roasted Turkey as well as pre-made mashed potatoes. I took some of both (and yes, both were good), but I felt SUPER guilty about it. You see, in addition to two little paper cups, I also got two plastic spoons.
It took me less than five seconds to devour those goodies, but those plastic forks will remain forever in our waste stream. Yes, forever, because they are made from traditional petroleum-based plastic, which hurts the environment during manufacturing (petroleum by-products sort of suck — benzene, xylenes, etc.) and during disposal because it’s not like anyone is recycling all those plastic spoons and forks. For example, I know my own town’s recycling program won’t take plastic forks and spoons. In fact, according to the Clean Air Council, enough paper and plastic utensils are thrown away every year to circle the equator 300 times. From a recent press release I got:
“It is estimated that close to 40 billion individual plastic utensils—meaning between 14 and 18 billion plastic spoons—are produced each year… [and] most of them end up in our landfills, beaches and oceans, where they are likely to remain for hundreds of thousands of years.”
Uggg. In the past, I’ve turned down the forks, sticking with the squeeze and suck method to get the food out of the little cups. And it does work for the most part, but I always figured there had to be a better way. This morning I got a press release from a company called EcoTensil, which sells, something that fits that bill: Paperboard spoons that are recyclable and compostable.
Sounds like a great idea, right? The company is making some decent inroads. I was very impressed that Stonyfield Farms is using EcoTensil’s EcoTaster spoons for its event samplings. Recently, Stonyfield used about 60,000 EcoTasters at the U.S. Open! With that kind of backing and visibility I am hoping that smart, eco-friendly companies like Trader Joe’s get the hint and get rid of stupid plastic spoons. (And no, I have nothing to do with EcoTensils or Stonyfield OR Trader Joe’s. I just like this idea.) Until then, I’ll be sticking with the squeeze and suck route. How about you?
I recently discovered PopCorners, an amazingly good snack food made with air-popped popcorn. Flavors include butter, sea salt, kettle, and jalapeno. I’ve got some samples to give out to ten readers who post below. I’ll be choosing winners randomly and “popping” them in the mail by Friday, December 3. Want to be one of the lucky ones? Tell me why you need a new snack fix.