Composting China next big eco-friendly trend?

The future of green cuisine is planting your plates. That’s the vision of eco-entrepreneur Alex Casewa, who believes composting china is the next big trend.

The 25-year-old Victoria resident is the creator of Earthen eco-friendly dinnerware, made from dried palm leaves from India’s areca or betel nut tree. Each plate, bowl and tray has a unique patina, but they’re cheap and meant to be chucked.

Just not into landfills. They’re designed to be mulched in back-yard gardens and have met with the Victoria Compost Education Centre’s seal of approval. No chemicals are used, so leaves compost naturally and add to soil quality.

“You don’t have to send it for recycling, it’s compostable, it’s natural. Plastic is made from petroleum, which is non-renewable; we’re really using a renewable resource,” Casewa said yesterday.

His business model is also a model of international development: He turns waste from betel-nut cash crops into income for farmers and employs 70 villagers making plates.

The New Delhi native moved to Canada in 2004 to pursue a business degree from Vancouver Island University. The Earthen plates were a sustainable development thesis project. He launched the products six months ago. They’re now available in a dozen Victoria stores.

Casewa is among dozens of exhibitors showcasing new ideas at the Grocery Showcase West in Vancouver, where green is high on the grocery list.

Other innovative cookware coming to a table near you: Richmond’s FST Packaging’s biodegradable bamboo containers and U.S. company Solo’s line of plates and cups made from sugarcane stalks.

In previous recessions, consumers tended to abandon pricey eco-products, said Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers president John Scott. But as green products have become more integral to our lifestyles and environmental education has increased, they are seen as less of a luxury.

“Despite the downturn in the economy, the consumer is still embracing health and wellness. In previous recessions, it was, ‘Well, eco-friendly is nice, but we’re going to go in another direction.’
Now, they understand the environment and want to do their part.” Scott said grocers are doing better than other sectors because “people are moving away from restaurants and learning to cook again.” The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers’ 20th Annual Grocery Showcase West ends today at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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