And, in case you haven’t been reading (welcome, BTW), let me catch you up to speed. Whether it be the packaging on your latest Amazon order, the cup and straw for your daily iced coffee, or attempting to save the last of your stash of Peeps from Easter in plastic wrap, we tend to use a lot of plastic in our everyday lives. I’m kidding about the Peeps, BTW. Clearly, I have already eaten my Easter stash. But on a separate note, have you seen they come in Party Cake flavor now? Just sayin’.
Sorry, back to the topic at hand. The fact that we are so heavily reliant on plastic is one of the problems — some estimates put plastic use at nearly 300 million tons each year. And according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year, with only 8% of it getting recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, becomes litter or is burned. And the plastic that doesn’t get recycled? Well it also never goes away. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that tends to clog our oceans and waterways and kills marine life that either ingests it or gets entangled in it.
Plastic bottles, specifically, are a huge contributor to this problem. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that we use 1,500 plastic water bottles every second. Every second. I mean, that’s more Party Cake Peeps that I can eat in a year. And, unfortunately, they don’t always get recycled. For every six plastic bottles bought, only one is recycled — which means that five are thrown away ending up in landfills or the oceans.
Another issue with plastic bottles is the amount of pollution it causes during the manufacturing process. Plastic bottles from a petroleum product know as polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. They also require large amounts of fossil fuels to make and transport. According to National Geographic, if you were to fill a water bottle a quarter of the way up with oil, that would be how much oil was needed to produce said bottle. Pretty appealing, if you ask me.
And not only are plastic bottles a problem for ol’ mother earth, they can also be problematic for all the other mamas out there. And papas, and children, and babies, and other adults for that matter. Plastic bottles contain Bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA. BPA is an endocrine disruptor and has been proven to be hazardous to human health — it has been linked to neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labor and defects in newborn babies, among other things.
Bottled drinks also contain phthalates, which are also endocrine disruptors. They have been linked to a range of developmental and reproductive effects like reduced sperm count, gender development issues and testicular abnormality and tumors.
And, last but not least, there is growing concern regarding carcinogens and microbial contaminants that have been found in test samples of bottled water.
All that said, bottled water is sometimes a necessary evil. I, for one, admittedly have bottled water in my earthquake preparedness kit. It’s also sometimes the only option for people whose water has been contaminated or is undrinkable.
Not to worry, help is on the way. Ooho! is coming! Ooho! is an edible water bottle made from seaweed. The spherical packaging is entirely natural and biodegradable. The flexible packets of water can be drunk by tearing a whole and pouring it into your mouth. But if you really want to show off, you can just eat it. Seriously. It’s edible.
Ooho! sachets is the first product from Skipping Rocks Lab, whose goal is to create a waste-free alternative to plastic bottles and cups and make packaging waste disappear. At just two cents to produce, their material is actually cheaper than plastic (which is one of the big reasons so many companies switched from glass to plastic in the first place), and can encapsulate any beverage or liquid. Meaning it could be a feasible alternative for companies in the near future.
According to Fast Company, the blob-like container holds water using a technique called “sperification,” from the molecular gastronomy world. A compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride creates a gel around the water. You can find more details at Fast Company, but in short, it basically works like an egg yolk.
Currently selling directly to consumers (that’s you) to gain traction, the company has been selling at pop ups and other events like marathons and music festivals. Plans for their first commercial lease in the works before they start selling directly to businesses.