The UW Green Blog


Corn Cutlery Controversy
October 17, 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: HFS

In typical Seattle fashion, rain began to pour during class Tuesday while I had been enjoying sunshine only minutes earlier. I had two hours until my next class and was picturing my umbrella lying tragically on the floor of my bedroom, unable to shield me from the evil droplets and preserve my good hair day.

My only choice was to dash to the nearest dining hall to keep dry, pass the time and eat something warm to counteract the drizzly weather.

My plateful of pasta was not as hot as I would have liked, but I learned later in the day that this might have been a good thing. Otherwise, my corn-based fork may have melted in my yummy alfredo.

New utensils made from corn have recently replaced plastic utensils in the campus dining halls, according to HFS (Housing and Food Services). The biodegradable corn-based cutlery can be tossed into a dining hall’s compost bin rather than be condemned to clog up a landfill like plastic utensils.

However, some complaints about the eco-friendly wares have surfaced. The Daily recently reported that students have experienced the cutlery melting when it comes in contact with hot food.

The Daily article ruffled the feathers of some members of SEED (Students Expressing Environmental Dedication), who in a meeting Tuesday discussed a letter they wrote to the editor concerning the new cutlery.

The letter asked The Daily to consider that although the corn-based utensils may not be perfect, they are a much better alternative to wasteful plastic cutlery and metal cutlery that students may accidentally throw away.

The biodegradable cornware “is a very, very progressive thing,” said McMahon Hall Resident Director Darcy Hume at the SEED meeting. “Of course there are going to be kinks in the system.”

Hume said HFS is working toward the satisfaction of residents, but other alternatives being considered may also raise concerns.

One of those alternatives, compostable wooden cutlery, would probably lead to complaints about splinters, said Hume.

It will be interesting to see what happy medium HFS can reach to please both hot-food-loving and eco-conscious students alike.

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