Cradle-to-Cradle Design: Top 5 Fashionable and Biodegradable Products

Posted on 24. May, 2011 by in Design & Culture, Products

There is a certain relieving quality connected to throwing away an item that has no more apparent or practical value. In the never-ending household battle against clutter, “down-cycling” is commonplace and often seen as a do-good practice. It seems that good has become the enemy of great!

Along with changing the way consumers view and use products, items with short usable lives must be redesigned to either last longer or be transformed into a cradle-to-cradle life cycle where waste = food. For those items that ride the ever-changing waves of fashion and technology, switching to biodegradable materials can greatly curb the colossal impact of commercial and artistic innovation.

We have studied the design world in search of the most stylish biodegradable products that have turned planned-obsolescence into compostable chic.  The following are five of the best items we found, in random order:

One Moment Shoes

Look out TOMS and Crocs! Figtree Factory Studios of Spain has developed a modern unisex slipper that is 100% biodegradable, modern, and cheaper than cheap. At five euros (roughly $8 USD), One Moment (1M) shoes put eco-conscious fashion within everyone’s reach. Rolled up and packaged in small 100% biodegradable containers, 1M shoes are shipped with a low-impact and can be sold in a variety of unconventional settings. Imagine all of the places you might see a 1M vending machine.

1M shoes are currently offered to the US market solely through the 1M e-store

VerTerra Dinnerware

The epitome of minimalism, VerTerra dinnerware is made from fallen palm leaves and water — nothing else. VerTerra bowls and plates are a perfect substitute for single-use paper and styrofoam products. Pressed together with high pressure machinery, VerTerra products are durable and can be used a few times before entering the compost bin.

VerTerra products are great for parties, BBQs, eco-weddings and corporate events.  In fact, VerTerra plates are often used at Opportunity Green events, and the company was a finalist in the OG25 Innovation Awards competition in 2009! These innovative products are available online or at many Earth-conscious stores such as Whole Foods Market.

One Cup by Repurpose

Welcome to a new world! A world where the daily “venti, half-caf, carmel macchiato, upside-down” and other more modest varietals, does not produce a domestic mess of 400 million non-compostable cups.

“At Repurpose we are always working to produce the highest performing, highest quality food service products that also help consumers lower their impact on the environment,” said Lauren Gropper, Chief Executive Officer of Repurpose Compostables.

Repurpose® Compostables has created a thermal insulated cup that can tolerate scalding temperatures and will biodegrade in as little as 90 days. Made from a combination of Ingeo™ resin and FSC-Certified paper, the One Cup is free from petroleum dependence, deforestation, landfill packing and double cupping.

Green Box

Inspired by a college student’s resourcefulness nearly 20 years ago of ripping off a piece of a pizza box to use as a plate, the GreenBox serves as the delivery container, plates and leftover storage for eco-friendly pizza splurges. The Green Box is made from 100% recycled materials and complies with FDA regulations for food-grade compost.

William Walsh, Founder of GreenBox notes, “It’s only a pizza box, but there are 2.3 billion pizza boxes manufactured in this country each year.”

Also an OG 25 Innovation Awards finalist, GreenBox has been embraced by several small NY shops, and Walsh is optimistic about securing a contract with a nationwide chain.

Pangea Organics

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. As such, what we put on it has a strong correlation with our overall health and wellness. Pangea Organics body care products understands this and has produced fragrant natural soaps and oils free from petroleum, sulfates, detergents, synthetic preservatives, artificial colors or synthetic fragrances, GMOs and any other ingredients which warrant long scientific words.

Being “au natural”, Pangea Organics are biodegradable and made from 100% organic and naturally derived ingredients. Pangea designed a second life into their product packaging with plantable outer cartons and UVB protecting glass on top.


With many innovative design ideas in the works, we have added a “wish list” of top three items we would like to see brought from design to delivery:

Econut iPad Case

With the perfect blend of old- and new-school technology, the Econut is a durable, sexy case for the iPad made from coconuts. Although simple in appearance, the Econut case utilizes state-of-the art technology to link a slim keyboard to the Apple tablet via bluetooth.

This item is still in conceptual stage; however, when it releases, you can be sure that the iPad-faithful will go “nuts” for it.

PLA “Renew Can”

Rivaling plastic bags for the most wasteful and senseless device, single-use containers place an extremely large burden on the environment. Although it may look like a typical can, the “Renew Can”, designed by the Taiwan-based firm haoshi Design, is not only 100% compostable, but its durability, thermal insulation and convenient screw-top make it a great reusable item.

The item is currently sold through haoshi Design studio and has not yet moved into scaled production.

Natural Year Phone

Fine, so a phone made from grass may not be the most durable of cell phones. But it’s a philosophical step in the right direction. After all, how much does durability matter if planned obsolescence or forced obsolescence have us changing our phones every 18 months on average* (Source: The important factor in the case of throw-away goods is whether or not the item can be repurposed or recycled easily.

So maybe the idea of a grassy phone is a little before its time or only fit for the GaGa’s of the current age. Nonetheless, the concept is thought-provoking and should provide at least a new perspective on how we need to design our disposable indulgences.


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3 Responses to “Cradle-to-Cradle Design: Top 5 Fashionable and Biodegradable Products”

  1. I find it very odd to have a phone made of grass…it may be a step in the right direction,but it’s not a step towards a good idea.

  2. Skot

    08. Jun, 2011

    Fantastic post! Well written and an powerful topic.

    Cradle-to-cradle is a significant improvement on our current system of disposable electronics. Plus, recycling just doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to products with too many varying parts that need different kinds of recycling.

    If you ever consider guest posting on similar topics, give me a shout.

    #twitter @greenmarkettv

  3. pujashree

    09. May, 2013

    In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, “waste equals food” is the first principle the book sets forth.

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