What you need to know:
- Students make edible cutlery to save the environment.
- The message is to reduce plastic consumption.
Can you save the Earth by eating? Vivek Menon student of grade 9, studying in Private International English School, Abu Dhabi, has come up with an idea - Edible Cutlery. He makes spoons you can eat up after you eat with them.
The havoc of plastic pollution and the need for reducing plastic usage was what inspired Vivek to create what he prefers to call ‘IncrEdible Cutlery’
The thirteen-year-old and his fellow students learnt about plastic pollution during the ‘Bhavans Natura’ the Eco Club run by the school as part of the Sustainable School Initiative (SSI). Divya Srinivasan, a student also in grade 9 especially, showed interest in the project and worked with Menon.
I am a social science teacher at the school and I head the club.
His chemistry teacher Firdaus Fatima was the inspiration for this initiative.
During a recent visit to Global Village, Vivek noticed overflowing bins of disposable cutlery galore. He then noticed a little boy, slurping up an ice cream, after which he ate the cone. This gave him the idea of edible cutlery. He said: “After a number of trials and errors experimenting with different flours, I managed to find the right combination that gave the right consistency – so that spoons are hard enough to use, while soft enough to be eaten,” he said.
The dough is moulded to the desired shape and baked in an oven.
IncrEdible Cutlery is a simple and tasty alternative to mitigate the problems of disposable cutlery. It is made from ordinary kitchen items such as rice flour, wheat flour and some spices to enhance the taste. Hence, it is free of plastic, is biodegradable, and lightweight and disposable when compared to metal cutlery. Even if you waste them, it causes no harm to animals or the environment. The prices are comparable too. It costs about 17 Fils to make one item of edible cutlery at home. So if the initiative is taken up at a commercial level the cost can be further reduced.
Furthermore, the incredible cutlery can be safely used both in cold and warm foods. It can maintain its shape and consistency for more than an hour when dipped in hot food such as soups. Just like biscuits, the incredible cutlery has reasonably good shelf life too.
Such initiatives are the dire need of the hour as it reduces landfills and pose as an alternative to the extensively used plastic. This enterprising project goes in tandem with this year’s theme of Earth Day – ‘Protect Our Species’.
“As we witness an alarming decrease in the species of marine creatures, biodegradable cutlery can play a vital role in reducing the negative impacts that plastic does to seas thereby saving some of the species such as dugong and sea turtles,” said Girija Baiju, principal at Private international English school.
“It is a delight to have students like Vivek, blessed with creativity and inventive imagination. I have always stood in awe before his inquisitive nature,” said Firdaus Fatima.
School aims to go green, inspires other schools
Vivek and the other members of the Eco club, with the support from his teachers have gained momentum with this initiative, and are running a number of campaigns in the school as a part of their green initiative and sustainability programme. The idea was explained during a special assembly held in connection with Earth Day celebrations in the school with the aid of a presentation. The recipe was also shared among all the students and teachers. As a part of sharing the best practice, the same concept was explained to the Eco Club members of our neighbouring school.
Vivek is also participating in Adi Shankara Young Scientists Award 2019 to take this idea forward. HE said: “Right now all the cutlery that I make are made by hand in our kitchen, thanks to the patience and support of my mum, Padmaja Menon. But my dream is to mass produce these cutlery and make it readily available in the food court, restaurants and super markets,” said the young innovator.
— The reader is a teacher based in Abu Dhabi.
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