The following article is reprinted from the October 2013 issue of Natural Awakenings
When we think of the word “disposable,” we immediately see in our minds the picture of a product that is thrown in the garbage being used once. Reality is different. Even though a consumer may use plastic plates and utensils just one time and do the job of getting rid of them by disposing them in your garbage can, these may last for 1,000 years before they decompose.Besides this alarming statistic, plastics use up to 8% of all oil consumed worldwide, make up 15% of all solid waste in landfills and can be harmful to our health by contacting food or water. This is why companies such as Yumi EcoSolutions, located in Norwalk, have been looking for alternative ways by replacing plastic disposable plates and bowls with eco-friendly natural products.
The process started when Virginia P’an, Yumi’s founder and CEO, was an advisor for a Chinese company in its products category and later became their exclusive marketing sales distribution in North America. “That is how I got into the natural starch disposable business, looking for something to give back to our society and our community,” she says.
Corn and bamboo on your table
Yumi® EcoSolutions products are divided in two lines. Unlike paper products made from trees which take 8-10 years to grow, the Return® products, ”the throw away that goes away®,” are annually renewable. These products are made from natural starch, mostly from annual non-GMO corn crops that are no longer consumable. They have a minimum shelf life of two years.
The second line is Yumi Nature+®. These products are made from bamboo powder using a brand new technology that was only patented in the U.S. last month. Dishwasher safe and with a shelf life of at least five years (if used and washed in the dishwasher everyday), this line offers dinner and party serving plates and pasta and salad bowls as well as flower pots in vibrant colors.
Yumi™ products are can be used for either hot or cold foods without worry. For example, the Return® tableware products can sustain a temperature range from -40 to +300 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Most of the eco-friendly green products that have come out to market so far carry a high-end price premium over regular replacement products. We have been able to manufacture these products and bring them to market at the mass consumer price level. If you only sell them to the people with a higher income you are not protecting the environment. The only way you are going to do so is if the mainstream consumers are using the products. This is the reason why our products are priced at replacement costs,” adds Virginia P’an. “We are bringing game-changing technology in products to the market at everyday prices.”
With offices located in Norwalk, Yumi® products are currently being made in China but the company’s strategic goal is to start manufacturing them in the United States in about 18 to 24 months.
Yumi products can be found locally at Palmer’s Market in Darien, Village Market in Wilton, Ancona’s Market in Ridgefield, Our Green House in Newtown and Mario Batali’s Tarry Market in Port Chester, NY. Online, they can be bought through Amazon.com.