Reviews verterra2

Published on July 29th, 2008 | by Green Diva Meg

8

Green Diva’s Guide to Fresh Style – Great Green Products: Verterra

Verterra ethical compostable plates and bowlsSummer picnic in sustainable style . . .

I’ve posted here about Wheatware, a company that makes biodegradable plastic alternative products, including disposable flatware, but Verterra’s got the disposable plate, bowl and platter thing down!

I brought some samples of Verterra’s thoroughly sustainable and thoughtfully produced plates and bowls to my office to give them a rough test drive. I’m a salad girl and I love to use a lot of dressing and mix up all kinds of mushy stuff with my green mess, so this seemed to be a perfect way to see how these products held up.

These simple, but amazing plates are like a sustainable fantasy product – ethically sourced, fair-trade made, 100% compostable, non-toxic, bleach-free, non-leaching, made from 100% renewable plant materials, microwavable AND dishwasher safe, reusable and made by wonderful green pixies . . . okay, that last one was me getting carried away.  But wait! There’s more!

Seriously, after making an effort to abuse these plates and bowls, I have to say, there is absolutely nothing negative I can report. They held up well with moisture – no getting soggy or absorbing stuff you don’t necessarily want to taste next time you use the plate. They are generally attractive, although not necessarily uniform and consistent in color, which I happen to appreciate so that doesn’t count as a negative in my check list, but perhaps in someone els’s. They wash quite easily, although I’ve only washed each piece once so far. Not really sure at what point they begin the biodegrading process, but I’ll keep you posted.

Did I mention these plates are made from leaves? Leaves that have fallen to the ground and would otherwise be burned or disposed of! No trees are harmed in the process of manufacturing these plates. A process of steaming, high-pressure spraying and UV sterilizing (while recapturing at least 80% of the water), makes this happen almost by magic without the use of glues or other toxic binders and chemical varnishes, etc.

Aside from the extremely ethical eco-production, these make stylish sustainable summer sustenance serving stuff. How about that for alliteration!

Related GO posts:
Plastic Just Got Sweeter
GreenWare Cups
Green Diva’s Guide to Fresh Style: Great Green Products – Wheatware


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About the Author

Green Diva, radio/TV host, publisher, author, content producer, screenwrwiter, and pro green blogger. all about sharing information on low-stress, sustainable living. You can also find The Green Divas on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Carla

    These plates come just in time for summer picnics and BBQ’s. I also like the sustainable gear at ReusableBags.com–hemp napkins, insulated bags and really cute totes.

    They’re having a huge summer sale right now! Check it out.

  • Carla

    These plates come just in time for summer picnics and BBQ’s. I also like the sustainable gear at ReusableBags.com–hemp napkins, insulated bags and really cute totes.

    They’re having a huge summer sale right now! Check it out.

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    I’ve been using them myself, and can’t believe the combination of looks, utility, and purity. Just amazing that these are leaves, only. They’ve had simple steam pressed leaves in India for eons, but these people really did their homework to make a well thought out product.

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    I’ve been using them myself, and can’t believe the combination of looks, utility, and purity. Just amazing that these are leaves, only. They’ve had simple steam pressed leaves in India for eons, but these people really did their homework to make a well thought out product.

  • Richard

    Critique of Michael Dwork, founder of Verterra

    (& Columbia Business School 2007 winner of the A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition)

    By Richard – Murwillumbah, Australia, 30th October 2008.

    I am an occasional reader of Time magazine and stumbled upon a business article by Jeremy Caplan on Verterra Dinnerware in the October 13, 2008 edition (Australian) of Time (page 52). Also at: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1706699_1707550_1846340,00.html

    Jeremy Caplan’s article is careful not to over-state or claim. However, it strongly implies that Michael Dwork had an “idea” in southern India in 2006, that Mr Dwork developed his idea with “engineer friends”, “crossed Asia to find plants for his plates”, “through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia”, “testing dozens”, “in search of the perfect leaf” and so on. Before settling on a palm leaf in southern India – wow.

    I think it should be known that plates and bowls steam-pressed from the leaf-base (sheath) of the Areca (the so called ‘betel nut’) palm (Areca catechu) have been manufactured in southern India since long before 2006.

    Indeed, in 2006, steam-pressed Areca palm plates and bowls were already in Indian city stores and on display at trade expos in southern India, and have been imported into Australia with the name of Eco-Vision Bioplate since 2005 or earlier. Areca plates have also been imported into Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom since or before 2003.

    Jeremy Caplan’s article includes a photo of Mr Dwork leaning on a small palm tree. I can say, with reasonable certainty, that this small palm is of the species Areca catechu, the common, plantation, Areca palm.

    It seems Mr Dwork copied a well established product (material and method) and imported Areca plates into the US market – which is hardly an “entrepreneurial gamble” and is definitely not an original idea.

    Mr Dwork was a member of the ‘entrepreneurship class’ at Columbia School of Business. Mr Dwork went on, with ‘his idea’, to become the 2007 winner of the A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition, and received $100,000 in seed funding from the Eugene M. Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund – which is remarkable considering the Lang Fund’s emphasis for originality.

    What is outrageous is Michael Dwork appearing to grab the credit and failing to acknowledge Indian ingenuity, Indian producers and Indian exporters who have manufactured quality steam-pressed Areca plates identical to the Verterra product, and who have done so for years before Michael Dwork arrived in 2006.

    For a history of the Areca plate visit:
    http://www.ecovision.com.au
    http://www.eco-vision.in/companyprofile.htm

    This limited critique has been sent to the following:
    Michael Dwork michael@verterra.com
    Jeremy Caplan via Time
    Time magazine
    Columbia School of Business
    United States Patent and Trademark Office
    The New York Times
    New York Post
    And others.

    Richard

    Murwillumbah

    Australia.

    Critique of Michael Dwork and Verterra – continuation.

    The overdeveloped salesmanship practiced by Michael Dwork and Verterra includes the assertion that shipping palm leaf sheaths from India to New York is okay because rural people would otherwise only burn the sheaths. This claim by Verterra is deceptive.
    Although palm leaves may sometimes be burnt for mosquito control, it is arrogant for Mr Dwork to infer that Indian farmers are not aware of the benefits of putting organic material into the soil (composting/mulch).
    Also, in rural India cooking is usually over a fire, and dried palm sheaths are an excellent fuel for the domestic fireplace. Removing Areca palm sheaths from rural areas may have unforeseen impacts, as other sources of cooking fuel need to be collected from the forest or fields.

    Verterra are proud to own extensive production facilities in India, which is, no doubt, the optimum for New York based Verterra’s balance sheet.

    Although Verterra’s facilities provide employment, its wider value for rural development is questionable, and may even be detrimental for rural self-esteem, as the villager labours for the foreign company that stole ‘their’ product.
    Other producers of Areca plates include village cooperatives, the greater benefit for rural development would be obvious.
    If your concern is to support rural development in India, please consider Areca products from village manufacture.

    I like to have Areca palm containers for display in the home. However, from the environmental perspective, the promotion of any single-use dishware is not appropriate – unless intended for areas with serious water shortages.

    In Australia, artists make delightful baskets and sculptures from the leaf sheaths of the Bangalow palm Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, which is also an Arecaceae Palmae.

    Richard – Murwillumbah, Australia.

    Yes, I am a frequent visitor to India, and I do not have any financial interest in any business associated with Areca products.

    14th November 2008.

  • Richard

    Critique of Michael Dwork, founder of Verterra

    (& Columbia Business School 2007 winner of the A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition)

    By Richard – Murwillumbah, Australia, 30th October 2008.

    I am an occasional reader of Time magazine and stumbled upon a business article by Jeremy Caplan on Verterra Dinnerware in the October 13, 2008 edition (Australian) of Time (page 52). Also at: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1706699_1707550_1846340,00.html

    Jeremy Caplan’s article is careful not to over-state or claim. However, it strongly implies that Michael Dwork had an “idea” in southern India in 2006, that Mr Dwork developed his idea with “engineer friends”, “crossed Asia to find plants for his plates”, “through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia”, “testing dozens”, “in search of the perfect leaf” and so on. Before settling on a palm leaf in southern India – wow.

    I think it should be known that plates and bowls steam-pressed from the leaf-base (sheath) of the Areca (the so called ‘betel nut’) palm (Areca catechu) have been manufactured in southern India since long before 2006.

    Indeed, in 2006, steam-pressed Areca palm plates and bowls were already in Indian city stores and on display at trade expos in southern India, and have been imported into Australia with the name of Eco-Vision Bioplate since 2005 or earlier. Areca plates have also been imported into Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom since or before 2003.

    Jeremy Caplan’s article includes a photo of Mr Dwork leaning on a small palm tree. I can say, with reasonable certainty, that this small palm is of the species Areca catechu, the common, plantation, Areca palm.

    It seems Mr Dwork copied a well established product (material and method) and imported Areca plates into the US market – which is hardly an “entrepreneurial gamble” and is definitely not an original idea.

    Mr Dwork was a member of the ‘entrepreneurship class’ at Columbia School of Business. Mr Dwork went on, with ‘his idea’, to become the 2007 winner of the A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition, and received $100,000 in seed funding from the Eugene M. Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund – which is remarkable considering the Lang Fund’s emphasis for originality.

    What is outrageous is Michael Dwork appearing to grab the credit and failing to acknowledge Indian ingenuity, Indian producers and Indian exporters who have manufactured quality steam-pressed Areca plates identical to the Verterra product, and who have done so for years before Michael Dwork arrived in 2006.

    For a history of the Areca plate visit:
    http://www.ecovision.com.au
    http://www.eco-vision.in/companyprofile.htm

    This limited critique has been sent to the following:
    Michael Dwork michael@verterra.com
    Jeremy Caplan via Time
    Time magazine
    Columbia School of Business
    United States Patent and Trademark Office
    The New York Times
    New York Post
    And others.

    Richard

    Murwillumbah

    Australia.

    Critique of Michael Dwork and Verterra – continuation.

    The overdeveloped salesmanship practiced by Michael Dwork and Verterra includes the assertion that shipping palm leaf sheaths from India to New York is okay because rural people would otherwise only burn the sheaths. This claim by Verterra is deceptive.
    Although palm leaves may sometimes be burnt for mosquito control, it is arrogant for Mr Dwork to infer that Indian farmers are not aware of the benefits of putting organic material into the soil (composting/mulch).
    Also, in rural India cooking is usually over a fire, and dried palm sheaths are an excellent fuel for the domestic fireplace. Removing Areca palm sheaths from rural areas may have unforeseen impacts, as other sources of cooking fuel need to be collected from the forest or fields.

    Verterra are proud to own extensive production facilities in India, which is, no doubt, the optimum for New York based Verterra’s balance sheet.

    Although Verterra’s facilities provide employment, its wider value for rural development is questionable, and may even be detrimental for rural self-esteem, as the villager labours for the foreign company that stole ‘their’ product.
    Other producers of Areca plates include village cooperatives, the greater benefit for rural development would be obvious.
    If your concern is to support rural development in India, please consider Areca products from village manufacture.

    I like to have Areca palm containers for display in the home. However, from the environmental perspective, the promotion of any single-use dishware is not appropriate – unless intended for areas with serious water shortages.

    In Australia, artists make delightful baskets and sculptures from the leaf sheaths of the Bangalow palm Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, which is also an Arecaceae Palmae.

    Richard – Murwillumbah, Australia.

    Yes, I am a frequent visitor to India, and I do not have any financial interest in any business associated with Areca products.

    14th November 2008.

  • Richard

    I have been contacted by Mr Michael Dwork. He disputes my critiques, I believe my comments to be valid, readers may choose to disregard my previous posts, and should make their own inquires.

    Richard – Murwillumbah, Australia.

  • Richard

    I have been contacted by Mr Michael Dwork. He disputes my critiques, I believe my comments to be valid, readers may choose to disregard my previous posts, and should make their own inquires.

    Richard – Murwillumbah, Australia.

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