Three students demonstrate how to make your own edible tableware with their project zestawZESTAW.
We are drowning in waste. Data from the Polish Ministry of the Environment show that a mere 11 per cent of the raw materials thrown away in Poland are recycled, as compared to almost 50 per cent of total waste in neighbouring Germany. Moreover, packaging accounts for over 60 per cent of the rubbish in European landfills. Consumers buying ready-to-eat meals and individual servings instead of bulk packs – not to mention the superfluous layers of packaging generated by not buying unprocessed food products loose or by the kilogram – all contribute to this onslaught of plastic waste.
Involving consumers in the process
zestawZESTAW - which could be translated as “set of tableware set of tableware” - grew out of a desire to go back to more natural, independent consumer choices and to offer hands-on involvement in day-to-day rituals. The project creators explored existing solutions before taking the next step and going on to manually produce and replicate their tableware. When studying in Warsaw, Martyna Ochojska, Dominika Wysogląd and Joanna Jurga encountered KroWarzywa, a local burger joint which serves up vegan burgers on edible plates made of bran, and they came across the concept of biodegradable tableware online (e.g. in EcoSouLife, whose reusable plates, manufactured from corn starch, rice husks and bamboo, can even survive the dishwasher, but quickly break down 100 per cent when thrown out in the rubbish).
However, the three girls wanted their product both to ease the load on the environment and to get diners more involved in the tableware-making process. “First of all, common plastic tableware will be seriously cluttering up our environment for years to come, and their minimalist, over-simplified forms are creatively unstimulating and unappetising”, remarked the designers. They also felt it was crucial to let children take part, to encourage ecological awareness and creative thinking from an early age. For that reason, they decided to experiment with edible dough which would allow tableware to be made at home.
The ideal formula: bananas, rice and potatoes
According to the inventors, finding the right ingredients and proportions was not so easy. In order to foster creativity, their baked dough tableware needed to be durable and made of cheap, readily available ingredients. “Additionally, we wanted it to smell nice, keep its shape, and be easily dyeable and fun enough to involve younger children. We had to make sure it wouldn’t sting on their skin, for instance“, they explained. So Martyna, Dominika and Joanna locked themselves away in the kitchen for a week to launch a process of experimentation that seemed less like design in the classic sense and more like preparations for a wedding – drying, grinding, cooking and baking. They finally came up with the ideal formula: bananas, rice flour (or boiled rice), potato starch and water – elastic enough to form any shape, and robust enough to withstand being baked and then filled even with hot liquids such as soups or thick sauces. Adding banana ensured that the tableware had a pleasant, fruity odour, and the thickness of the dough gave it a “home-made” appearance, with chunky edges and sides of varying thickness.
Dyeing the bowls, plates and serving dishes was the next phase of this creative process. After questing their way through spice drawers, well-stocked greengrocers and herbalist shops, they settled on some fragrant, brightly coloured kitchen companions: turmeric, spirulina and cocoa, which dye the tableware yellow, dark green and brown, respectively, each with its own aroma. Adding carrot, beetroot, pumpkin, lemon, orange and lime juice or peel extended zestawZESTAW’s palette from orange to claret.
Eat it, feed the birds or bury it in the garden
The end result is scented, delightfully odd-shaped tableware which may be safely eaten after use - or fed to the birds, since it is organic. If there are no feathered friends in your neighbourhood, you can simply bury it in the garden, where it will break down in no time.
The most charming feature of the idea is its replicability. To reproduce the idea at home, zestawZESTAW’s Facebook page includes a simple recipe which only requires basic manual and culinary skills. Martyna, Dominika and Joanna also organise workshops to promote their idea, teaching children (as well as adults intrigued by this sense-stimulating fun) how to supply themselves with eco-friendly kitchen accessories.
zestawZESTAW constitutes a small yet fascinating contribution to a more livable environment; an attempt to incline consumers to be more conscious, engaged and creative. Although this will require time and curiosity, wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a world where we are needed?