Paper Foam: It’s Foam … Made of Paper.
There’s this place where I live called “Jimmy’s Food Store” and it is, as you might expect, a store where food is sold. But oh what food it is! Italian comestibles dripping with Italian deliciousness, sold with Italian gusto to Italians and non-Italians alike. At Jimmy’s Food Store you can get an Italian meatball sandwich that will bring tears to your eyes. You will literally be crying as you eat it because it is so tasty, and you’ll be crying after you’ve eaten it because you’ll be so sad it’s gone. I just started crying quietly at my desk just because I am thinking about it, actually.
If there is a drawback to Jimmy’s meatball sandwich (and please note that when I say drawback this is like pointing out that Miss Universe had on one too many fake eyelashes at the last pageant) it is that you receive it in a Styrofoam container. I remember learning that it takes something like nine billion years and a thermonuclear explosion for Styrofoam to break down and return to Earth, and that even as it does so it is poisoning things and wreaking havoc and stealing your purse at gunpoint. It is bad stuff. And even if you accept the fact that it has some good points (is a cheap insulating material that basically lasts forever) the Styrofoam containers at Jimmy’s are evil because they MAKE THE SANDWICH A LITTLE BIT SOGGY IF YOU DON’T OPEN IT RIGHT AWAY.
Image courtesy ecolect.net
I starting thinking about this while eating lunch at Jimmy’s last week because I had come across information about PaperFoam, which is an injection-molded cellulose fiber-based packaging material. Paper foam is itself made from recycled paper, and its properties are similar to thin Styrofoam or pulp in packaging applications. According to Ecolect, “the product is extremely lightweight which lowers the transportation costs, and consumers can discard [it] with paper recycling or in the trash as it easily biodegrades… PaperFoam CD packaging, for example, has an 85% lower carbon footprint compared to traditional, plastic jewel-case CD packaging.” The product is produced in the Netherlands, Denmark, the United States and Malaysia.
So I am thinking that Jimmy’s needs to develop a PaperFoam extra special vented meatball sandwich container. It would be biodegradable, prevent the sandwich from getting soggy, and keep it warm at the same time due to its insulating properties. And for those of you wondering how this is relevant to architecture – you can’t build anything on an empty stomach!
I have filed this material under WOOD because it is made of tree fibers.
“Check Out Paper Foam, an Amazing Material!” Ecolect.net. Accessed 10/5/11. URL.