A Green Alternative To Styrofoam
Krista Ruchaber believes it’s not too late to save the planet.
“We are a very to-go culture,” says Ruchaber about her company Styrophobia, which sells plant-based biodegradable take-out containers, bags, cups, plates, bowls, knives, forks and spoons to restaurants, supermarkets, delis and catering companies. “The ideal would be for everyone to bring their own bags and their own containers, but we are not at that point yet,” says Ruchaber. “It is very difficult to remember to bring your own container.”
Clients now using the biodegradable products are Diamond Head Cove, Zeus Juice, Edible Arrangements, Food For Thought on the North Shore, and Uahi Island Grill in Kailua. Fresh From the Farm, a vendor at farmers’ markets across the state, is also using Styrophobia products.
The products are sold by the case, and Ruchaber says the company is actively looking for a retail store that may want to carry smaller quantities that people can purchase for their picnics and luaus.
So what’s wrong with plastic and Styrofoam?
“Benzene and styrene not only leach into the food from the container itself, but into the environment through landfills and water systems, then entering the food chain and ultimately the human body,” Ruchaber explains. “We’re educating people in schools, community events, through our website, participating in beach cleanups and local news to spread the word.”
Originally from Oregon, Ruchaber moved to Hawaii after spending five years in Micronesia teaching elementary school. The Kailua resident has an acupuncture practice, which she’s cut down to twice a week since she started Styrophobia earlier this year.
One of her challenges is raising awareness.
“Every chance I get to speak, I do that,” says Ruchaber. “If we can have a booth, and have a public presence, that really helps. We take any opportunities that we are invited to. It helps for us to share our message directly to the consumer so they can make a request of their businesses that this is something they want. If businesses know patrons will support it, it makes a big difference.”
A goal for the firm is to have a presence on all the Neighbor Islands. “I’ve been happy about the community support from friends, family and small businesses,” says Ruchaber.
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