GaeaStar’s 3D-Printed Clay Espresso Cups Are Disposable, however Can They Save Us From Microplastics?

It’s type of like seeing a fingerprint in a hand-crafted ceramic mug. Toolmarks inform the story of its manufacture, and whereas the instruments utilized listed here are new, the method is identical. You’re taking moist clay from the earth, dry it, grind it into powder, then reintroduce water till it achieves the consistency you’re searching for. You then form it, glaze it, and hearth it.

There are greater than 3 million potters in India who make wares just like the kulhars and bhars that impressed GaeaStar’s cup, persevering with native traditions that return hundreds of years. Paper and plastic cups have endangered the livelihoods of those potters, however there have been efforts on the native and state ranges to encourage using conventional clay vessels as a substitute of the cheaper, extra environmentally troublesome alternate options.

Sourcing the Clay

In Seattle, I see public trash cans stuffed filled with paper cups and really feel guilt each time I’ve a paper cup sitting on my desk. However are GaeaStar’s clay cups higher for the atmosphere than disposable paper cups? Mankotia says sure, however the actuality is extra sophisticated.

Clay mining within the US is usually synonymous with open-pit mining, which is just as environmentally disastrous because it sounds. Open-pit mines completely injury ecosystems by their very nature. Eradicating vegetation, topsoil, and layer after layer of earth to get to the minerals beneath releases dangerous particulate matter into the air, in addition to poisonous metals and different runoff into close by water programs. Open-pit mines are answerable for sinkholes, erosion, and environmental and habitat loss the world over.

So clay, even sourced regionally, is not a sustainable silver bullet to finish using paper and plastic in disposable cups. It is a tradeoff we’re all fairly used to, although—the form of factor we weigh after we resolve whether or not to order one thing from Amazon or to purchase it at a retailer in our communities.

For paper cups lined with plastic, each step of their lifecycle is the issue—from uncooked materials extraction of wooden and petroleum to manufacturing, transport, and disposal. All of it causes irrevocable hurt that lasts generations. With GaeaStar’s clay cups, the economic processes that produce the uncooked materials are the largest drawback. It isn’t an ideal answer. Selecting the lesser of two evils is all the time a satan’s discount, however generally it is the perfect we are able to do.