Human Nature Nuggets

Unlike sheer instinct, human nature involves individual thought as to how we should handle or improve various situations. As homo sapiens, we never know what will happen as a result, but each of us tries by doing what we think is the best solution. Here are some examples…

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Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

I am a writer at heart, a proofreader by trade, but without a soul if it were not for the nuthatches crawling down my trees, the robins, chickadees, cardinals, and yes, the much-maligned jibbering starlings that create their own unique concerts. I have wildflowers and perennials squeezed into my front and back yards and along the curb of my house in the city. My greatest job: I was a reporter for a locally-based newspaper, where I wrote human interest and news articles, but now I am a freelance writer, both online and in print. See MY ONLINE ARTICLES on how to ATTRACT BIRDS and BUTTERFLIES, and the HEALTHIEST NATURAL FOODS at my contributor page

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Corn-Based Plastic Food Containers Replacing Petroleum-Based Plastics? They're Here!

Beginning Nov. 1, Cargill-owned NatureWorks, which makes natural plastics from corn, will supply environmentally-friendly containers for fresh strawberries, Brussels sprouts, cut fruit and herbs to Wal-Mart, the largest grocery chain in America, according to an Oct. 21 article in Minnesota’s St. Paul Pioneer Press. Replacing conventional packaging with NatureWorks PLA for just these four items alone will translate to more than 100 million containers per year for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., according to Matt Kistler, vice president of product development and private brands SAM’S Club (a division of a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.). “With this change to packaging made from corn, we will save the equivalent of 800,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce more than 11 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from polluting our environment,” Kistler said.

Phase Two includes approximately eight million more packaging items with cut vegetable containers. Phase Three, just in time for the holidays, will be new NatureWorks PLA gift cards. The final phase scheduled for 2005 will include bread bags, donut boxes and select tomato packaging.

Wal-Mart and NatureWorks spent about a year extensively testing packages made from the plastic known as PLA, or polylactic acid. One thing that can’t be packaged in corn-based plastic containers—hamburger, because many people defrost it in the microwave, and the PLA will melt.

Made from Midwestern field corn, NatureWorks PLA is a bio-based plastic that can be used in a wide range of packaging applications from clear food containers to beverage bottles. The material provides the convenience, look, feel and performance of petroleum-based plastic packaging – while being made from a 100 percent annually renewable natural resource. Cargill, a biotech company based in Minnesota, is an international marketer, processor and distributor of agricultural, food, financial and industrial products and services. They provide customer solutions in supply chain management, food applications and health and nutrition. To read more about these sustainable efforts, go to

Okay folks, admittedly this news isn’t specifically related to human nature, but it does raise a lot of questions, which is our nature to do (or at least mine). For one thing, how will we be able to distinguish between corn-based containers and traditional ones made from petroleum? Also, can they be recycled? How soluble are they? Will they be able to break down in landfills? Other than that, I’m gung-ho!


Blogger kathy said...

This is very good news! glad to hear.
I love the title of your new blog! Thanks for sharing :) keep posting!

10/25/2005 7:38 AM  
Anonymous sherrie said...

Hi Dar. Love the new site, its going to be a big hit; keep up the good work. Very glad to hear about the corn-based containers, finally something safer for our microwaves. Love Sherrie

10/25/2005 4:44 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Thanks for your kudos, both of you! But Sherrie, beware. I mentioned this towards the end, about the tests they've done, but I should have pointed it out more explicitly--YOU CAN'T USE THE CORN-BASED CONTAINERS IN YOUR MICROWAVE! That's one of their drawbacks--they'll melt! Sorry...
But look at the benefits: We don't have to use gasoline, they cut back on greenhouse emissions, and this will be such a benefit to those farmers who grow corn.

10/26/2005 4:54 AM  
Anonymous sherrie said...

Hi Dar, yes you are right about the product melting in the microwave of course. I read recently that we should be changing containers from frozen dinners to glass or microwave safe, as certain fast food and containers from the grocery stores do contain toxic fumes and can contaminate food. I would assume that it would take quite a while for this to happen, but yet young children should not be exposed to this threat. Warm Regards.....sherrie

10/26/2005 4:47 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Kelly Eggers, in Web Services for Cargill Public Affairs, e-mailed me to say that NatureWorks PLA does have the potential to be recycled—once there is a sufficient volume of product in the market, and the infrastructure is in place to make recycling economically feasible. To get the specifics, go to: latest recycling news for NatureWorks PLA. Click on "recycling" at the left side of the page, then click on "press release."

10/29/2005 10:47 AM  
Blogger suri said...

Hi Dar....
Nice to see you and i love your blog. great news...keep posting

10/31/2005 12:05 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Thanks for the encouragement, and good to meet you, too! I fully intend to visit your site when I get home from work, or tomorrow if need be, since it's Halloween. If'n you get a chance, wander over to my other site,, too? (oops, is it appropos to give it a plug?)

10/31/2005 5:22 AM  

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