Takeout boxes used for compost, art

The Main Squeeze’s new containers will be featured at Recyclebration.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

Columbia’s Main Squeeze restaurant has long cultivated an earth-friendly image with organic foods and treats. But now the downtown eatery wants customers to take home that ideal in compostable takeout boxes.

The boxes, made from corn and wheat starch, can be thrown right on the compost pile when the leftovers are gone. The eco-friendly boxes will be featured at Recyclebration during the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

For years, Main Squeeze owner Leigh Lockhart has been trying to find green alternatives to restaurant throwaways. Her business already uses recycled toilet paper and napkins. She said she ordered the boxes in June after finding them on the Internet.

“This is just one more step up for us,” she said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

The material used for the boxes is called NatureWorks PLA. It’s manufactured by the Minnesota plastics company Cargill Dow.

People at the Columbia Festival of the Arts Recyclebration activity will be able to use the new boxes to create art. Recyclebration organizer Christine Gardener said the cartons jibe with Recyclebration’s goal of using art to unmask the hidden value of things usually considered trash. She said many great artists have turned to garbage for inspiration.

“What we’re doing is giving people a chance to see that there is a long history of people making art out of recycled material,” she said.

The event will be held in the festival’s children’s area, but Gardener said adults should feel free to unleash their creativity as well.

“Parents and grandparents come with the kids, and the next thing you know, their making things too,” she said.

Festival-goers can also craft flowers from plastic six-pack rings and origami envelopes from old calendar pages. The adventurous can comb through other scraps and follow their muse.

Gardener said participants can take their sculptures home. She has a horde of her favorite Recyclebration creations hung in her office.

The Columbia Festival of the Arts will be held downtown near the Boone County Courthouse beginning at 10 a.m. Sept. 25 and 26. Recyclebration will be on Ash Street beside the Boone County Government Building.

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