Interview with Ethos Planetware Founder

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Here at Anonymous Good, we hate to brag (not really) but we meet some of the coolest people doing the coolest things in the world. Today is no exception— Randall Stainton is the founder of Planetware. And because we’re big fans of sharing Good that people do in the world, we sat down (virtually) for a Q&A with Randall.

We’ve heard fun things about Planetware from fun people (so obviously it’s amazing). What is Planetware exactly?

Planetware is plant-based tableware made from bamboo, rice husk, and corn bioplastic. It’s as durable as plastic, but completely compostable when you finally throw it out. It’s colored with natural vegetable dye, and we designed it to be stackable so it take’s up minimal space in your cabinet.

What inspired you to start Ethos Planetware?

I’m a design nut and basically stay in a perpetual rabbit hole looking for designers, materials, philosophies. A few years ago I was working as a food and beverage manager in a luxury hotel in China. At the time I was reading about the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy — which basically says that we should be looking at the entire lifespan of a product, from start to finish, not just the period of “usefulness”. (If you haven’t checked out Cradle-to-Cradle you totally should.) So it was sort of a perfect storm of being in China — where I was surrounded by bamboo and where most things in the world are made, being surrounded by tableware everyday at work, and then reading about this philosophy. I figured that a great way to champion sustainable living is through tableware — because everybody eats, right?

Exactly how Good is Ethos Planetware for the planet?

We kept Mother Earth in mind throughout the entire design process. The materials that go into Planetware are not only all-natural, but also incredibly sustainable. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing and most renewable plants on the planet. Rice Husk, which is the part of rice you DON’T eat, is typically considered a “waste” byproduct of the rice industry. In fact, our only cost for rice husk is transporting it from place to place — the actual material is free. And corn bioplastic is far superior to oil-based plastics and completely renewable. Of course, all these materials also compost back into the Earth — so Planetware is virtually zero impact start to finish.

How did the two elements of earth friendly products and tableware combine for you into the beautiful products they became today?

Serendipitously, mostly. We started by looking for raw materials that are natural, strong, and renewable. This lead us to bamboo powder and rice husk — which are both incredibly durable due to their high cellulose content. We found that when we used the bioplastic to hold everything together, the end product was alive with grain and texture and had a really natural feel.

What are your thoughts on consumer shift toward being Good to the planet?

I couldn’t be more excited. Like so many other movements that are changing society right now, the change is coming from the bottom up, not the top down. Consumers are leading the charge in so many ways today — be it by crowdfunding companies they believe in (like ours!) or putting pressure on existing companies to clean up their act. This whole Internet thing is pretty crazy, right?

We’re fans. But then again, we’re a little crazy about Good on the Internet. Tell us about your efforts on Kickstarter and how we can get involved.

We only have 8 days to go for our campaign. The more active and engaged customers are, the better your chances of success. So the best help is simply spreading the word! Of course if you really believe in us, you could contribute as well. :)

We’ll check it out. Maybe we’ll post about it on Anonymous Good (anonymously, of course). :) So how long do consumers have to wait to get their hands on the Goods?

We’re expecting to ship our first orders in mid June — Hopefully in time for Fourth of July Celebrations!

We’re all for celebrations! Speaking of which, what’s the coolest thing you’ve come across on this journey for Ethos Planetware so we can celebrate it with you?

I hate to be cliche, but I gotta say it’s the people I’ve met along the way. Most people involved in the green movement are really motivated do-gooders. Work harders. I’ve met some amazing people who will serve as inspiration as I push to grow this movement and this business. I can only hope I’ve left them with a mutual feeling.

Consider us inspired. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule clearing your own path in the world (with an axe). :)

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