Changing the World One Cup, One Plate, One Fork at a Time

Eco-conscious entrepreneur Lauren Gropper has ditched conventional plastic-ware in favor of a sustainable option. 

by Sue Tomchin

Lauren Gropper is making convenience eco-friendly.

Lauren Gropper is making convenience eco-friendly.

In the last 10 years alone, we have produced and consumed more plastic than in the entire 20th century. 

Eight percent of the world’s oil supply is used to make single-use plastics and less than 10 percent of this plastic is recycled. 

These statistics give one pause, especially if you’re cleaning up after a party or picnic and find yourself with a heap of plastic refuse destined for the landfill, where it will remain, unchanged, virtually forever. 

Green entrepreneur and environmental activist Lauren Gropper saw this happening and decided to develop an alternative. She founded Repurpose, Inc., a company that makes hot cups, cold cups and cutlery from plants instead of petroleum.  

Repurpose’s products use soy-based ink and are free of toxins such as chlorine or BPA, a potentially hazardous industrial chemical found in many plastic containers. The company’s plates, cups and utensils are not only from sustainable sources, they are durable enough to reuse, a practice the company encourages in its public education initiative promoting eco-conscious living. The Repurpose hot cup is insulated to keep heat from escaping. That means coffee or tea stays hot longer, and you don’t need a sleeve to carry the cup, yet another way to save resources.

In addition, the company’s products are compostable. This means that in an industrial composting facility, they decompose in a matter of months, not millennia. Repurpose products can also be disposed of in your regular recycling or trash.

Repurpose is only the latest example of Gropper’s environmental activism. A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-accredited professional, she has consulted on more than 75 projects in North America. She has a master’s in environmental planning and design and has taught green building principles to graduate architecture and urban planning students. The co-founder of Minimal Products LLC, an environmental consulting firm, Gropper was an on-camera host and consultant for HGTV’s Green Force and worked as a green consultant on the HBO show Entourage. You also may have seen her in ads for Absolut Vodka as part of the company’s Visionary campaign.