EcoTensil's EcoTaster "GreenDot"

overall rating:



Alyssa Schaer
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Aren’t free samples just the best? I feel like it's hard to find someone that doesn’t like getting something for free, especially food. Also, samplers are not the only ones that benefit from the sampling experience. A “Product Sampling Study” by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, found that 35% of customers that try a sample will buy the sampled product in the same shopping trip. Also, 24% of surveyed customers replaced an item they planned to buy with a sampled product. Therefore, if companies want to increase their sales and brand awareness, free samples sound like an appetizing experiential marketing tactic. However, there is a dark side to sampling...and that is the waste it creates. Plastic spoons and cups are used for a single taste and then tossed in the trash, burdening landfills and oceans. 

EcoTensil’s CEO, Peggy Cross, understands that disposable utensils and cups provide businesses with convenience and profit potential, but she believes that her company designed a better way to enjoy samples with less waste. Her solution is called the EcoTaster “GreenDot”, a compostable paperboard spoon. The company advertises its paperboard utensil as sustainable, highly space-efficient, and brandable. Also, the product has been used by large companies such as Costco, Target, and Whole Foods.

I recommend this product to food retailers that are searching for a sustainable single-use sampling utensil. The EcoTaster “GreenDot” takes up less space in the trash compared to traditional plastic spoons, while also being cheaper to buy too (50 dollars for a 2500 pack of spoons, or 0.02 cents per spoon). Additionally, the product has the potential to be composted and is made from sustainably forested material. However, EcoTaster is by no means a perfect product and the company should continue to search for new ways to make their products' materials and manufacturing process more efficient and environmentally sustainable. 

What it's made of:


EcoTaster “GreenDot” is a sturdy paperboard sampling spoon with a mineral-based coating, to enhance its durability to moisture.

Paper materials are often a good choice to use in products because paper comes from renewable farmed resources, and is compostable and recyclable. Conversely, plastic materials are mainly manufactured from oil, which is a finite resource. Also, most plastic utensils cannot be recycled and if tossed in the trash, it will take them hundreds of years to break down.

Although raw paper materials are more sustainable than plastic, it is important to note that many paperboard products, such as coffee cups, are not sustainable. The unsustainable paperboard products use a thin plastic coating to stabilize and strengthen their products. It is difficult for recycling facilities to separate the plastic lining from the paperboard products, so the products cannot be recycled into either paper or plastic.

However, the EcoTaster “GreenDot” paperboard spoon can be both recycled and composted. Instead of a plastic lining, the EcoTaster uses a mineral-based coating to cope-with deterioration due to moisture. The mineral-based coating is American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D6868 compliant for compostability and recyclability. The ASTM D6868 certification is designed to test a product’s level of compostability. The EcoTaster breaks down completely in a home compost within 3-4 weeks and they are also fully repulpable and produce high-quality recycled fibers. In the landfill, EcoTasters use ¼ the amount of space versus plastic utensils.

How it's made:


To begin, EcoTensil guarantees that its raw paper materials come from sustainably managed forests in Arkansas, Idaho, and the Midwest. Also, the company’s products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council [FSC]. The FSC is an international non-profit that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.

Next, let’s understand how they manufacture their products. According to the EcoTensil website, all of their products are manufactured in the USA. Their manufacturing facilities won awards and engaged in sustainable practices by recycling 95% of waste and being efficient with energy usage. Additionally, the shape of EcoTasters reduces the need for extra demo materials. Businesses can use the full-sized “bowl” area to “plate” samples, reducing the need for a spoon and a cup.

Lastly, EcoTensil’s tasters can be compacted tightly for transport and storage. Reducing the size of the taster and the amount of material used means that it has a significantly lighter carbon footprint in shipping. EcoTasters are packaged in a paperboard box, but EcoTensil’s website does not disclose whether their packaging is recyclable or compostable. The spoons take up much less space than plastic or wood utensils—5,000 EcoTasters fit in the same box as 1,000 comparable utensils. 

Who makes it:


EcoTensil’s CEO, Peggy Cross, designed the company’s EcoTaster products. Her company is small and headquartered in California. Before Peggy Cross created EcoTensil in 2010, she was the Principal, Creative Director, and Co-founder of Sterling Cross Creative Inc., a strategic food and beverage packaging design firm.

The company states that it is “...passionate about designing practical, pleasing solutions to support growing demand for to-go convenience while reducing the amount of costly waste burdening landfills and oceans.” And based on the previous two sections above, I believe that this statement is true. Additionally, EcoTensil’s website promotes sustainable segments of the EcoTaster life cycle, thus expressing their commitment to creating sustainable products. However, for the company to be more transparent, I want EcoTensil to publish life cycle segments that need to be improved.

Although the company’s website provides customers with a lot of information about who designed the product, it does not provide enough information about the company’s partnership with its manufacturing and distribution centers. The products are made in the United States, which has stricter labor laws in comparison to other countries, but this does not mean that there isn't corruption. Therefore, I believe that EcoTensil should publicly publish its supply chain, and demonstrate to consumers how their company enforces ethical labor laws.