The most eco-friendly way to pack food and drinks for a trip to the beach is obviously in a reusable cooler, and yet, every year, you see hundreds of those disposable styrofoam coolers lining the top of the frozen food section at every grocery store, all of them destined to end up in landfills by Labor Day.
That’s why REI and Igloo teamed up to design the first fully biodegradable disposable cooler, now on sale for $10. It’s made from recycled paper and Alkyl ketene dimer (which REI describes as “a natural component that waxes and binds the paper pulp for stability and waterproofing”), it definitely looks like it, in spite of its molded handles and cupholders.
But as flimsy as it may look, it actually has some pretty impressive specs. It can hold 75 pounds, keep ice frozen for up to 12 hours, and remain water tight for up to five days before breaking down. They also claim that if you empty the water and air dry it, you can keep reusing it, but I’m sure that the waterproofing will give way eventually. And when it does, the entire cooler is fully compostable.
Again, it’s probably best to invest in a cooler that you’ll reuse for years, and it’s hard to see this thing supplanting styrofoam as long as it remains an REI exclusive, but it may be worth stocking a few this summer for quick one-day getaways.