Coconut vs. Polyester

In an article that came out last week on ScienceDaily and many other places around the blogosphere, researchers from Baylor University in Texas used coconut fibers taken from the husks to create molded composite board similar to the polyester version used on door bottoms, in trunks, and on floors of some cars.

Why, though, would you use coconut instead of polyester? We will do a comparison with a few simple questions and equally simple answers:

Where do they come from?

Polyester is an inexpensive, man-made fiber and can be made anywhere. Coconuts are inexpensive seeds that come from trees in the tropics.

What are their uses?

Polyester (think leisure suits) is a multipurpose chemical composition and is useful for making everything from clear plastic bottles— yes, like the ones your 20 oz beverages come in— to tape. It is in more things than you would think and a short list can be found here at an Auburn University site. Coconuts can be just as useful in ways outside of angel’s food cake. Fibers are used to make ropes, coconut oil is used in a variety of ways, and coconut milk is just plain good. You can find a list of uses here at the Coconut Museum.

Are they renewable?

Polyester is renewable as long as we keep drilling for oil (that was sarcasm). Coconuts grow like weeds, so that is a yes.

Are they recyclable?

Polyester in many forms is recyclable. Coconuts take it a step beyond and are compostable.

An added bonus to coconuts? You get warm fuzzy feelings.

There are millions of coconut farmers in the world living in less than pleasant circumstances. Using coconut composite board would increase the demand for coconuts and increase many people’s standard of living. The composite board is just one of the ways we can ween our dependency on plastics.

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. Read more about Marizela and her love of all things science-related at her personal site, Potspoon!

And remember the Ecostore USA giveaway is going on until Sunday January 25th at 7pm EST, and all you have to do to enter is comment on the giveaway post with a valid email address; if you haven’t entered yet, what are you waiting for?

4 Responses to Coconut vs. Polyester
  1. wendy
    January 14, 2009 | 8:55 pm

    Interesting! I’m all for going natural, especially if it will help coconut growers (and others) improve their standard of living.
    And I looooove smothering my skin with coconut oil while on the beach. It smells heavenly.

    I read a post yesterday about growing plants in coconut fibers. I think it was a hydroponic type of growing medium.

  2. Mimi
    January 15, 2009 | 4:16 am

    Hi Wendy! It’s true that using coconuts will improve the standard of living for many others and it could potentially create jobs here as well. You could easily manufacture the car parts here! I love coconut oil, too, and use the pure form (made locally of course) on my hair!

  3. All Rileyed Up
    January 15, 2009 | 11:32 pm

    That is so cool! I hadn’t heard about this. I also never knew there was a Coconut Museum.

  4. Mimi
    January 16, 2009 | 9:22 pm

    @ #3… yeah, I think there are museums for everything nowadays. I think it’s definitely an option we should consider.