While bustling through a corner of CES, some iPhone cases caught my eye and I stopped to take a closer look. What I found is a lot more interesting than I'd have ever expected.
This is the BioCase from Nite Ize. It is made from "GD P.U.R.E. Bio Resin (GDH-B1)—the world's first certified compostable elastomer." Don't worry, I'd never heard of this stuff either. It was created by Binith Shah, who later founded Green Dot with his wife Elizabeth Rickard Shah (who happens to do the designs on the cases). Now, Green Dot is partnered up with Nite Ize for getting products made from this new elastomer out to the masses.
Green Dot's site states, "GDH-B1 is safe, durable, certified to meet the toughest environmental standards, and manufactured in the USA. By using organic materials as its base, not fossil fuels, GDH-B1 means a lighter carbon footprint and reduced carbon emissions overall. The life cycle of a product made out of GDH- B1 is complete when it decomposes back into organic material. Products made out of GDH-B1 transform themselves into compost quickly and safely in accordance to the EN 13432 and ASTM D6400 standards. It's the perfect plastic solution."
When I asked if it really does compost, and not just break apart into ever smaller bits of plastic-y stuff, I was told that yes indeed it will fully compost. Back into actual dirt. In fact, I was told that it would compost in under 12 months if you were to toss this onto a compost heap. But usually one doesn't toss stuff like this on a compost heap and expect it to biodegrade. So I double checked. According to Green Dot, "If left in an aerobic commercial composting facility, an item made out of GDH-B1 will transform back into plant-nourishing compost." [Emphasis mine.] Now that's more like what I was expecting.
So back to the cases -- they're adorable, and made to fit iPhone 4 and 4S. They're soft, flexible but durable, and don't add much bulk to the phone. I got to try one out on my iPhone 4 and I have to say, I really do like it. They don't do anything fancy like charge your phone, but they do give you the peace of mind that you're buying something that will one day become dirt, not something that will forever be plastic. Considering that there are billions of cell phones in use on the planet today (there were 5 billion cell phone subscriptions way back in 2010) and that cases are a fashion accessory for a good chunk of those cell phone users, having a cradle-to-cradle option like this is definitely appealing.
There are a wide variety of designs already, and likely more to come -- though these cases aren't for sale through Nite Ize until March of this year. You can pre-order, though, and they run between about $20 and $30 depending on the design you select. Or, you can go to REI and grab one -- they're in stores and online.