Nevada entrepreneur develops biodegradable drinking cup
Special to the NNBV
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Nev. — Imagine a lightweight travel mug that keeps the original taste of a beverage, with no aftertaste of plastic, metal or cardboard; keeps the temperature of hot or cold liquids better than other containers; isn’t made of toxic materials; and is dishwasher safe.
Add that it is biodegradable and won’t contribute more plastic to the oceans and landfills. Designed to last many years, the mug is manufactured through a patented process using rice husks, starch and heat activation.
Topaz Ranch Estates resident Deborah Chang was inspired to develop her biodegradable mug after reading “The Green Collar Economy” by Vann Jones.
The book pushed her to think of ways to create eco-friendly alternatives to petroleum-based products and at the same time produce new jobs, particularly in rural America.
Chang is president and CEO of Equity Incites and is owner of Adaptive Appalachia LLC, a West Virginia-based company she and her disabled wife, Carla, established to produce products for people with disabilities.
One of their products is a cane that enables Carla to pick up trash, retrieve dropped keys and play with their two dogs.
Chang and Carla recently moved here from San Francisco. Chang founded the company Sage Sierra in Wellington, in Lyon County, to take advantage of Nevada’s business-friendly environment and tax benefits.
Though the cups are now made in China, she is hoping to soon locate her production facilities in the state and obtain rice husks from farms in Northern California.
“While my company and inventory is now in Nevada and the cups will be sold and distributed from Northern Nevada, unfortunately it will probably take a couple of years at least for me to raise enough capital to start a new manufacturing factory to make the cups here,” Chang said.
The hope is, she said, to employ people who are now left out of the work force through disabilities and others, such as displaced miners, former prisoners and farmers, while at the same time help the environment.
The 14-ounce Sierra Sage travel mug has a leak-resistant silicone lid and grip. It retails for $14.95, although the mug is now on sale for $10.95 plus shipping and can be ordered at sage-sierra.com.
Chang is making plans to sell the mug online through Walmart and Amazon. For information about the mug or the company’s goals, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.