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For coconut farmers, husks are a waste product that quickly piles up. Meanwhile, people need to keep food cool in the hot countries where coconuts grow, and they often use styrofoam. A Philippines-based startup is tackling both issues with coolers made of coconut husks.
The company's first brand is Fortuna Cools, which launched in 2018. Because so much expanded polystyrene — aka styrofoam — ends up in oceans, founders David Cutler and Tamara Mekler searched for a sustainable insulation material to create durable and affordable coolers for small-scale fishermen. They found coconut husks.
Able to protect coconuts from the elements and from dropping from tall palm trees, their shells are inherently tough. But the market for husks is limited, and after harvesting coconut meat, farmers often burn the shells. Which results in hazardous amounts of smoke, and tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere. By purchasing husks, Fortuna Cools not only prevents those fires, but provides farmers with an additional source of income.