Check out DoCoMo's new biodegradable cell phone, the Foma N701ECO--too bad you can't buy it in the U.S. yet (via Gizmodo). It's made of bioplastic based on *corn and* Kenaf, an Asian wonder plant that can shoot up to 14 feet tall with little care in mere months.
Like hemp, Kenaf has lots of industrial potential, but without the stigma.
To the uninformed, the flowering plant's leaves look similar to those of cannabis, which has gotten kenaf uprooted occasionally by the DEA. Kenaf can be used as an alternative to wood pulp papers, and in animal feed, carpeting, clothing, roofing, fire logs, packaging, wallpaper, and in place of fiberglass. Toyota's electric one-person electric bioplastic car (left), the i-unit, uses kenaf as a composite. NEC wants to incorporate kenaf into its gadgets, which the company intends to make with 10 percent bioplastics by 2010.
The USDA has been researching kenaf since 1956. It's being grown in the deep south and California. If its use becomes more popular, the plant has great potential for farmers here and in the developing world. For example, a new kenaf paper mill is expected to bring 30,000 jobs to rural Vietnam by 2007.