Ditch the styrofoam! Keep your picnic grub and grog cool while protecting the planet



The cooler may be one of the simplest pieces of gear one may ever need for any type of trip, whether to the beach, or for a canoe trip, or just to a tailgate.


Not much thought ever went into buying one either. The lone criteria was that it kept its contents cool. For decades, you’d throw your sandwiches and beverages (who are we kidding – beers) and some ice into a styrofoam container, throw the lid on it and place it in your trunk. You’d reuse the same cooler until it broke, usually later that day. And because these coolers only cost a few bucks and could be bought everywhere, you kept buying these white cubes whose sole post-use purpose was to incrementally destroy the planet.


Now, Igloo has come out with the galaxy’s first-ever environmentally friendly cooler. You hear that Mars? This cooler will help you too when we start colonizing you! The RECOOL, which looks like a very sturdy corrugated box, has no bells or whistles. It gets the job done and is biodegradable. And since it’s not styrofoam, you don’t have any of those squeaks that make everyone within a square mile wince.



The simple design is somewhat effective. Ice is supposed to retain for 12 hours, but it’s more like eight, which is still good. Our cooler never leaked after the ice melted. One design flaw was the material on the inside bottom got scraped off when wiped while wet, so you’ll need to let the cooler completely air dry, which is in the recommended care instructions. 


You can also use ice packs to not build up condensation. That is what we did on our weekly day trips to the beach and a weeklong off-the-grid trip to Vermont. 


The RECOOL only weighs 1.5 pounds and the handles are very comfortable to hold. Igloo declares the cooler is strong enough to hold up to 75 pounds. I didn’t put this claim to the test because I’m not sure what you can possibly need to keep cool at that weight. Although Italian deli sandwiches overstuffed with gabagool and mutz can certainly get up there… If you’re going liquid only, then the 16 quart cooler can fit 20 12-ounce cans. When you’re tired of holding one of those cans, the lid has four built-in cup holders.  



igloo recool cooler
Nothing like an ice cold beverage at the beach. Wait, look, it’s surfer Rob Machado… Photo provided by Wonderlust



With several cities banning the use of styrofoam coolers – and styrofoam altogether – it’s time we all get on board. Who can argue with a cooler that keeps your food and drinks cold while saving the planet that we spent years killing? Feeling guilty yet?


 If you’d rather haul your victuals on your back, Igloo also makes several backpack coolers, including this one that I also tested. It can tote an entire 30-pack! There are multiple insulated pockets and the pièce de résistance is the bottle opener that’s attached to the padded shoulder strap. It’s worth buying for that alone.  $10, igloo.com