The Do's & Don'ts of Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Packaging
Making packaging eco-friendly is an increasingly popular incentive that has been embraced by companies around the world. There are many ways to make casing products more environmentally conscious. This means that consumers need to navigate the available choices carefully in order to promote the most mindful packaging possible. Unfortunately, having so many choices can make this a difficult and daunting task.
How do you remain sustainable when you need to package and ship items?
Little to no wrapping is preferable, but when packaging becomes a necessity, how do you know which items to support so as to prolong the material’s life and create the least amount of waste?
Doing the research necessary to make informed decisions is hard.
The resources available are extensive and the information can become confusing quickly.
Love Your Mother Boutique (LYMB) wants to make going green as easy as possible.
We’ve done some of the tricky work for you so that you can have a better understanding of what to look for when buying a packaged product is unavoidable.
Pitfalls of Unsustainable Packaging
⅓ of packaging in Canada is made up of single-use plastics, & only 9% processed for reuse
Did you know that, one-third of the packaging in Canada is made up of single-use plastics? That's 2.8 million tonnes of waste which wind up in landfills every year. Even where recycling facilities are available, only 9% of plastics are actually processed for reuse (National Geographic) leaving the rest of it to be lost in the environment or sitting in a landfill - either way, destroying our Mother Earth.
What happens when recycling becomes confusing to consumers?
As consumers, properly disposing of recyclable plastics and as many other materials as possible (cardboard, metals, etc.) is an integral part of the eco-friendly journey. What happens when disposing of this alternative packaging becomes confusing? For example, many companies have opted for ‘biodegradable’ options that give the illusion of environmentalism but could, in fact, complicate the problem further.
Biodegradable products and decomposition
Biodegradable products cannot be sustainably recycled, nor do they break down in an organic manner. They do not have a small time-frame for decomposition and require a very specific environment to expedite the process. Unless you have a proper biodegradable facility in your city and the product is disposed of properly, these items are more trouble than they’re worth.
By choosing to purchase products that do not endorse packaging options that are misleading and unnecessarily wasteful, we can make a meaningful difference in the way companies markets their wares.
Easy Eco-friendly Alternatives
(And Why They’re Better)
By now we all realize that single-use plastics are not the way to go when trying to live an eco-forward lifestyle and that there are better low-waste alternatives on the market that can make a world of difference for environmentalism as a whole. In many cases, a simple swap-out is all that it takes to make a huge difference in how we consume goods.
As consumers, our choices often dictate what is provided to us. When we invest in something, businesses will provide more of that thing - environmentally responsible or not. Shying from single-use plastics by bringing your own upcycled cloth bag, and storing vegetables in your own mesh carrier can change the entire dynamic of a grocery store.
Sustainable packaging alternatives
Packaging for shipping purposes accounts for a massive portion of avoidable eco-waste. You can typically add a note to your online purchases to indicate your desire for no plastics or other, avoidable wastes. Companies can substitute recycled crinkle paper or corrugated cardboard for plastic cushioning. Inventors have also developed seaweed and mushroom alternatives for the same purpose. In cases when a more reliable and sturdy casing is required, choosing containers that are made from 100% recycled plastics that can be reused and re-recycled time and time again is a great alternative.
Is a sustainable company more expensive? Is it worth it?
Some may argue that investing in a sustainable future might be too much for some companies to take on. In actuality, encouraging companies to make this shift may actually increase sales by expanding customer reach and boosting brand loyalty. It will also lower overhead costs by minimizing the storage space required for their products (they will either need less space or be able to carry more goods) and decreasing shipping costs due to the inherent lighter weight of alternative eco-friendly options.
Some of the basic choices that we make as consumers can seem very black and white on the surface but there are layers to making zero-waste a priority in life and business. We know that styrofoam and plastic wrap are poor choices for packaging so we use recyclable materials instead. Plastic is often used for its strength and cardboard is used when durability is not a priority. These are still considered single-use items and, as with the biodegradable plastic, some bleached papers and cardboards are less-ideal for the environment as well. So, what do we do?
Items that are universally perceived as detrimental to the environment are already on Canada’s list of items to be banned as soon as the new year (2021). Some of these include plastic straws, grocery bags, and stir sticks. Staying ahead of the awesome eco-forward curve will be paramount to living a contented life and running a thriving business moving forward.
Love Your Mother Boutique’s Sustainability Practices
LYMB chooses the most sustainable packaging in facets of our business as we continue to support our customers in following through with their green-living goals. From shipping to sales, we use little to no packaging whenever possible. When packaging is necessary, we use recycled casings for our fragile items like our face rollers and compostable wrappers for items such as deodorant and hair care products.
Long-term sustainability comes from a series of choices within an imprecise hierarchy of what may or may not be better for the Earth in a variety of circumstances. Cutting out plastic is usually the first thing people think about when going green but Forbes magazine points out that food waste actually affects climate change more drastically than plastic waste. In some circumstances, plastic actually solves more pressing issues of over-consumption due todo to its ability to preserve foods and its longevity of use.
It’s all about balance, doing your own research and creating an imperfect impact on the Earth
Finding balance and doing what you can with the knowledge that you have is what will ultimately make the biggest impact. Success in the realm of eco-friendly living requires imperfect action starting with individuals demanding raised environmental standards for everyone.