I have been committed to protecting our natural world all of my adult life so why do I use conventional plastic regularly in my business?
Plastic is a remarkable material; cheap, versatile, protective, flexible and durable.
It is produced from fossil fuels and often ends up in landfill. And is catastrophic if it ends up in our natural world or in the ocean.
So why do I use it regularly in my business?
I have been committed to protecting our natural world all of my adult life and endeavour to make well-informed choices.
To this end, I have researched the claims made by the non-plastic alternative materials in order to understand how to sustainably manage plastic waste in my business. Some, not all, but definitely some of the information is simply green-washing and things are not always as good or as simplistic as they seem. The devil is always in the detail and I would like to share my thoughts about my plastic packaging policy.
When you buy Dr Hauschka products from me, you will notice that I often wrap products in conventional plastic packaging. I know that it runs counter to the current drive to say ‘no to plastic’ but there is informed method in my madness. Please read on.
For many years my trade deliveries were packaged in natural maize chips which were dissolvable and compostable. The chips were re-used for my customer parcels and I used paper bags for face-to-face sales. It seemed straightforward and environmentally sustainable.
But I discovered that maize chips are not sustainable because its production uses agricultural land which would be better used to grow food.
My trade orders from Dr Hauschka now arrive in a combination of biodegradable air pockets and conventional plastic bubble wrap. Perhaps oddly, I distrust the biodegradable air pockets more than the bubble wrap. The air pockets state that they are recyclable and compostable but research shows that these terms are open to interpretation. And if this material biodegrades in nature it creates the same destructive problems associated with conventional plastic. I think that bubble wrap is more sustainable because it can be easily re-used many many times and is recyclable.
My policy is simple;
REFUSE > REUSE > RECYCLE > DISCARD only if there is no other alternative
If I can get away without using packaging at all, I do.
All packaging I receive with my trade orders is re-used for my customer orders. The intention is that you can then re-use it many times yourself or pass it on where possible. I appreciate that the air pockets are often impractical to re-use regularly in daily life but they will, at least, have been used twice.
Plastic recycling is the next best option if it can no longer be re-used.
And finally, if the material is to be thrown into landfill, I see it as my responsibility to provide the correct disposal advice to my customers.
Parcels: For online parcels I currently use any combination of ‘second-hand’ biodegradable air cushions, conventional bubble wrap and compostable maize chips.
Direct sales: You can choose to bring your own bags or I will pop your products in a re-used, re-useable plastic sealable bag.
Much more sustainable than a new paper bag.
*Bubble wrap can re-used many many times and can be recycled in your local supermarket plastic bag recycling.
*Biodegradable air cushions are the most complex. They must NOT be recycled with conventional plastics, despite it being implied. You can choose to add it to your personal compost but it must NOT be added to council-collected food or garden waste. Your local council may collect biodegradable waste at the kerbside (although this is unusual). If it is not collected, biodegradable air cushions must be disposed of in landfill.
I would not use biodegradable material if I was buying them in. But because I receive them in Dr Hauschka trade orders, it is sensible to re-use them at least once before they end up in landfill. I have had many conversations with them about this material and we now agree to disagree on the sustainability claims made by the air pockets manufacturer.
Packaging is a hot topic and will get hotter. I have no doubt that developments will be made and I will change my policy in due course.
Please do make comments or give me feedback. Genuine sustainability is my goal and we all can learn from each other.
Thank you for reading.
Photograph by AnnaER from Pixabay.
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