Updated: Jun 14
The holiday season and overfilled landfills go hand in hand, here's why.
That really cute glitter wrapper paper that you tore open on your birthday, the plastic wrap on your recent amazon order and even the plastic bag that your groceries came with are all examples of wasteful packaging. Packaging plays a vital role in the marketing, transportation and preservation of a product and is the one aspect of products often ignored by customers.
(Also Read: Rethink your plastic packaging)
How is conventional packaging bad?
The packaging alone contributes to over 20% of the waste in our landfills every year, and even more is contaminating roads, rivers, oceans and forests. And it’s not just the earth that’s at risk. Chemicals in packaging materials such as BPA, phthalates and PVC are toxic for the human body as well and have led to no shortage of health issues from allergic reactions to even cancer.
Sustainable packaging refers to the sourcing, development, and use of packaging solutions that have minimal environmental impact and footprint. Simply put, sustainable packaging is earth-friendly and doesn’t contribute to the further depletion of natural resources. It optimizes the use of renewable energy sources and is beneficial for all individuals in the product cycle. Whether you’re the consumer or seller, here are some ways to make your packaging greener-
1. Plant-based packaging-
Plant-based packaging, made from renewable, lower carbon or recycled materials, is compostable and doesn't contribute to landfill. Plant-based materials are both sustainable and beneficial to the environment.
Polylactic acid (PLA), also known as Bioplastic
Bagasse (sugarcane residue)
2. Recycled Materials-
Recycled packaging is a great way to extend the life of previously used materials. Recyclable materials include glass, metal, card, paper and – increasingly – certain plastics.
Plastic made out of previously recycled plastic
3. Reusable/Returnable Packaging-
This is any form of packaging that can be cleaned and reused. Not only is this method eco-friendly but it’s cost-effective as it reduces the need for more packaging.
Steel Pots and Crockery
4. Edible Packaging-
Edible packaging typically uses sustainable, biodegradable material, derived from natural plant polymers, that is applied as a consumable wrapping or coating around the food. Edible packaging is a great way to reduce packaging waste drastically.
Milk-based packaging (milk proteins)
5. Things to do with unsustainable packaging you may have-
Repurpose the product or “artify” it to use as a decoration
Reuse it as packaging for other products
Donate it to a recycling facility or dispose of it safely
Living completely “zero” waste is not the easiest but taking small steps to a more sustainable and less wasteful lifestyle goes a long way, especially as producers and consumers, since buying and selling things is a part of your everyday life. Incorporating some of these alternative and sustainable packaging options is not only eco-friendly but brings many other advantages to you too. So let’s try to buy while being green!
(Also Read: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Zero Waste Movement)