Every year, our environment continues to suffer without proper waste management established in every country and thus citizens take it upon themselves to address this. Many have become environmentally conscious as they grow aware of the harmful effects of human activities on the planet. There are good practices that are being collectively developed such as using reusable bags when shopping and eating more sustainably.
As consumption will be perpetually part of our lives as humans, there are those who have turned to be more mindful of the packaging of their purchases, especially from online stores. Companies have therefore been looking for ways to offset carbon emission when it comes to their whole processes, including the consideration of materials they’ll use in packaging. This is understandable as the demand for eco-shift grows and people become more aware of what’s happening to earth.
The world has started to grow familiar with a remote set-up as well. People inevitably do deliveries or any kind of exchanges instead of meeting face-to-face for safety reasons. Regardless of whether you’re sending gifts or buying something for yourself, putting in the effort of looking for eco-friendly packaging materials is a good first step to live sustainably. This shift in behavior across market segments is glaring which is why businesses that do not invest in eco-friendly resources or ways might end up being on the losing end. To avoid this and to generally become a responsible earth dweller, here are some eco-friendly packaging options that you might want to consider next time!
Newspaper. This is perhaps the top of mind packaging alternative in every person’s mind as it is a common household item. It can challenge our creativity and have it repurposed for a variety of uses. Apart from possibly covering a gift item, it can also be used as a safety wrapper for fragile materials such as glasses and dishware. Another innovative idea is to use it as an egg carton as suggested by Marian Obando where a little bit of origami magic must be applied.
Bioplastics. Plant-based materials like cornstarch is the main ingredient used for these which will biodegrade faster than the usual plastics that will most likely outlive us. Further, they produce 70% less greenhouse emissions in landfills so they’re pretty much suited to composting. Though, it must be noted that they cannot be conventionally recycled. Using them as an alternative would be a good choice nonetheless.
Biodegradable packing peanuts. Like bioplastics, these are compostable and made of either cornstarch or wheat which are non-toxic. These are also getting common nowadays so it’s affordable apart from the fact that there’s a huge market for them. It’s safe to say that this would be the best alternative to styrofoam as it can also help prevent movement and cushion against shock for sensitive items. Better to do away now from any toxic loose-fill packaging and opt for this biodegradable packaging.
Towels or sheets. Well, these would be mostly advisable for personal use since it might be pricey for companies to widely make these as primary packaging when it comes to cushioning something. There’s nothing wrong with repurposing old towels or sheets, as long as they’re clean when you give a fragile gift out with them. It’s really a matter of being creative and practical when it comes to packaging by making do with still-usable items in the household. Best to start minimizing your environmental impact by using these instead of buying more unnecessary packing materials.
Leaves or plant fibers. It’s interesting how these haven’t dominated most of the markets yet. These have been gaining popularity in tropical countries especially in Asia as a wonderful alternative to pack things. While the two are technically different as plant fibers are more obviously processed than raw leaves, both make excellent packaging materials that could be as stylish as those that are not eco-friendly. It would be great if more companies explore the possibilities of these materials as they hold much potential in dominating the packaging space.
Corrugated bubble wrap. Believe it or not, there’s an eco-friendly alternative to the all-time favorite plastic bubble wrap. This is usually made out of 100% recycled cardboard which is why it can be both recycled and composted, especially given that it’s derived from post-consumer and post-industrial waste. What protects the material to be packed against the shock is the concertina-type effect that is made from the small cuts created in it.
Inflatable air pillows. These are another eco-friendly alternative to both styrofoam and bubble wrap. While being cost-saving, they also come in many different shapes and sizes which makes them versatile. It’s best to use them to fill the voids in boxes or to provide cushioning as needed. They are basically small, inflatable bags which consist of air when used as a packaging alternative. However, they cannot be composted as they’re still often made from a plastic-based material. They’re still a good choice though since they can be reused and recycled, cutting down on the amount of plastic used in productions. Just make sure to check the components of the air pillows you’ll get and see to it that they’re 100% recycled materials which emphasizes their biodegradability.
It can sure get overwhelming when you suddenly decide to be eco-friendly so take it easy. The initiative to look for alternative packaging options is already a good step toward engaging yourself in more sustainable practices that could certainly benefit you as an individual and the world we all live in.
As you stay firm with your resolve, you can influence big businesses to change their means of production to a more mindful way like what is already happening today as more people become environmentally conscious. We can hope that a lot more business owners from all over the world will take the eco-shift with the continued attitude and concern of consumers toward the environment. After all, it’s the least that we could do for renting a space here on earth. Happy packing!
About The Author:
Katreena is a scientist and a life hack specialist. She’s authored scientific journals on biotechnology and molecular biology. To take a break from scientific journals, she puts her mind into writing about lifestyle, health, and sustainability. She strongly believes that kindness makes the world go round.