Plastic waste has become a huge problem across the globe. It's everywhere; in our oceans, on the side of the road, living in landfills. We walk down a grocery isle and see tons of plastic packaging, even covering our fruits and vegetables. Earth Day Network states that about 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year but only about 10% is recycled or reused. Luckily, consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of the problem and inclined to search for products that have sustainable packaging. Likewise, a lot of companies are searching for more eco-friendly options to reduce their footprint. Check out our tips to learn how to reduce plastic packaging.
Why is Plastic Packaging A Problem?
According to an article from the New York Times, the drastic increase of plastic waste in recent years has come from plastic packaging. Scientists estimate that in 2015, packaging consisted of 54% of non fiber plastic that was thrown away. Here are three reasons why plastic packaging is such a problem:
Around 80% of the packaging is thrown away after only one use.
IT DOESN'T BIODEGRADE
Plastics take hundreds of years to decompose, meaning most of the plastic ever created is still around.
Companies oftentimes go over-board on the packaging i.e. it seems like chip bags contain 40% chips and 60% air.
TIPS TO CUT DOWN ON PLASTIC PACKAGING
Look for Sustainable packaging options
Biodegradable packaging is becoming a popular option for companies looking to reduce their environmental impact. Biodegradable packaging means that once disposed, the packaging will break down on it's own after a short period of time. Compostable packaging is also a great way to divert waste from landfill and transform the packaging into a nutrient-based soil. Lush is a great example of a company that limits their packaging and uses creative alternatives to plastic packaging.
avoid over-ordering / order in bulk
A great way to cut back on waste is to avoid over-ordering. The less you order, less packaging is required. Also, try buying in bulk when you can. Bulk-orders typically require a lot less packaging then buying products individually.
We're big fans of reusables to cut out wasteful plastics. You would be surprised how much waste is reduced when you use reusable or refillable items (think, 500 disposable coffee cups a year). Avoid the retail coffee cups, plastic water bottles, plastic eating utensils, take-out containers and unnecessary food-packaging.
Limit online shopping
As online shopping becomes more popular, the amount of packaging waste increases. Not only do our online orders require packaging, but the shipments tend to be "over-packaged" in large, wasteful boxes filled with unrecyclable plastic, packing peanuts, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, etc. When you're able to shop for your items locally, you eliminate the need for all that wasteful packaging.
TAKE THE LEAD
Sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands! Simply getting in touch with businesses and expressing your desire to purchase items that are handled in eco-friendly ways is sometimes what it takes to make a change. A poll from a packaging company, Sealed Air found that 66% of Americans believe that how their items are packaged represents how much the retailer cares about their order. When companies go the extra mile to be eco-friendly, customers perceive their brand as higher quality than those who don't.
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