Packaging can be eco-friendly too!
Did you know that every year, Australian households create 666,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste? On average, people create about 2kg of trash everyday. Many of these plastics are unable to recycled and some that can be take up to 450 years to break down.
To make matters worse, the WTO estimates that approximately 130,000 tonnes end up in our oceans and waterways.
This distressing truth is we never really throw things away, we just put them somewhere else. And those places are our oceans and landfills.
And obviously, this has serious adverse effects on the environment. Packaging waste such as bubble wrap, styrofoam and packing peanuts are very difficult to recycle. This means they also spend a very long time on our earth before ever breaking down (with some not breaking down at all!).
The Sponge is purpose-driven branding company. Because of this, we have a strong desire to explore sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives for packaging. And show other brands that going eco-friendly or zero-waste with their packaging is not going to set them back!
So what can we do to help lessen the impact of packaging waste? And make the world a better place for everything living in it?
Luckily for us, many brands are looking to go zero waste with their packaging! This speaks volumes to us as a branding agency. Because we are all about being conscious while telling a clear, impactful brand story.
And on the even brighter side, some big mainstream brands are hopping on board the zero waste packaging train. This will no doubt set an amazing precedent for the market and make it easier for consumers to reduce their trash derived from packaging. It also accelerates the innovation required.
One of the mainstream brands is actually LUSH. They have recently opened a few naked packaging stores in the UK. Some of the products include their classic bath bombs, solid body lotion bars and solid shampoo and conditioner bars.
Previously, their liquid products were contained in biodegradable and recycled plastic bottles. However, these have all been replaced by a bottle made from a beeswax-like material.
The message they intend to send is that traditional packaging methods such as plastics are rubbish. And that they’re unnecessary and harmful to the planet.
This is important because it sets a precedent for the rest of the world that packaging doesn’t have to be harmful. You can revamp what you have and make your brand own that new style!
Plus, in the case of LUSH, people now perceive them as an even more purpose-driven brand and their naked packaging has effectively become a part of their company aesthetic.
And it’s all incredibly admirable because it reminds us that the journey to be more conscious never ends. LUSH were already above average with being eco-friendly. They have had biodegradable and recycled packaging for years but that didn’t stop their progress.
They kept going and evolving which shows that there is a unique solution for every business (if you need a helping hand, send us a message, we always love to chat!)
But what else is happening in the world?
We all know now that LUSH is basically an eco-friendly and purposeful super-force. But what about smaller brands? What are some packaging alternatives they’ve been using?
One of the most interesting that I’ve come across so far is Mushroom Packaging! Developed in 2007 by Ecovative Design, it’s created from the mycelium and the agricultural byproduct of hemp.
It comes in many different shapes. And It’s similarly priced to conventional foam packaging. However, the benefit is that it’s 100% compostable and biodegrades at a very fast rate. (So packaging could actually be reused as seed starters or planters!)
Seaweed packaging is another amazing alternative. They’re wraps that can be used to protect perishables through shipping either by folding or heat sealing.
It’s a zero waste product as it completely dissolves in warm water. And it’s 100% biodegradable and works as a perfect fertilizer for plants.
And it’s food safe and can be customised by printing logos on it with edible ink or changing the colour with natural, food-safe dyes!
Last but not least, recycled cardboard is currently one of the most accessible friendly alternatives for packaging. It’s cost effective and still does it’s part by keeping cardboard and paper out of landfills.
While it doesn’t have the incredible biodegrading ability of the above two packaging options, it’s still amazing. Recycling approximately 1 tonne of cardboard saves approximately 9 cubic yards of landfill space.
And there we have it! Some nice alternatives to plastic packaging for those brands who want to lessen their environmental impact.
But while these alternatives can be nice, we understand that sometimes the costs and location of where you are can make it difficult to get these products. You don’t need to wait for the perfect solution. Do the best you can now, closely monitoring development of sustainable alternatives and keep pushing your branding agency and printers for better options.
While we cannot be perfect all the time, there are some steps you can personally do to lessen the impact of packaging waste in the other areas of your life:
We are inspired by the lovely Plastic Free Mermaid who quit plastics 10 years ago and shares a wealth of advice on how you can too. Below are a few of our favourites (which we have paraphrased). And be sure to check out her instagram for more @plasticfreemermaid
- If you’re confused on how to start quitting plastics, do a trash audit! Keep all your plastic trash for a week, every single scrap. At the end of the week, spread the plastic out and assess what you can change and do differently to avoid these.
- If you have reusable cutlery or containers already, remember to clean them thoroughly. Leaving the reusables dirty can create a negative association in your brain with reusables. You want to set yourselves up for success when going plastic free. So wash immediately after use, and then your reusables are always clean and ready to be used and prevent trash from being created!
- If you’re eating out and forget your reusables you can still make an effort to save the planet! Ask takeaway places to skip the lid on your container, it’s still a great effort and helps staff get used to people standing up to unnecessary single-use plastics. With cutlery, if the place you’re eating at doesn’t have metal spoons and forks, you can always find wooden chopsticks at a nearby sushi place!
- Try making some beauty or hygiene products at home as opposed to buying them! I make my own deodorant with 1 tbsp sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), 2 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) and 3 tbsp coconut oil. Keeps the chemicals and plastic away from you!
- Bring reusable mugs to the coffee shop! That way you can stay social but keep those disposable cups away from the landfills.