Eco Packaging is Not a Fad

Day 185 – More times than not the news about the state of the environment can be rather depressing. It does seem like an uphill battle. Thankfully, more and more companies are making changes to be more environmentally friendly. Many have started with their packaging choices.

Eco packaging can come in a variety of forms:

  1. Made from post consumer recycled (PCR) material – PCR is created by consumers after a product has reached the end of its use. The benefit of using post-consumer content is it reuses refuse in the manufacture of goods, preventing items from ending up in the landfill or needing to rely on raw materials.
  2. Compostable material – Compostable products are made from renewable resources such as corn or bamboo. Compostable products need the proper conditions to breakdown. A commercial compost facility is a place where the perfect balance of heat, moisture, and oxygen is created to break down organic and plant-based materials. Without this perfect ecosystem, compostable products don’t break down. If compostable products are disposed of in the trash, which is what people commonly do, they won’t break down.
  3. Recyclable material – Cardboard, paper, aluminum and glass are all more easily recycled than plastic.
  4. Biodegradable material – If something is biodegradable, then, given the right conditions and presence of microorganisms, fungi, or bacteria, it will eventually break down to its basic components and blend back in with the earth. Ideally, but not always, these substances degrade without leaving any toxins behind. Some companies are beginning to use plant based packaging made of things like cornstarch, mushroom, sugarcane and coconut.
  5. Reusable packaging – Reusable packaging is packaging that can be used over and over again. Reusable packaging is key to a successful circular economy.

Kellogg’s – Kellogg’s already uses recyclable cardboard boxes for all of its cereal, and as part of their zero-deforestation pledge, most of these boxes are made from recycled carton board.

Lush – Lush makes handmade cosmetics using natural ingredients. Where possible, they use no packaging at all. For products that do require packaging, Lush uses sustainable, recycled materials for 90% of all packaging. Lush pots and packaging materials can also be recycled, composted or reused.

Colgate – Toothpaste tubes are usually made of a mix of materials that make them impossible to recycle. The company has been able to use high-density polyethylene to make a tube that can be recycled (much like milk cartons) but is also compatible with Colgate’s high-speed production equipment. The tube can even be ground up to be used to make something else.

Don Maslow Coffee – t’s using Elevate Packaging’s compostable films which are durable, yet moisture and oxygen resistant. As a result, every element of its coffee bags, including the seals, can be composted removing a huge amount of plastic from waste streams.

Alter Eco – Chocolate company Alter Eco has created wrappers, which are now fully compostable and non-toxic. The company spent three years developing the new material to ensure it protects the products as well as traditional packaging. It can be composted in industrial facilities but will also biodegrade if it ended up in the normal streams. Alter Eco has also created fully compostable stand-up pouches for its quinoa products.

Alima Pure – The certified B Corp sells its makeup in refillable compacts. So, when you’re done with your foundation (for example) just pop it out of the compact, then buy a refill magnetic pan filled with your desired new foundation and pop it in. Alima Pure is also proud to be carbon neutral and a member of 1% for the Planet.

Plaine Products – Plaine Products makes bath and body products packaged in aluminum bottles and eco-friendly shipping cartons. Plaine Products offers a refill program where you can send your bottle back to be refilled with product again and again, so you can save money and cut down on waste.

Who Gives a Crap – Their products are 100% plastic free and have options made from 100% recycled paper or 100% bamboo. Additionally, 50% of profits are donated to help build toilets for communities in need around the world. 

No Evil Foods – No Evil Foods sells a variety of small-batch, plant-based meat alternatives using sustainable ingredients. The brand’s innovative packaging uses fully compostable materials printed with plant-based ink.

Environmentally friendly packaging is out there, you just need to look for it. We also need to encourage more companies to use it.

Tomorrow, coming out of the pandemic and realizing that going back to “normal” is not an option.

Chocolate: The not so sweet truth

Day 35: I really like chocolate. Milk, dark, white, I pretty much love all kinds. I never really thought about where the chocolate came from and how it was produced. All I knew was that it tasted good and I enjoyed eating it.

Well, this journey to be more friendly to the environment has also taught me to be a more informed consumer. I am becoming more knowledgable and in turn this knowledge has directed my purchases. Now, it’s not happening overnight, but I’m trying to make a conscience effort to change my shopping habits and choose companies and products that are benefiting people and the planet.

So, with Valentine’s Day just 10 days away, I got to thinking about some sweet treats for the kids. I started looking for candy companies that use their businesses for good. While on my search, I came across the 2020 Chocolate Company Scorecard. Mighty Earth, Be Slavery Free, and Green America surveyed the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find out which companies are rising to the challenge of making cocoa sustainable.

“Together we surveyed 13 chocolate companies and 8 cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: mandatory due diligence; transparency and traceability; deforestation and climate change; agroforestry; living income policies; and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems.”  Green America

I was surprised to see some of my favorite chocolate companies had scored rather low. It definitely opened my eyes to some serious issues plaguing the chocolate industry.

See the full chocolate scorecard here.

Though, it will take some major discussion to convince a certain chocolate lover in the house that his preferred candy of choice (peanut M&Ms) is not doing much to promote sustainable work practices or to keep children safe, I will continue to take steps toward making sure the chocolate that we consume is not hurting the planet or the people making it.

So, this Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to seek out companies that are taking these issues seriously and are doing something to improve the situation.

Here are a few suggestions:

Looking forward to trying these sweet treats!
  1. Alter Eco Foods – Every product they make is sourced from farmer-owned coops practicing sustainable agriculture. They are also pioneers in compostable packaging, and have worked with they’re cacao partners to replant the rain forests where their beans are grown.
  2. Theo Chocolate – They pay more for certified fair trade and organic cocoa beans, to ensure farmers receive a living wage. They work directly with farmers in the Norandino Cooperative in Peru and Esco-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to source amazing Organic & Fair Trade certified cocoa that benefits farmers and the environment.
  3. Unreal – Two friends figured out a way to create the chocolate treats we have grown to love, using fair trade, organic, and sustainable ingredients. I also should mention it has 40% less sugar than leading brands.
  4. Endangered Species Chocolate – They are passionate about bringing authentic chocolate to the marketplace with real, responsibly sourced, health-conscious ingredients and no mysterious sweeteners or additives. Since 2016, ESC has donated over $2.6 million to its Give Back Partners who focus on wildlife conservation.
  5. Beyond Good – They work directly with over 100 cocoa famers in Madagascar. They help them grow premium cocoa and they earn considerably more money for it. They also built a factory near the farmers to eliminate the middlemen. They are also using cocoa agroforestry to help replenish the lush vegetation of Madagascar.
  6. Divine Chocolate – Their business model reflects the belief that producers should earn a share of the profits they help to create. That’s why one of the shareholders of Divine Chocolate is Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union, a co-operative of 100,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana who grow the finest quality cocoa for their everyday and seasonal collections. The farmers’ ownership stake in Divine Chocolate is a first in the Fair trade world.
  7. Tony’s Chocolonely – Over the last few years Tony’s Chocolonely’s has been working on their sourcing principles for slave-free cocoa. This enables cocoa farmers to earn a living income, which will help put an end to illegal child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa.

If you would like to learn about Fair Trade Certified products, click HERE!

So, enjoy your chocolate this Valentine’s Day and know you are helping the planet, along with the hard working people that are making that delicious cocoa product for you.

Tomorrow, 1% might not sound like a lot, but it can make a huge impact.