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.

Toothpaste: Is tubeless the answer?

Day 54 – While working my way through the bathroom and figuring out where we could eliminate plastic, I came upon the toothpaste tube or should I say toothpaste tubes. Easily, we could have about four different types of toothpaste in the bathroom draw. Regular, kid friendly, for sensitive teeth and extra whitening, we covered it all. All plastic and all non-recyclable, a double whammy!

In my search, I came across numerous alternatives to the plastic tube of toothpaste.

  1. All natural – I have read numerous zero waste posts that suggest using baking soda and water. While this can help whiten teeth and can eliminate plaque, the baking soda can be abrasive to the tooth enamel. I did not find this a good option for the family.
  2. Toothpaste tablets – I first saw these on Shark Tank. There are countless brands available. I was intrigued by this option, but for a family of 6 it would be rather costly and I wasn’t sure how the kids would do with chewing a tablet without swallowing most of it.
  3. Metal tube – There are numerous brands that offer toothpaste in aluminum tubes (David’s, Marvis). Aluminum is a recyclable material, so it makes for a good option. Once again, the cost became an issue. One 5oz tube could cost around $10.

Then I found Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. They were the first to create a fully recyclable plastic tube. So, once we completely empty the tube, we can put the cap on and place it in our plastics bin. Though, this is not completely ideal, it’s better than our previous tubes. And since we started sorting our recyclables and bringing them to the North Park Recycling Center, I do feel a bit better about recycling plastic. Eventually, I would love to get to a place where I am not putting any plastics in the recycle bin.

Other factors that turned me on to Toms’s were the following:

  1. They use natural ingredients in their products.
  2. They are a B-Corporation.
  3. They have partnered with TerraCycle to take back products to be recycled. I am currently on the waiting list for this program.
  4. They donate 10% of their profits to nonprofit organizations, like The Nature Conservancy and United Way.
  5. They encourage their employees to use 5% of their paid time to the organization of their choice (animal shelters and schools, repairing trails and removing invasive species, and coaching kids teams).

Tom’s of Maine has been around since 1970. In 2006 they became part of the Colgate-Palmolive company. Today you can find numerous Colgate brands that offer recyclable plastic tubes. TerraCycle also has a take back program with Colgate.

Procter and Gamble (makers Oral-B and Crest) introduced their first fully recyclable tube last month. They announced that all their toothpaste tubes should be recyclable by 2025.

So, if the tube is your preference, check the label and make sure that it’s recyclable. If your tube is not recyclable or you’re not pleased with your city’s recycling program, be sure to check out take back programs.

We’ll tackle the plastic toothbrush in a future post.

Tomorrow, safely storing your food.