DIY Organic Packaging For Business And More
There are now billions of plastics in the ocean threatening marine life and more. Hence, a dire need to look into more sustainable options, such as organic packaging, that can degrade faster than its plastic counterpart.
In 2020, E-commerce giant Amazon became a headliner when an Oceana 2019 report found out that the company accounts for 22.44 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in freshwater and marine ecosystems.
Most of these packaging materials are plastic films, bubble wraps, and air pillows. All of which are standard options for wrapping up products before shipping them out.
But these are not the only options you have. If you are a business owner, make sure to check out these eco-packaging options that you can make for yourself:
- DIY Organic Packaging
- Recycling Packaging Waste
- Ditch the Plastic, Go Natural
DIY Organic Packaging
It is compelling how big companies tend to use environmentally harmful products for their packaging needs when eco-friendly alternatives are easy to make!
Here are some ideas for you to try:
1. Beeswax wrap
Whenever you have some leftover food, produce you want to keep fresh, or just a sandwich you want to bring to work, you grab a plastic wrap. This flimsy, thin, and clingy sheet of plastic was a molecular accident but is now a modern kitchen essential for keeping foods and goods protected.
The problem with plastic wraps is that they are not eco-friendly. It takes decades for them to decompose. Not only that, but plastic wraps also emit highly toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, when they end up in landfills and incinerators, and you can rarely recycle them because they clog up the machines. They are that stubborn.
Instead of plastic wraps, you can use a glass jar for leftovers or a recyclable container for your sandwich. But if you do not have much space in your fridge or your bag, try out this DIY beeswax wrapper from The DIY Mommy.
What you will need:
- Cotton fabric (preferably from old/unused shirts)
- Beeswax block
- Jojoba oil
- Pine resin
- Pinking shears
- Small paintbrush
- Make sure your fabric is clean by washing and drying them before doing this project. Cut them into 8” or 11” squares.
- Prepare your double boiler by putting a bowl on top of a saucepan of briskly boiling water.
- In the bowl, grate ½ cup of beeswax, add 3 tbsp of pine resin, and 1 tbsp of jojoba oil. The pine resin makes it sticky, and the jojoba oil makes the wrap pliable.
- Melt the ingredients in the double boiler until mixed and liquified.
- While waiting for the ingredients to melt, lay down the fabric on a sheet of wax paper.
- When the wax mixture is ready, brush it onto the fabric squares from the center out.
- Put another sheet of parchment paper over the wraps.
- Use an iron on the “cotton” setting and press it over the wraps to ensure the wax mixture is spread evenly over the wraps and seep into the other side of the fabric.
- Remove the wraps from the parchment paper, and hang them to dry.
- Once dry, trim the edges of the wraps with pinking shears.
Beeswax wraps are great organic packaging for fruits, sandwiches, cheese, leftovers, and other things you used to cover up in cling wrap.
After each use, wash the wraps in lukewarm water with a mild detergent and hang to dry. They only last up to 6-12 months. After that period, you can compost them or reapply a fresh coat of wax to reuse.
2. Homemade bioplastics
Bioplastics or plastics from raw materials, like starch, oil, wood, straw, food waste, and more are revolutionizing the plastic industry. However, the thought of using Earth-given resources for creating plastic alternatives is not new. In 1941, Henry Ford, a famous automobile manufacturer, developed the first-ever hemp-plastic car!
But we are not here to talk about plastic cars. We are discussing plastic bags.
Plastic bags have long been the top pollutants on land and water. You find it in landfills, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and even on top of mountains. The possibilities are limitless! And the worst is they take too long to decompose.
What if you can make your own plastic bag at home?
Yes, you can. Here is how:
What you will need:
- Food coloring
- Measuring equipment
- Chopsticks (or any mixing tool)
- Baking tray
- Mixing bowl
- Cooking pot
- Measure 2 oz or 2 ¼ tsp of gelatin.
- Make a glycerol solution using 4mL of glycerol and 1,000mL of water.
- Take 1 ½ cups or 360mL of the glycerol solution, put it in a cooking pot, and stir over medium heat without boiling.
- Gradually mix in the gelatin until the mixture reaches 90°C or 194°F.
- When it comes to the right temperature and starts to form bubbles at the bottom, remove the mixture from heat.
- Stir in your colorant of choice. You can choose natural coloring agents such as beet juice, henna, saffron, turmeric, spirulina, or whatever you have in your pantry.
- Pour into a baking sheet, evenly distribute it, and pop surface bubbles using a chopstick.
- Sprinkle seeds all over to promote recycling.
- Leave to dry in a place with proper air circulation
- After three days, remove the bioplastic from the pan, create a template for a plastic bag, cut and glue together.
It is that simple! Now, you have a fully biodegradable plastic bag. The embedded seeds create a great addition. When they decompose, there is a possibility that a new living plant will rise.
3. Cloth bags
People vouching for sustainability have placed cotton tote bags up on a pedestal. Newsflash: they are not as good for the environment as you once thought. It is the biggest eco-friendly hoax most brands are using to label themselves as eco-conscious.
In the beginning, totes were excellent alternatives to plastic bags and packaging. But in the long run, it has created a new problem. Their popularity increased the demands, and subsequently, the water-intensive production needs.
Plus, you cannot just put tote bags in compost bins, especially ones with prints. In an interview with the New York Times, Maxine Bedat, a director at the New Standard Institute, said that it is rare to see a “municipal compost that will accept textiles.” Christopher Stanev, the co-founder of textile recycling firm Evrnu, adds that printed totes are “extremely difficult to break down chemically.”
So, tote life? No thanks.
Instead of buying ready-made bags for your packaging, why not make your cloth bag? All you have to do is repurpose old textiles from your clothes.
Here is an excellent tutorial for you to follow:
Homemade organic packaging may not be as strong as the original plastics, but they work well. After all, only a few people reused these materials and instead ended up in the bins—and our oceans. Hence, why not opt for a more sustainable alternative with more minor environmental impacts for such a disposable essential?
Recycling Packaging Waste
As of writing, the United Nations reports that the digital retail industry is now a trillion-dollar industry after seeing a dramatic increase in sales. The problem is not every consumer knows how to responsibly dispose of their packaging waste, hence why many of it ends up where it is not supposed to be.
The gift-giving season is just around the corner. Without a doubt, you already have packages waiting to arrive. When they do, do not just throw the plastic wraps. Recycle them by following these tips:
Send it to recycling drop-offs
There are recycling centers for packaging waste all over the United States. If you do not know where here is a quick list:
- How2Recycle - has a list of retail stores, including Target, Walmart, Lidl, and Wegmans, where you can drop off used plastic films, wraps, and bags for recycling.
- Plastic Film Recycling - kickstarted the Wrap Recycling Action Program for plastic films, wraps, bags, and other flexible packaging. Find the nearest recycling location near you.
- Styro Recycle - Washington-based firm accepting the clean, label, and tape-free styrofoams or polystyrene foams at local drop-off centers. You can also send it straight to their company.
- TerraCycle - a company dedicated to waste reduction. Try their Zero Waste Box for your recycling needs.
If you also own a small business, you can reuse these materials for your packaging needs. There is no need to get new ones, plus you can guarantee the quality since you already have a firsthand customer experience. Or you can also use them as wrappers for future gifts.
Help a business or two by donating your packaging materials to local stores and artisans. Doing this will lessen the need to buy or produce new products that can have more environmental impacts.
Ditch the Plastic, Go Natural
Currently, there are 5.25 trillion macro and microplastics in the ocean, and animals are not the only ones suffering. Plastics in the sea are also a headache to people, especially surfers.
Anyone can avoid macro plastic, but it is hard to avoid microplastics, which are about 5-millimeter-long (or smaller) pieces of plastic according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They are so tiny, even filtration mechanisms in sewers cannot screen them. Hence, they can end up inside a surfer’s body through the mouth, nose, and eyes.
There are several harmful additives within a plastic bag and more on synthetic packaging. The best way to reduce the number of plastics in the oceans is to opt for more sustainable options, like using organic packaging or reusing the ones you already have.
Also, for textiles, avoid synthetic materials. We know that it sounds more durable, and they are—even Mother Nature cannot wear them out.
Join America Recycles Day on November 15, 2021, by recycling your on-hand plastic packaging. You can also support businesses, like Wave Tribe, selling products from recycled materials. For your surfing needs, Wave Tribe has eco-friendly surfboards, hemp bags, and eco leash from processing worn-out plastics.
While you are at it, why not help us Heal The Oceans and reach out to a local partner near you?
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