Last year I was lucky enough to win a beautiful set of eco-friendly bamboo party ware from Friendlypak in New Zealand. This substantial set arrived packed in their own compostable product - popstarch. By the faint fragrance, this is made of potato starch like their compostable trays and bowls. I've been happily reusing this packaging in my own boxes.
FriendlyPak specialises in compostable containers - stores and food providers can use these instead of plastic (which often goes unrecycled due to food contamination). They even have shopping and dog waste bags! And how cool is it that they link to The Story of Stuff on their website?
Basic scary facts on packaging waste:
- US Waste Facts - "Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times."
- European Packaging Waste "On average every citizen in the 27 Member States EU-27 generated 164 kg of packaging waste in 2008."
- NZ Packaging Waste "Each New Zealander throws away 83 kilograms of used packaging every year."
If we continue to ignore packaging waste, we're going to be up to our necks in it.
Packaging choices under pressure
I don't run a store. But I could use reusable packaging like the lunch wraps from 4MyEarth. I have already chosen waxed paper (which can even be reused for a few days) over plastic wrap for the kids' sandwiches. I need to do some more research on reusable vs compostable.
One New Zealand survey shows that consumers are concerned about too much packaging but feel ill-informed to act on that concern.
Another study takes a hard look at the eco-friendly claims for various types of packaging - there's lots to learn here even for those of us who might think we're already savvy.
Counting the cost
This packaging discussion finds that cost is still the biggest factor when people choose disposable packaging over more eco-friendly choices. They also point out that as waste pressures rise, the real cost of waste disposal will motivate more consumers to choose better packaging.
In Auckland, the Waste Management and Minimisation Plan includes charging us each time our bin is emptied instead of (as present) a flat cost each year. As a pretty good waste minimiser already, I'm a fan!
And, of course, the more we support these eco-friendly industries, the cheaper their products will be.
So here is my public thank you to FriendlyPak for this prize, and also my heartfelt message to FriendlyPak, 4MyEarth and companies like them:
Thank you for providing us with genuine green consumer choices. Thank you for developing products to support the vision of a thriving green economy. Thank you for helping us put our money where our mouth is instead of into the same old poisonous products.
As a minimalist, I still had a serious decision to make. These bowls and trays are beautiful, but I already have a set of functional and attractive party bowls. The prize bowls also needed a home. In the rush of the holiday season, they simply sat in a stack on the downstairs sofa.
So was their home in my home or someone else's?
Stay tuned to hear all about Workout #4 in Productive New Year's Workouts, and how it all eventually worked out.
Everyone's doing it - what's your best tip to reduce your waste footprint?