At Ecoslay, we are committed to reducing our environmental impact by shifting our packaging philosophy from single-use plastic to refillable mason jars and pouches. This decision has been a long time in the making, and we want to share the reasons behind this change with you. While we acknowledge that our new packaging transition is not perfect, we believe in the importance of taking intentional steps towards a more sustainable future. By observing trajectories and continuously improving, we strive to make a positive impact on the environment. Join us on this journey as we work towards a greener and more eco-friendly approach to packaging.
So, in this blog post, we'll discuss the good stuff about plastics (Yes, there is a lot of good!), the bad stuff (saddle in, cause it's pretty terrible), some easy things that we all can do to help and finally, what Ecoslay is doing as well. Let's get started!
The Good Stuff
Plastic is a versatile material that offers many practical benefits, such as being lightweight, durable, non-reactive, waterproof, and affordable. It has become an integral part of our daily lives, and even those who strive to reduce their plastic consumption still encounter it regularly. While plastic itself is not inherently bad, its environmental impact and issues surrounding waste management and pollution are major concerns.
While it is important to address the environmental concerns associated with plastic waste, it is equally important to acknowledge the vital role that packaging plays in ensuring food safety, and reducing food waste. It helps maintain the freshness, quality, and safety of food products by preventing spoilage, contamination, and damage from pests and diseases. Plastic packaging can significantly extend the shelf life of perishable goods, reducing food waste and promoting sustainability.
Research has shown that when considering the environmental impact of packaging, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, water usage, and resource depletion, plastic packaging often has a net positive effect compared to the potential environmental impacts of food waste that would occur without packaging.
I also found the emissions stats concerning plastic production quite enlightening. It turns out that plastic production has significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and fertilizer inputs than alternatives such as paper, aluminum, cotton or glass. To bring this point home, a grocery bag would have to be reused 5 times to have as low an environmental impact as a standard LDPE (Low-density polyethylene) single-use plastic bag. Likewise, an organic cotton bag would have to be reused 149 times to equal a LDPE’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 20,000 when impacts such as eutrophication, water and ecosystem impacts are included.
Plastic has transformed healthcare with infection-resistant properties, enhancing patient safety. It is lightweight, durable, and flexible, making it ideal for medical devices and implants. Plastic is hypoallergenic, reducing skin irritation and improving comfort. It accelerates research, eliminates restarts, and aids accurate diagnoses with medical imaging. Plastic packaging preserves food, reduces waste, and ensures safety. Balancing benefits with sustainability is crucial. Plastic in healthcare improves patient outcomes and offers alternatives for allergies. Sustainable practices contribute to an environmentally conscious future.
The Bad Stuff
Plastic waste is a significant environmental concern due to its non-biodegradable nature. It takes approximately 700 years to degrade, breaking down into harmful microplastics. These microplastics contaminate water sources and pose risks to human and animal health.
While recycling is preferable to landfilling, only around 25 percent of plastic is recycled. Recycling facilities face challenges with low-quality materials and contamination. The outsourcing of recycling to other countries has also become problematic, as many countries are now refusing to accept Western recycling.
To address the plastic waste crisis, it's crucial to improve recycling infrastructure and find sustainable solutions for plastic disposal.
Plastic recycling faces hurdles due to the reception of low-quality, contaminated materials that require sorting before processing. To cope with the cost, Western countries, including the United States, have outsourced recycling to China. However, since China's 2018 ban on contaminated recycling, the waste has been redirected to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Unfortunately, these countries are also becoming reluctant to accept Western recycling. This highlights the insufficient recycling infrastructure currently hindering effective solutions for plastic waste management.
As mentioned in "The Good" section, although air pollution isn't really a big deal in regards to the production of plastic, it certainly is in regards to incineration. Since the percentage of recycled plastics is so low, much ends up in the incinerator. According to the CIEL report, U.S. emissions from plastics incineration in 2015 were 5.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Based on projections from the World Energy Council, if plastics production and incineration increase as expected, greenhouse gas emissions will increase to 49 million metric tons by 2030 and 91 million metric tons by 2050. And to top it all off, incineration facilities are disproportionately built near communities of color and low-income populations. Claire Arkin, communications coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, aptly says, “The people who are subjected to the pollution from these incinerators often are the ones who are least responsible for the waste in the first place and have to bear the brunt of the impacts.”
What can we do?
Wha? Wait! Didn't you just say that it's pointless to recycle? No! Not at all! Recycling is definitely a better option than the landfill. And, even though the infrastructure isn't quite in place to handle it if we were all recycling, we're not even close to that yet! So, just take the time to clean your plastics before tossing them in the recycling bin - this is a good first step!
2. Wean yourself off disposable plastics.
Did you know that around 90% of the plastic items we use daily are single-use? From grocery bags to disposable cutlery, these products are used once and then discarded. Take a moment to reflect on how often you rely on these items and consider replacing them with reusable alternatives. By making the switch, you can significantly reduce your contribution to plastic waste. Opt for reusable grocery bags, eco-friendly wraps, durable cutlery, and say goodbye to disposable straws and coffee-cup lids. Small changes can make a big impact on our environment.
3. Stop buying water.
Nearly 20 billion plastic bottles are discarded each year! It's time to make a change. Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. If you're concerned about the quality of tap water in your area, opt for a reusable bottle with a built-in filter. By choosing to reuse instead of dispose, you can help reduce plastic waste and make a positive impact on the environment. Let's sip sustainably and work towards a greener future.
4. Opt out of plastic ware.
Food delivery apps often ask if you need cutlery with your delivery. Just say no! This is an easy way to make a difference.
We're doing our part
The decision to move away from our single-use plastic bottles was a tough one - It would've been far easier to stick with the status quo. But the more that we learned about the environmental impact that plastics were having and the speculation around how much worse things are expected to get, the more we were convinced that we had to make a change.
In a few weeks, we'll be transitioning from plastic bottles to eco-friendly kraft paper pouches. While these pouches are lined with a thin layer of PET plastic and nylon to prevent leaking, we acknowledge that it's not a perfect solution. However, the good news is that they are type #7 and can be recycled in most facilities (remember to clean them first!). If your recycling facility doesn't accept #7 items, don't worry! Our Recycling Program is still active, allowing you to return the pouches to us.
We're proud to share that our manufacturer is actively researching ways to eliminate plastic and nylon from the pouches. They're even working on a compostable spout for future versions. This transition will reduce our plastic use by a remarkable 80%, and we couldn't be happier about this significant step towards sustainability.
Join us in embracing these eco-friendly pouches as we strive for a greener future. Together, we can make a difference!
Our customers will have the option of purchasing reusable plastic mason jars and wide-mouth jars to dispense product into. But...why not glass?! Good question! We originally wanted to use glass instead of plastic but quickly realized that customers might drop the jars in the shower, causing injury. We felt that reusable plastic was a good trade-off here. The jars are made from #6 PS plastic - this is not the "bad" PS plastic (styrofoam) which can leach harmful toxins into the product inside. These rigid jars do not leach and also can be recycled easily.
We fully accept that this move is risky (we've only counted 7 hair care brands that have adopted similar packaging). There might be leaks, dispensing issues and challenges that we've not even imagined. Yet, we've researched until the wee hours of the night and mitigated all risks to the best of our abilities. We're excited to see how this change is embraced and so proud to be taking you all along with us on this journey.