Regular readers of my blog will know that the environment and climate change are passions of mine, along with challenging gender stereotypes. So it’s no surprise that we deliberately use plastic-free packaging for our products. Our postal bags are made from paper (and surprisingly robust!), and we use tissue paper rather than plastic bags to wrap our clothes.
Cutting back on plastic is an honourable goal. Plastic is a pollutant; it doesn’t decompose, it poses a hazard to wildlife – both on land and in the water, and it contributes to the continued mining and drilling for oil to produce it, depleting our natural resources and polluting the environment in the process.
However, it’s very durable, it’s cheap to produce and light to transport (heavy items use more fuel to transport) and it can be recycled (some types can, anyway). By contrast, paper is more energy intensive to manufacture and, whilst it can be recycled, is it also very energy intensive to do so. When people first switched from paper bags to plastic ones, they were promoted as being more eco-friendly as trees weren't being cut down to make them! On the plus side, it will decompose and therefore poses less of a risk to the natural environment.
So it really is a mixed bag! (pun intended)
I’ve written before about not demonising plastic. Sometimes it is the lesser evil, as unpalatable as that sounds. Single use anything, not just plastic, can be just as problematic, if not more so in some circumstances. It’s important to look at the whole lifecycle of items, including the raw materials, the manufacturing process and the recycling/ re-use potential.
So, back to our packaging bags. Whilst I currently use paper bags, I’m still looking for alternatives and if I find something I think is better, I will change. I’m aware there are compostable plastic bags, or starch bag alternatives, but I’m not convinced these are any better and I don’t want to fall for greenwashing. If you have any great suggestions – please let me know! But for now, please re-use our packaging as many times as you can.