If there was one thing you could do to make your business green this year, it might be to eliminate plastic packaging. Whether we're talking about a clamshell that conforms and protects the product, some "popcorn" that you pack it in or the bag you send it home in, we all know we have too much plastic floating around our world.
We use billions of plastic bags, bottles and other debris that end up in landfills or in the ocean. We've all seen reports on the news about this problem. We've read of the problems caused by unrecycled plastics (and the vast majority of it goes unreclaimed) that logically, we can't defend ourselves against the accusations of waste.
Plastic is made of chemicals, often utilizing petroleum products in its manufacture. It's not biodegradable. The plastics in the ocean form debris fields, known as "gyres. Anna Cumins co-founded "5 Gyres Institute" to study solutions to the situation, and says plastics are a problem, "In the marine environment because plastics are designed to last forever. They don't break down, they can't be digested by marine organisms" and they persist in the ocean for thousands of years." Think about your future "ocean views," and the image forming is a bit depressing.
Until we can find a solution (biodegradable, non-petroleum-based, low-carbon packaging and other convenience products?) we're contributing to it daily. So what can we do? Use less.
Here at Green Business Alliance, we want you to succeed and we know that reasonably, we can't demand you change, but we can ask you to alter your practices. If your product goes out in a clamshell, look for smaller clams on your next order. Use less plastic, while keeping an eye out for alternative packaging in the future.
Sending your product out with popcorn packing? Consider the lowly bag of air packed around many items currently. Or can you help recycle newspaper by packing it around some items? (Put up a sign asking for donated newspapers to recycle and see if that doesn't bring in a few new customers!)
And when your customer buys a product, wrap it up to go in… nothing. It's alright to send items home with the sales receipt and a grateful smile. We've proven that customers will pay more for "green" products and packaging. Think how grateful they'll be to not pay more.
We may not have the solution to our plastic world yet, but we'll find it. And until we do, we can Greenify by slowing down plastics consumption piece by piece.