Plastic is durable and flexible, but it is made from heated carbon and other materials that are not good for the environment. Most noteworthy, It is non-biodegradable and cannot be recycled as well. Plastic is undoubtedly most popular synthetic non-biodegradable material present in most of the things around you. In a previous article we talked about glitters and how dangerous they are to the environment as they takes hundreds of years to break down. Whether it is your car, your mobile phone, the computer or even your furniture, life without plastic seems unimaginable! Although plastic it has quickly become a staple in our everyday lives, there are eco friendly alternatives to plastic packaging that we can use to at least lessen its negative impact on Mother Earth.
Alternatives to plastic packaging
The first alternative to plastic packaging is glass. It is made from sand, that can be replenished. A long time back, most of the bottles were made from glass. From milk bottles to baby feeders, all were made from glass. However, with the changing times, glass has given way to plastic due to its sturdy and lightweight qualities. However, a collective effort must be made to realize the harms that we are causing ourselves by living with toxic plastic around us. On the other hand, glass is a non-toxic material that can be recycled. It is susceptible to breakage but is nevertheless worth the damages.
2. Reusable Shopping bags
Most supermarkets offer plastic bag alternatives today. Some of it have patterns and some reusable packaging are printed with the establishment’s name. These reusable bags come in canvas, cotton, hemp, leather, fiber, and woven plastic. For example, the nylon ones can be folded up into a pouch and small enough to suit in your pocket. Above all, the good point about avoiding plastic bags is you don’t have much to accumulate and stock in your cupboards.
3. Liquid Wood
Another eco friendly alternative to plastic packaging is the liquid wool. It is one of the byproducts of paper mills. It holds a great future for being the new biopolymer or bioplastic. If you feel the material created by liquid wood, then you wouldn’t notice a difference between the two and the only major difference being that liquid wood is 100% biodegradable. In order to make biopolymers, you would need to mix lignin (a byproduct of paper mills) with water and then expose it to a high pressure and temperature to produce a composite material that can easily be molded just like plastic.
4. PHB Biocomposites
PHB biocomposite is a material that consists of bacteria. It is gradually emerging as the new and perfect biodegradable foil. This material is basically the better version of PHM (polyhydroxybutyrate) which is a final product of the natural fermentation of various kinds of bacteria. It has a close resemblance to the man-made synthetic polypropylene. Furthermore, this biodegradable material is less flexible than plastic, however, it has a great scope in biomedical, packaging and agricultural industries.
5. Edible six-pack ring
Saltwater Brewery in America have developed a material for their six-pack rings which is not only biodegradable and compostable, but also edible. The rings, made from wheat and barley waste, are natural by products of the beer-making process. animals that may come into contact with the refuse can safely eat this packaging.
6. Stone paper
Another alternatives to plastic packaging is the stone paper. It is a term that describes a number of different formulas for making paper that have one key ingredient in common: calcium carbonate (waste stone rock, marble and tiles) rather than tree fibre. It is durable, oil and tear resistant, and waterproof which makes it perfect for packaging. However, it is noticeably heavier than traditional paper.
7. Mushroom based material
Packaging made from mycelium, a mushroom root can now replace the Plastic packaging. The fibers in the mushroom bind agricultural waste into an alternative kind of foam. Agricultural waste products such as rice hulls, cotton hulls or wheat chaff are placed in a mold and then injected with mushroom spawn. About a week later, the mushroom root has completed its growth using the agricultural waste as an energy source. The final product looks like foam and acts like foam without being as harmful for the environment as foam.
Furthermore, among the alternatives to plastic packaging there is the Bagasse. It is a by-product of sugarcane processing. Due to its malleability and stickiness, it can be easily moulded into packaging suitable for food delivery and food service – similar to polystyrene. Unlike polystyrene, it’s certified biodegradable and compostable, and being a by-product, much more sustainable to produce.
To conclude, plastics is one of the biggest challenges the world is facing right now. Consumers are increasingly aware of the damage that plastic has to our environment. In fact, many companies have already limited the use of plastic. For example, in London the First Plastic Free Supermarket opened.
From today onwards, next time you go shopping try to avoid the use of plastic in order to protect the environment.
Written by Sabrina Licata from Attitude Organic