Reuse recycle reduce...
Plastic free July was an initiative challenging us all to reduce single use plastics and a challenge it was! We spent much of the month mulling over just how integral plastic is to our everyday lives. It turns up in all sorts of surprising places – take tea bags for example, many tea brands use polypropylene, a sealing plastic, to keep their tea bags together. And glitter! Glitter is micro-plastic! Glitterbugs around the world drop their jaws in amazement!
Plastic isn't going anywhere anytime soon and can deliver benefits such as reducing food waste (through increased shelf life due to plastic packaging) and reducing fuel consumption in transportation (by bringing down the weight of packaging). Reducing our plastic usage is an absolute must, that is for certain. Our shops are filled with examples of single use plastics that we could probably do without. Whether it's reusable shopping bags, carrying a water bottle or avoiding straws, more and more of us are challenging the way we think about packaging and big brands and the government are slowly responding to this. But as much as this aspiration is positive there is equal, dare we say more value in us properly recycling the plastic we already use, and even more in our governments figuring out how to efficiently recycle as much of the plastic currently in use as possible.
Take Care of Nature and Let Nature Take Care of You
PureRooted is a brand with a social conscience driven by our mantra: Take Care of Nature and Let Nature Take care of you. Pictures and videos of our seas and their animals being choked by plastic bags, bottles and other accoutrements show us in very stark light that we aren’t doing a very good job of taking care of nature at all. In fact, taking care of our oceans should be a big priority considering they make up a huge 70% of our planet. As it stands, if changes aren’t made “…our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050…” as reported by the UNEP.Yet at the same time we learn that only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling and only 2% of this actually gets fully recycled, closing the loop of production. 2%! This is due to all sorts of issues, from households not washing out the items that go in their recycling bags and thereby ‘contaminating’ whole bags of recycling, to recycling sorting machines that are unable to recognise black plastic so all that black plastic going to landfill instead. With China now rejecting landfill rubbish from around the world and landfills, in the UK at least, at capacity the need to find alternatives for the millions of tonnes of plastic that end up in landfill cannot be more stark.
9 out of 10 people in the UK said that they would recycle more if it were easier*. Indeed recycling can be an absolute minefield: what to recycle; how to do it; where to do it…The table below is a small aide for reminding us what all those recycling symbols actually mean!
Always wash away excess food on the items you are recycling thoroughly to avoid contaminating the load, and always check the advice of your local authority when recycling.
Increasing our individual recycling effort is one of the best everyday ways to reduce our carbon footprint and start to force an improvement in recycling rates around the world.
The Bioplastic Dilemma…
Bio plastics are being touted as a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastics. Whilst there are definite benefits to bio plastics, they cannot currently be treated as the panacea we were all hoping for.
Bio plastics appear to work best for single use packaging, particularly food products. It was also interesting to learn that although bioplastics make up less than 1% of the synthetic plastics produced globally each year, serious land use issues arise whereby land that should be used to produce food for the world’s ever growing population is used instead for the industrial production of crops for bioplastics. In addition, some bioplastics can only be industrially composted - so throwing them in your compost bin isn’t always the best option. They are not even able to be recycled traditionally, as the different composition of these plastics (compared to more common ones – such as PET) can contaminate recycling loads – resulting in them being sent to landfill!
Nevertheless, research in the area of sustainable materials continues to rise and yield benefits and we will hopefully one day break our reliance on plastic altogether. In the meantime, ensuring that your plastics are recycled is the best way to help the environment.
PureRooted and plastic...
Big brands are able to and have a duty to put money towards research and manufacture of more sustainable materials for their packaging. And we see them slowly starting to do this…brands like L’Oreal, Ecover and Bull Dog have recently made such commitments. Until such materials become widely available however the impact will not be fast enough to reverse the currently dire situation. Encouraging recycling is the most immediately effective thing we can do.
As a small start-up beauty brand, which cares deeply about sustainability, it was disappointing to learn how limited we are in choice with respect to sustainable packaging. The bioplastics we came across were generally for single use and highly unsuitable for our moringa oils and balms. Still, we are committed to keeping the materials we use as eco-friendly as possible, whilst taking customer needs into consideration. We explain our packaging decisions below:
For our 100ml Moringa Oil bottles we use PET plastic, its lightweight (like moringa oil itself) so perfect for home storage and travel. Not only that, but moringa oil’s versatility allows you carry less in your toiletries bag.PET plastic is hygienic, secure, durable and shatter resistant; however, it is not designed to last forever. We would recommend washing thoroughly if planning to re-use and if not, make sure to recycle. One recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours.
AluminiumPureRooted uses aluminium tins for our moisturising Moringa Balms. This lightweight material makes carrying your moringa balm around a breeze – it slips easily into your bag or even your back pocket, so you can nourish your skin on the go! Aluminium is the most efficiently recycled out of all three materials and we also love that these tins can be creatively re-used. One recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television of three hours.
As we grow, we pledge to keep sustainable packaging at the forefront of our minds and make changes when necessary.
Together, as businesses and consumers, we can make a difference to our planet. It’s down to us to make important decisions regarding the materials we use and to also be more proactive when it comes to reusing and recycling.