Here in Aotearoa (New Zealand), we have a reputation for being clean, green and environmentally friendly. In general, most Kiwis do take care of their surroundings and make an effort to avoid pollution.
However, it can be quite difficult to look after the planet when so many retail items are covered in unsustainable, single-use plastic packaging.
“The average New Zealander uses about 32 kilograms of plastic packaging each year”
In this article, we take a look at the current situation when it comes to retail packaging, ways that we can all reduce our environmental impact through intentionally choosing products that use less plastic and what we (Eco Warehouse) are doing to help.
As of July 1st, 2019, “single use plastic shopping bags with handles that are made of plastic up to 70 microns in thickness” have been banned in retail stores throughout New Zealand.
Whilst this definitely goes a long way towards reducing consumer waste and encourages us to shop more sustainably, completely avoiding single-use plastics is still a challenge at the best of times.
If you think about how many products on supermarket shelves are covered in disposable plastic packaging, the amount of waste that we continue to produce becomes quite clear.
Plastic packaging is often viewed as a dirty topic for companies that make retail products. Thanks to the consumer pressure to reduce plastic usage, we are starting to see suppliers shift to more sustainable alternatives.
During the process of developing and improving products, it is important for brands to consider the entire life cycle of their creations. Rather than simply making things that people will buy, it is more important now than ever before that we think about where these products end up after they have been used.
Companies that supply our supermarkets and other retail stores are making efforts to shift towards sustainable packaging for the most part. However, there is much more that can still be done.
We have seen a range of new brands that are committed to sustainability emerge in recent years, and gain significant market traction as a result of their environmental values.
For example, Ethique is a Kiwi company that creates solid shampoo and body bars free from plastic packaging (and have prevented over 4.3 million plastic bottles from being made as a result).
There are a wide range of ways that established brands can reduce their plastic consumption. Of course, it is not always as simple as just swapping one material for another, as there are often dedicated factories and entire supply chains that need to be redesigned to change things around.
When you’re dealing with economies of scale, these changes take time and investment - but the potential rewards of doing so are enormous.
Here are a couple of ways that established brands and suppliers are changing:
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” - Anna Lappé
Here are eight ways that you can reduce the amount of packaging and waste that you create:
Imagine what our world would look like if everyone valued sustainable packaging, and made this a conscious factor in their buying decisions…
Here at Eco Warehouse, we are dedicated to living by our promises and operating our business in an environmentally friendly manner. In practice, this means sourcing environmentally-conscious household items that meet our strict selection criteria (check out our homepage for a detailed breakdown of our criteria) and packaging your orders in recyclable cardboard boxes that are secured with compostable kraft paper tape. We use 100% recycled paper for padding, instead of bubble wrap.
In our personal lives, we take active measures to avoid plastic waste. Here are a few things that we do to be more sustainable:
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”
The collective result of our packaging consumption decisions has led us to the situation that we are now facing. However, in the same way that our actions have created this problem over the last few generations, our actions also have the power to solve it.