Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July started yesterday, and we signed up as a business (and individual/family). The goal of Plastic Free July is to refuse single use plastic. On a business level this can be quite a challenge when trying to source products and maintain inventory of supplies. One of our biggest frustrations as a business is receiving packages that are needlessly packaged in bubble wrap or sealed with plastic tape. We use paper tape from Uline for our outbound boxes. This kind of tape is usually offered with an expensive dispenser that has a place for water and a sponge.  It is really not necessary.  All you need is your fingers and a small dish with water.

 At this time our main vendors (oils, essential oils, clays, containers, herbs) do not use styrofoam or bubble wrap.  We pick up paper bulk bags of flax locally.  When we do receive bubble wrap or styrofoam we pass it on to a pack and ship company up the road to reuse. Sometimes our regular vendors run out of things we need.  In that case we do our best to work with new or back up vendors to restock. In those cases even if you have a good habit of asking for plastic free shipping materials, it is easy to forget to ask vendors not to include product samples that contain plastic. There are well meaning cooperative vendors who will agree to ship without plastic, but when shipping time comes they may forget. When we get boxes from the US postal service they are bundled in plastic. Our biggest plastic faux pax was the
'inheritance' of bottles from another company that was going out of business. After being offered and asking for the metal or glass bottles, we paid the shipping, and ended up with a huge box full of plastic PET bottles. This is why we still have massage oils in plastic bottles. When those run out, we will be purchasing glass or aluminum containers.

Many large companies refuse to ship with anything other than bubble wrap or styrofoam. This is insanely frustrating, and I think that it is very important that customers and individuals contact companies to ask them to cut back on plastic and styrofoam. For example, did you know that Ebay recommends bubble wrap packaging to every seller?  2013 Ebay revenues were at 7.4 billion dollars with 128 million active users. That is a lot of plastic waste if every seller follows their suggestion! This is a heavy ecological footprint, especially considering that many products do not need this level of protection during shipping. There are other more ecofriendly packaging options such as paper mailers, newspaper, kraft wadding. Please sign our
petition on to Ebay to make suggestions other than bubble wrap for securely shipping products.  We have had this survey up for quite a while, but have hardly any signers, even though a lot of plastic free folks retweet the petition for us, star it on twitter, etc. 

Having had experience trying to run a business with minimal plastic for some time now, we don't expect to have a perfect Plastic Free July. However, we are happy to have an opportunity to tally our plastic use and average it over a year, and to learn from other businesses who try to use minimal single-use plastic. 

As an individual, my biggest frustration with avoiding plastic is that so much of the Organic and non-GMO foods are available only with extra plastic packaging. When we try to do everything just right with shopping to avoid plastic, there are always frustrations.  When the Organic bananas are taped in plastic and the Organic carrots are bagged in plastic, there is no single
ecofriendly purchasing choice. We have 5 raised beds for vegetables and herbs, plus 2 hens, but it is not enough to do more than supplement our basic needs.

Cory Trusty, president
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