We’ve gone a long way in creating alternative packaging to the usual plastic as we attempt to undo the environmental damage we’ve caused due to our obsession with single-use plastics.
1. Aluminium Water Bottles
These custom reusable water bottles eliminate the need for plastic bottles as they make use of aluminium material instead. Aluminium is much better for our health and for our environment as the material is completely recyclable, durable, and does not contain any chemicals that may be harmful to our health.
While aluminium cans exist, mostly for soft drinks and juices, these are usually lined with BPA plastics and resin to prevent the acid from sodas corroding the metal. However, these aluminium cans defeat the purpose of aluminium as a sustainable material. Instead, reach for aluminium bottles that are purely made from aluminium to ensure these are recyclable.
Aluminium bottles are also customizable in a myriad of different designs and textures, allowing for a wider variety of ways to show off your creativity than you could with plastic bottles. These designs are etched out during the recycling process, and the pure aluminium can be made into a new bottle in as little as 60 days!
2. Soy Wax Cling Wrap
Beeswax cling wraps have been around for decades, but have been widely used again during the past few years as an alternative to sandwich wraps and cling wrap. However, beeswax is not a sustainable material as it strips off the wax structures from beehives, harming bees in the process.
Instead, go for soy wax which is a sub-product made from the processing of soybeans. Soybeans are sustainable, as they are ready for harvesting in just 100 days, compared to the 300 days it takes for bees to build a sizable hive. Soy wax cling wraps are food safe, and can be bought or made the DIY way.
3. Reusable Bamboo Straws
As much as we would like to eliminate straws altogether, there are conditions and instances wherein people will need to use non-thermally conductive straws. However, one metal straw produces more than 200 times the amount of carbon dioxide as compared to plastic straws.
You would need to use your metal straw at least 250 times to break even the environmental impact of producing it. Glass straws break, paper straws disintegrate, and silicone harbours bacteria. The best alternative would be to go back to the basics: Bamboo Straws. The first straws were made from bamboo, which were sustainable, waterproof, and biodegradable.
4. Bamboo Cloth Bags
Back to our good friend the bamboo, cloth bags are now slowly replacing plastic produce bags in the supermarket. Bamboo is a sustainable material as the grass grows fast with very little maintenance, and produces wood-like fibers that are durable and water resistant.
Bamboo cloth bags are also used in carrying supplies, as grocery bags, and for storing items. The bags can be washed and dried multiple times without wear and tear, as the material can withstand everyday usage. Bamboo bags are also better for your health, as they don’t leach microplastics into your environment.
5. Edible Wheat Cutlery
In India, 120 billion single-use plastic spoons and forks are thrown away every year, which is why a couple in India created edible wheat cutlery that is currently being produced today. These spoons and forks are tasty, flavoured utensils made from Jowar flour, wheat, and water.
Since then, multiple companies have followed suit and created their own versions of edible cutlery for mass production. More often than not, the base ingredients for these edible utensils are made from byproducts left over from food production. The utensils stay firm even when in hot soup, and can be eaten after use, or thrown to biodegrade in just a few days.
6. Sugarcane Takeout Boxes
Barley, wheat, and sugarcane have been used to make disposable takeout boxes that are sanitary, hold food well, and biodegrade in a few days once disposed of. Most of these takeout boxes are made from the leftover raw materials from processing sugarcane, which makes them sustainable and waste-free.
While sugarcane takeout containers are slightly more expensive than plastic, their widespread use is quickly turning the material into a staple in food and drink packaging, driving down costs of production and increasing its usage in the food industry.
Food for Thought
What are your thoughts? Do you think alternative packaging has a future in our consumer-centric economy? Whether you believe in green packaging or not, you can’t deny that our efforts in creating alternatives to plastic are getting more and more innovative.
So the next time you think about grabbing a plastic water bottle for the road, or using plastic straws to garnish your cocktails, keep in mind that there are better alternatives that won’t harm you or the environment: like aluminium bottles and bamboo.