My “Reduce Plastic Packaging” Challenge Part 1

I tend to take a lot of things personally. Such as when Obama was running for U.S. President against Mitt Romney and I knew if I didn’t volunteer for Obama’s campaign and he lost, it was my fault.

I attempt to do things to protect our planet. I have fruit trees, chickens, and plant vegetables in the summer. I also have a rain barrel to capture water and only water my property very sparingly. I collect kitchen scraps and make some very rich compost that I use on my trees.

I strongly practice the “reuse” approach in our home. No plastic bags get thrown own until they are completing and no longer usable.

Our biggest household waste comes from packaging.

I need to do something to help mitigate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean and as large as France. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.

I’m going to attempts to reduce my contribution of plastic trash, otherwise, the Patch will continue to get larger and it is my fault.

It’s a monstrous task when you look at how much of our lives are wrapped up in plastics of all types. To complicate matters, not all plastics are the same. Some actually will degrade and are truly recyclable. Others, not so much and lots in between. However, the bottom line is that all plastics are a hazard to our way of life and the problem just gets bigger and bigger.

Not all plastics are the same

We’re buried in plastic that we can’t get rid of and to top it off, it is all made from oil—a non-renewable resource that’s becoming increasingly expensive. Estimates show that 200,000 barrels of oil are used each day to make plastic packaging for the United States alone.

The first part of this campaign of mine is to understand the difference between the “environmentally friendly” plastics fall into three types:

• Bioplastics made from natural materials such as corn starch
• Biodegradable plastics made from traditional petrochemicals, which are engineered to break down more quickly
• Eco/recycled plastics, which are simply plastics made from recycled plastic materials rather than raw petrochemicals.

Wrap Rage

In case you missed it, there is a campaign against blister and clamshell packaging made from a process called thermoforming. This type of plastic, the type used to make blister packs for those tiny little tech items, such as a thumb drive, are the worst possible plastics. This product goes through a heating of rigid plastic into a softened state, then cooling it back into a rigid state, around a mold, with the use of a vacuum. This allows blister or clamshell packaging to be formed into virtually any shape. They are also a health hazard as trying to cut into the packages can cause serious cuts as the edges are razor sharp.

Most clamshell packages are made with PVC and PET, which contribute to a more environmentally wasteful lifestyle. PVC is a harmful plastic that it is difficult to break down, and PET can and should be replaced by recycled PET to reduce cost and waste.

There are numerous videos online with helpful hints on how to open these packages such as using a can opener along the edges with varying stages of success.

Amazon and Wrap Rage Solution and Frustration Free Packaging

Would you believe that someone is actually trying to do something constructive about plastic wrapping? Yes indeed. Amazon launched a “Frustration-Free Packaging,” campaign in 2008 and since helped eliminate 181,000 tons of packaging and 307 million boxes.

Ten years ago, Amazon introduced an invention designed to reduce waste and challenged their vendors to create an easy-to-open, 100% recyclable packaging. The Frustration-Free Packaging campaign attempts to ends customer “wrap rage” by removing plastic bindings, wire ties, and clamshell casings – making boxes simple to open. And it’s great for the environment because of products shipped in their original packaging, eliminating the need for an additional shipping box.

So, somethings can be done.

My next steps are to take note of all the things I buy and how I contribute to the “Plastic environment” and see what I can do to reduce my plastic habit. Not just reduce it, but also see how I can make changes to measurably reduce our household packaging waste.

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