by Kenneth McCall
The next time you are packing up your winter clothes or holiday dishes to put into storage, take a second and think about the environmental implications of which packaging materials you choose to use. Unfortunately, the most popular packaging materials used also tend to be the least environmentally friendly. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts take hundreds of years to decompose. Plastic bags also take thousands of years to decompose, contaminating the ocean and harming marine life. On the bright side, today there are more and more biodegradable alternatives available on the market that will not only help the environment, but also help your health.
Eco-Friendly Bubble Wrap
Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
Biodegradable Plastic Bags
Bubble wrap has been around since the 1960s and is today a multi-billion dollar industry. However, at the same time, these thousands of miles of bubble wrap that have been produced have caused significant damage to our environment. Bubble wrap is made from polyethylene, which takes hundreds of years to break down. However, nowadays, biodegradable bubble wrap is available on the market as a safer alternative. This type of bubble wrap has the same strength and cushioning properties as regular bubble wrap. However, biodegradable bubble wrap will decompose when exposed to sunlight, heat, pressure, and water. Furthermore, this alternative is nontoxic and will not cause any harm to any living species, including humans, animals, and even plants.
Regular packing peanuts are made from polystyrene through environmentally costly processes. Fortunately, today a friendlier alternative is available - biodegradable packing peanuts. These packing peanuts are made from cornstarch and are nontoxic. In fact, there are numerous websites online that offer recipes for making your own cornstarch-based packing peanuts right in your own kitchen. Furthermore, when you are done using them, simply dissolve them in water! Regular packing peanuts also tend to form a small amount of static electricity- these biodegradable packing peanuts are significantly less static, making them a better option for packing up your electronics.
Mycobond is an environmentally friendly alternative to packing foam (also made from polystyrene) that is made from the vegetative parts of mushrooms. The makings of this packing material simply involves letting the mushrooms grow in a controlled environment. Compared to the manufacturing processes of packing foam, Mycobond only uses one tenth the carbon dioxide and one eighth the energy. Mycobond manufacturers are also currently figuring out ways to make the growth process into a simple kit that customers can order and then grow in their own kitchens.
Every minute, approximately one million plastic bags are used. Imagine how many of these have been used in the time it has taken you to read this article. Every single one of those bags can take as many as a thousand years to decompose. During this time, most of them float into the ocean, either suffocating marine life or entering the food chain through fish. This eventually has a negative impact on the health of all other living species. On the other hand, biodegradable plastic wrap can decompose in as little as ten days when put in a landfill. Although a bit pricier, these bags are designed to be used multiple times. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you may also end up saving some money in the long run.