I've been working super hard on my packaging recently. My goal is to have 100% sustainable and environmentally responsible packaging. I don't want to be responsible for bringing plastics into our physical world or retail chain but it's difficult sourcing alternatives.
I'm also trying to source sets/kits boxes that don't literally cost the earth! Since offering sets of paints & doughs, I have been sending them out in their single tubs/bottles.
This in itself is not necessarily an issue - minimal packaging is great, but I am not sure that the world is ready to receive everything as singles.
For example, when you buy a multipack of crisps..it doesn't say 'just take 6 single packets' and it gets sorted at the till. Things are still packaged up in their teams for you to grab and go.
Other Shops and manufacturers are waking up to their responsibilities. Charlotte's Cupboard are offering food goods in their raw form, you just come with your jars and bags and so on and fill them up and pay for what you take.
I am looking to do something similar with my Scented Paints, super bright Rainbow Rice and Counting Beans. Enabling people to go to FairKind Child in Horsham (www.fairkindchild.co.uk) with their jars and fill them with their goods. It saves them money too!
There are packaging companies out there who provide boxes, pots and bottles sold as "Eco Friendly"..and believe me it's easy to spend 5 hours an evening reading through what they mean by "Eco", before determining it doesn't meet your criteria! Currently there is no legal definition for being "Eco Friendly".
Wood, Card, Boxes, Plant Foods
Anything that comes from a plant, or tree has these criterias they can meet
Deforestation and Loss of habitat vs Sustainable
This is where some plants - such as those used for Palm oil - are harvested where they have been growing 'wild' in their native area. This means that they have provided food and lodgings to a variety of animals, like the Orangutangs. Look for the FSC mark, which shows that the source is sustainable e.g. can be harvested again and again from the same source as it is replenished.
All our card and paper packaging is made from 100% recycled (second hand) materials and can also be recycled.
The term Organic is legally defined by the EU for foods (more on this here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/organic-food-labelling-rules)
You can also look for the OSA logo!
More here: https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-standards/
Pesticides contriubute to 'dead zones' in our oceans, where no coral or sealife can survive. It also gets in to our food chain - particularly the 'dirty dozen' where foods like berries absorb the pesticides readily.
Organic foods are not only pesticide free - but quite often provided in a state as close to their original as possible. For example, Organic cornflour is not heat treated like it's standard counterpart. This means the organic cornflour behaves much differently to the standard one, and cannot be used in the same way. This is why we cannot use Organic Cornflour in our recipes.
We do however use Organic Soil Association Certified Cocoa Butter, and Organic and sustainable Carnauba Wax in ALL our crayons. Our natural pigments are Organic where possible, including our Fairtrade Indigo from India. It's wonderful! The crayons we make using it can be found here:
There has been a lot of talk about plastics in the news. Lightweight plastics such as carrier bags and film can be carried by the wind and find themselves in our oceans and can kill wildlife.
But what are plastics and how are they made? Believe it or not, plastics are sourced from natural materials! Cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and crude oil can all make plastic through a polymerisation or polycondensation process. Most of these natural materials have taken millions of years to be created. This is why they are called fossil fuels. These are not sustainable as they can be depleted and never replaced in our lifetime.
2 types of plastics are possible, those that can be melted back down, and those that cannot.
The problem with these, is that they take almost forever to break down and so if we don't recycle them, where do they go? Landfill and the ocean! Nappies are made from plastics..there are. plastics everywhere!
Understanding your plastics is key.
We should try to avoid a) non recyclable, single use plastics like films..then try to avoid virgin plastics, and finally always recycle plastic!
Recyclable plastics include PET and HDPE. Visit your local government's website for more information (Mine is here: http://www.recycleforwestsussex.org/home-recycling/your-kerbside-collection/plastics/)
In some areas, the facilities are not readily available to recycle, and an extra effort must be made on our part to ensure they are washed, and placed into a recycling centre. Any food left in the plastic contaminates the batch. It's best if you keep a seperate bin for recycling food, then this can be sent to a recycling centre (or via a green bin if available) and made into compost. Or you can donate it to your local allotment.
All our plastics are recyclable, and can be thrown into your recycling bins. If you ship them back to us to fill up, you get 5% off your order using the code "ECO5"
More on knowing what can and can't be recycled here:
Don't forget that even recycling uses energy (therefore releases carbon) and should be used as a last resort. The trick here is to avoid 'waste' wherever possible.
A new type of plastic - PLA or BioPlastic - is now available which utilises the starch in corn and other plants, and through the same plastic processing creates a new plastic which can be composted. It does need to go to a commercial composter to breakdown. Or at least a domestic composter. If you don't have one, then you could again put it in a green waste bin, or donate it to an allotment. All of this may again require special effort on our part. If PLA is thrown into the recycling bins, again it contaminates the whole batch. In landfill PLA can take years to break down, although this is much better than the plastics we have been used to. Apparently if Henry VIII wore nappies they would still be around today!
PLA is difficult to source. I have only found it available in bottle form when purchasing in the thousands. This is due to demand not being so high, so it's made to order. There are PLA versions of food packaging which are more popular and more readily available.
Some groups feel PLA is part of the problem and not the solution. I'd like to think that the solution does not depend on the consumer's method of disposal but can independently be environmentally friendly regardless - however this currently does not exist! Although anything that biodegrades - even eventually - AND can be recycled is brilliant as if it isn't recycled it doesn't take up space for long, and if it is recycled it is reused.
Metals and Glass
Aluminium Foil can be recycled but not if it is lined wth plastic like in pet food pouches (try scrunching it in your hand, if it bouces back it's lined!). Drinks, deodorant cans and more can be recycled! Metal cans can be reused in a variety of creative ways!
Glass is recyclable also.
Again check local information:
When we burn fossil fuels it releases carbon. This is because carbon is a vital element of life, and trees, humans and all life forms contain carbon. The millions of years of trees and animals compressed into minerals that created our fossil fuels have compacted carbon into it, which is released on burning. Humans are upsetting the natural balance of carbon.
Using renewable energy can help us all (wind, water sourced) and you can find suppliers online for domestic use. Some use 100% renewable, and some a mix. It is more expensive, but again as demand increases, in line with this should be reduced costs. Our vehicles will change over time also.
**A note about 'chemicals'**
I thought I would add a note here on chemicals. Of course chemicals include things such as water and oxygen, but often the term is used to mean a man-made substance that is harmful to the environment and ourselves. More often than not it is the dose that is the issue as there are a number of natural substances that are harmful to us in great numbers but are around us all the time (e.g. formaldehyde naturally occurs in pears and radiation is in the environment...but although it's natural..I wouldn't want to bathe in it whilst listening to whale song).
A lot of the cleaning substances don't biodegrade. They sit in the environment in their cleaning form doing harm to natural bacterias and our eco system.
They can be replaced with environmentaly friendly ones. It may mean more scrubbing but it's so worth it. I use Ecover for washing out all my kitchen machines. I get through a lot of it, so it's important that I use something that would biodegrade in the environment without harm. Some substances only biodegrade in soil and some in water.
We can't make all of these changes immediately. Making small changes a bit at a time will make a difference. I am moving premises soon into a property where I can be more self sufficient - including energy sources. In short the advice here is:
Reuse, Recycle, use energy wisely and efficiently, use biodegradable where possible and Compost! Good luck! <3
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