| By Kristin Anderson
In today’s consumer society, packaging materials are found everywhere. Packaging materials are used for protection, to increase the freshness of goods, or simply for promotional purposes. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a product that comes without a wrapping. To most of us, this may not seem to be a problem. However, when you start to think about it, you realize that this overflow of, in many cases unnecessary packaging material is one of the biggest polluters to our earth. And as a result, companies and consumers often are, unintentionally, contributing to the pollution of our environment and global warming. After all, it’s no secret that we throw away millions of Kilograms of packaging materials every year .
Sure, we all understand that it’s impossible to get completely rid of all packaging materials. In some cases, we simply need wrappings to protect it from getting damaged or to pack multiple smaller items together. And luckily, not all packaging materials are bad for the environment. There are plenty of packagings out there such as aluminum bottles, plastic jars, glass bottles, and tin containers that are fully recyclable and environmentally friendly. Although the popularity of these sustainable packaging materials is growing, the vast majority of wrappings used are still harmful plastics and other non-biodegradable items.
Although we can not get rid of packaging altogether, there are other ways in which we can reduce the impact it has on the environment. For example, not all packagings have to be thrown away after usage. There are plenty of ways in which you can reuse or recycle the packagings of the products you purchase. This allows you to reduce your waste production and the impact you have on the environment. Below, we have listed down 5 simple and interesting ways that will help you to reuse packaging materials.
When it comes to reusing packaging materials, the easiest thing we can do is to reuse them for their original purpose – packaging. When we purchase a product, the wrapping that it’s delivered in rarely gets broken. As such, it does not lose any of its value. Why would you throw away a perfectly fine packaging when you can still use it to store other goods? Most packaging materials such as boxes, containers, jars, and bottles can be easily reused. Besides, the bubble wrap that’s often found inside the package can also be kept for later usage. Simply keep them stored away in your storage or garage. You never know when these empty boxes and bubble wrap may come in handy. If we’d all reuse some of the packaging materials we receive every year, we would be able to cut down our waste production by millions of Kilograms.
Although packaging materials are originally designed to wrap up goods, they can be used for plenty of other purposes as well. There are plenty of ways in which you can re-purpose the use of left-over packagings. Large boxes, for example, are great storage containers for in the garage or attic. Smaller boxes, on the other hand, can be used to collect trash or old paper and can later be disposed of and recycled together. Additionally, small boxes are great for packing birthday and Christmas gifts. Other materials that can be re-purposed are foam packagings. This foam can be used to insulate walls in your garage, treehouse, or dog house. Small jars and bottles made from glass or aluminum can be used to store leftover foods, cosmetics, or for DIY home crafts. All you have to be is a little bit creative, and you’ll find plenty of ways to re-purpose your leftover wrappings.
We all receive much more packaging materials on a daily base than that we can reuse for personal reasons. As such, we still end up throwing most of it away. After all, it’s just trash, isn’t it? Well, not really! Just because it’s useless to you, does not mean that you can’t make others happy with it. Many companies are happy to accept (clean) secondhand packaging materials such as used boxes and bubble wrap as they can use them again. Besides, many farms are eagerly looking for leftover natural packaging materials that can be composed and turned into pig feed.
Although the majority of packaging materials we use today are made from plastics, there still are some companies out there who choose for a more sustainable option. Some companies, for example, use coconut fiber instead of shredded paper to fill up their boxes. These kinds of natural items are biodegradable and can thus be used for composting. Simply mix them with leftover foods in your compost bin, and let nature do its job. Other items that are not 100% natural such as paper can still be composed as a carbon-rich ‘’brown’’ ingredient when it’s mixed with natural greens. For those of you who do not have a compost bin at home, there still is the possibility to go green. Simply bring your biodegradable packaging materials to a nearby farmer or gardening center. These places often have a compost area and are happy to accept your biodegradable trash.
Most of us already know that certain packaging materials can be returned to the store in exchange for a small compensation. Take plastic bottles and metal tins, for example. Many large grocery stores around the country will pay to take these back for recycling purposes. Depending on where you’re from, shopping centers may take back glass jars and bottles, metal tins and bottles, plastic bottles, empty beer crates, and more. Therefore, if you do not have a use for the leftover wrappings left at home, you can simply return them to the store for recycling purposes and even get paid for it. By doing so, you’ll significantly reduce your impact on the environment.
Check out more eco-packaging products at: https://www.ucanpackaging.com/
Eurostat: Statistics Explained. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Packaging_waste_statistics