Two of our company core values are creativity and responsibility. We are constantly striving to apply these values to everything we do, including our packaging. Even as a small business we recognize that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect the environment, and we pride ourselves on finding creative solutions to reduce our impact. In April 2019 we switched from plastic to cardboard hang tags that are 100% recyclable. In August 2019 we made the switch to biodegradable plastic mailers. These were a huge step up from traditional plastic packaging but they still took 2 years or more to begin degrading. So after some research we are super excited to announce that we will now be sending out our socks in 100% compostable mailers! (woohoo) These bad boys are made out of corn and break down completely in 3-6 months. They can be put right in the compost with your banana peels and egg shells. Don't have a compost? That's all good, even if they don't make it into a compost bin they will still break down in the landfill. Which means no turtles will be choking on Friday Sock Co. mailers. We recognize that this is a just a start, be we believe that every little piece counts and we are super proud of how far we've come. Keep reading to learn more about the environmental impacts of traditional plastics, how to reduce your plastic usage, and how to make your own compost!
Why Is Plastic A Problem?
Plastic was first synthesized in the late 1800s and became widely used during World War II. A cheap, lightweight, and malleable material with endless applications, plastic transformed society. Plastic is a part of almost every aspect of modern day to day life. The world now produces over 380 million tonnes of plastic each year, and 50% of it is single use plastics. Single use plastics are the worst environmental offender as they are typically only used for a matter of minutes before being discarded and are more likely to be littered. Plastic takes about 450 years to decompose, this means that every piece of plastic ever made is still on earth today. While most plastics are recyclable only about 9% of them actually are. The majority ends up in landfills or polluting the environment, particularly waterways. When plastics make their way into the waterways they erode into microplastics. This is not the same as degrading, the plastic still exists it's just in smaller pieces. This means that animals of all sizes are unknowingly ingesting plastic, including humans.
The 3 R's of Waste Management
We can probably all agree that we need to curtail the amount of plastic entering the environment, but what's the best way to do this? There's 3 general solution of how to do so: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Reducing plastic consumption is the most effective of the 3 R's. Many plastic reduction movements have started in the past few years. This market pressure has resulted in plastic alternatives for products that were previously only available in plastic, toothbrushes for example. If you're looking for more ways to reduce your plastic use, check out Plastic Free July here for tons of great ideas!
Recycling sounds great, but in reality it's not nearly as green of a solution as it claims to be. First of all, many types of plastic aren't even recyclable at all, including: dirty plastic, straws, and plastic bags. Plastics that are recycledable can only be recycled a limited number of times as the plastic degrades each time. Materials like tin and glass can be recycled endlessly. Secondly in order for plastic to be recycled it has to make it to the proper facility. Recycling infrastructure is expensive and many governments are unable to provide it, meaning that many people don't even have the option to sort out their recyclable waste. If you do have access to recycling facilities it's important to ensure you only put in approved items. Over 25% of Canada's blue bin content is unable to be recycled due to contamination.
Reusing plastic items helps extend their life, and keeps them from the landfill longer but ultimately it's not the best solution. Reusing your plastic cutlery for multiple meals is better than throwing it away after one use but as they are not meant to last you will eventually end up throwing it out. The better solution is to invest in plastic or non plastic items that were meant to be reusable.