The joys of lesser packaging footprint
A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Joe Public, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists. From the April 2019 issue.
With recent talk of the Ontario government mulling over a ban of single-use plastic packaging, it seems certain that the time is near for brand-owners to take bigger responsibility for the packaging they use to sell their products. A short walk down an ordinary supermarket aisle will reveal many shelves filled with non-recyclable plastic packaging or excessive bulky packaging for products that have no business taking up as much shelf space as they do. As part of my latest New Year’s resolutions, I resolved to cut back on excessive packaging and difficult-to-recycle materials and, to my delight, it has not been as onerous as many other consumers may think. In fact, hardly a day goes by now without me discovering one marvel of sustainable packaging or another, filling me with hope for a truly waste-free future that we all want and need for more guilt-free enjoyment of everyday life.
On weekends, I like to treat myself to a juice while cooking brunch with my partner. Trying to find an alternative to my usual plastic bottle of orange juice, I happily came across the Black River brand of juices lovingly produced by nearby beverage company Black River Juice. Proudly Canadian and boasting its pure press juice making process, I was excited to try the balanced, tart-and-sweet Black River apple + cranberry juice blend beautifully packaged in a clear-glass, recyclable bottle decorated with a transparent product label adorned with a rustic, holistic fruit illustration to project alluring and inviting shelf presence to tap into the shopper’s inner thirst for rewarding, ruby-red beverage experience. Not only is the Old School milk glass bottle fully recyclable, the 300-ml container is perfect for taking other drinks on-the-go, and for the more adventurous types among us Black River offers fantastic suggestions and inspiration on its Instagram page on how to reuse its bottles in a variety of novel ways. From a terrarium garden and quaint spice jars to f lower vases or even a bird feeder, the possibilities are endless!
Having heard a lot of positive buzz around beeswax wraps lately, I decided to go with the Canadian brand Abeego as an alternative to my usual plastic wrap. The packaging was attractive and everything I wanted
to know about this ecological alternative was available on the box. Made with beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil infused into a hemp and organic cotton cloth, these wraps are not only all-natural but also compostable—just like the packaging itself. Each Abeego package is uniquely colored with a delightful food graphic to signify the available sizes—asparagus with a neon green accent for large wraps, a forest green avocado for the variety pack I purchased (see picture), and so on. The clever use of food to scale the size needed creates an intimate at-home experience between the brand and consumer, while artwork to provide answers to common to consumer questions is a welcoming and disarming approach to communicate the product’s message to sustainability newbies like myself. With the compact package offering plenty of handy product information like cleaning instructions, a handy “how to” guide, and an easy-pull pull tab to open the box, Abeego masterfully picks up right where the box peels off.
The Selection Eco store brand of recycled kitchen bags retailed by Metro offer a great option to consumers looking to reduce packaging waste without making a drastic change to their shopping routine. Although I almost missed this small roll of bags sitting next to all the boxed bags on the shelf, the brand’s discreet, no-nonsense packaging—using just a small paper band to keep the bags tightly rolled together—the compact size of the whole package is remarkable, especially for an everyday household item. With zero fuss, these Eco logo-certified kitchen bags are said to contain minimum 20-percent post-consumer recycled material content and, as crowning glory, they fit perfectly into my tight cupboards for easy access. Overall, I was mainly impressed that this product used considerably less packaging compared to other bulky, cardboard packaged kitchen bags. It also fits perfectly in my cupboards for easy access! As an added extra bonus, the paper band holding together the 24 rolled bags together is also 100-percent recyclable, naturally.
While on a recent hunt for a last-minute gift, I decided to check out a LUSH cosmetics boutique to select few goodies from their vast selection of premium bath offerings. While browsing through the items, I found myself facing a dilemma how do I wrap a birthday gift and still maintain my waste-free commitment? Gifting packaging generates an enormous amount of waste and, sadly, it isn’t always recyclable or recycling-friendly. While that glittery paper may seem cute for Easter baskets, its recyclability is often dubious at best. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that LUSH offers pre-packaged gift sets that are both eco-friendly and re-useable. Brightly colored and lovingly hand-assembled, LUSH gift-packs offer a simple, stress-free way to celebrate any occasion, while making consumers feel good about their purchase. The packing peanuts inside are made from a starch-based material that dissolve in water—making them 100-percent biodegradable and perfect for compost. Many of the boxes used for gifting are recycled hatboxes or beautiful collectable tins, topped off with attractive reusable knot-wraps to help keep the package together until opening. The pop of color and the fruitsalad design on the “Juicy” gift set I purchased on that occasion is made from 25-percent Zambian Fair Trade banana plant fibers and 75-percent recycled paper. Thoughtfully, each gift-box comes with a recycled tag and a list of products and their uses—letting the consumer know what they’re getting and to inform the recipient on how to use the luxurious bath products inside. Gifting as joyful as gifting should be, I say, without costing the earth to do it.
Megan Moffat is a freelance writer based in Toronto.