Some time ago, I read about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (there’s one in the Atlantic, too), and PJ and I started thinking more about what happens to all the plastics that we use and throw away, and how they ultimately contribute to the growth of these vast areas of garbage in our oceans. Conservative estimates have this one garbage patch covering 270,000 square miles of ocean, or nearly 5 times the entire land area of our home state of New York.
We are both active backpackers and enjoy the outdoors and a healthy natural environment, so we thought about how we might make a difference, small as it might be. When we started Resistance Is Useful! we packaged all our products in small zip-top plastic bags, mainly because they were inexpensive and readily available. But what happens to them once the product is used and the bag is no longer needed. Maybe it gets recycled, if your area recycles this type of plastic—many places don’t. More likely it ends up in trash or, being so light, flies away from the trash can/recycle bin or landfill.
There had to be a better solution.
What if we could find suitably sized paper envelopes? Paper is almost universally recycled these days, and even if some do go astray they will readily decompose. We found, and are now using for most products, medium size kraft coin envelopes which solve the plastic problem. They are a bit more expensive, but we feel it is worth it for a better environment. As a bonus, they are also much stiffer than plastic and stored as a small file of well organized items instead of a stack of floppy bags.
We are still using plastic bags for bulkier items, larger quantities that won’t fit it the paper envelopes, and carbon composition resistors which are more sensitive to moisture. Slower moving items may still ship in bags until the bagged stock is exhausted, but we have probably reduced the plastic we use in packaging by about 90%.
Our next task will be to find a mailing solution with less or no plastic.