Our Packaging Explained
Welcome to our exciting article on packaging! Ok, so this may not be the most thrilling of topics but if you have the slightest interest in how and why we package our products the way we do then please read on.
Here at Divine Shaman Canada, we hate the term ‘Land-fill’. Our land should be full of beautiful life-giving soil, not garbage! We have made huge efforts to reduce our impact on our precious eco-system and after weeks of research, we have learned a lot and are confident that the packaging we use is the best available to us at present.
To reduce our use of plastic, all of our shipping supplies are paper based and recyclable. We use shipping boxes made from 100% recycled (97% post consumer) materials which can in turn be composted or recycled. Our tape is the most eco-conscious on the market, made from FSC-certified paper and a potato starch adhesive, it can also be recycled so there is no need to separate it from its shipping box.
Finding shipping supplies was relatively easy. We knew we wanted to avoid using plastic which is easy to do by using a simple cardboard box. Finding the right product packaging on the other hand took some work and we exhausted many options before choosing the right product bags…
Our first choice in choosing packaging was the stand up pouch. While they look great, after reading countless articles, we soon learned of the huge negative impact they have on our environment. In order to have the stand-up feature, these pouches are made from thicker (and therefore more) plastic than regular bags. Those that are made with foil are not recyclable and end up in the dreaded landfills. Others are made from layers of different films which put them in category 7 or ‘other’ in the plastic recycling system which is not a great place to be. Recycling facilities for category 7 plastics are extremely limited and so most of these pouches, even if made of plastic, will end up in landfill.
Vacuum Sealing Bags
Another option we considered was vacuum sealing bags but like stand up pouches, these are made of thick and mostly multi-layered plastics. Being under code 7 or ‘other’ in the recycling categories makes them either non-recyclable in most recycling facilities or harder/more energy-consuming to recycle than other plastics. Added to the fact that these bags are not resealable, we knew they were not the right bags for us.
Plastic that doesn’t take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill? We got our hopes up with this one. The makers of Oxo-degradable plastics claim that they will degrade in 3-6 months. In landfill however where there is no light or oxygen, degradation is extremely hard, if not impossible. In fact, studies have found newspapers, lettuce, and corn husks in perfect condition even after 40 years of going into landfill. There are also concerns that the degraded fragments of plastic could have a negative impact to the environment and wildlife. If this type of plastic will unlikely degrade in landfill or potentially harm the environment if/when they do eventually degrade then can we not recycle them? Unfortunately not due to the chemical additives used to quicken the degradation process.
Plant-Based Plastic Bags
Everything sold on Divine Shaman comes from plants so we love the word ‘Plant-Based’! We really thought we were onto a winner with this one but sadly after a little research we were disappointed again. PLA (Polylactic acid) is a new type of plastic made from fermented plants and is often advertised as being compostable. In practice though, this needs to be done under strict conditions in an industrial composting facility heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and fed a steady diet of digestive microbes. While we are hopeful that composting facilities will catch up to the growing trend of PLA packaging, facilities at the moment just aren’t available in most areas and, as PLA cannot be recycled, it will almost definitely end up in land fill. Once in landfill, due to the natural compounds it is made from, PLA leaches methane into the environment; a gas 20 times more destructive than CO2. As if that wasn’t bad enough, PLA is typically made from GMO corn.
And the winner is…… Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Bags!
It turns out that standard LDPE bags were the most logical option for packaging Divine Shaman products. These plain bags are thin enough not to waste unnecessary plastic, made from just one material as opposed to several films and are easy to manufacture so as to minimize energy consumption. With a recycling category of 4, LDPE is one of the most easily recyclable plastics which can be recycled by many curbside collection services within Canada. If services are not available in certain areas, LDPE bags can usually be deposited at local recycling stations.
Well that was a let down!
After so much research, coming to the conclusion that standard resealable bags were our best option was certainly an anti-climax! At the beginning of this journey we had high hopes that we could offer amazing packaging that would give people the ‘wow-factor’. It turned out that impression would come at a huge cost to the environment. Next we thought we could offer packaging that might not look as good but would be more in-line with our environmental ethos. As it turned out, the ‘eco-friendly’ claims from many manufacturers didn’t seem to stand up. So we were left with the humble resealable LDPE bag. It doesn’t look great and at the end of the day, it is still plastic but we have concluded that it is the lesser of the evils.
Why Eco-Conscious and not Eco-Friendly?
The term ‘eco-friendly’ has become a buzz word in recent years. To be friendly towards someone, implies that you are doing them good. What we soon realized when researching ‘eco-friendly’ packaging is that it doesn’t really exist! Every form of commercial packaging needs to be manufactured in a way that will use the worlds resources. Being an online store, the only eco-friendly way we could offer our products to customers would be to personally hand deliver each product to their doorsteps. With most of our products coming in powder form, this would be a very messy and unhygienic endevour! After realizing this, we could not honestly claim that our packaging is ‘eco-friendly’ so we have chosen the term ‘eco-conscious’ to explain how we are being conscious of the environment in every step of our packaging process.
We will always try to be as eco-conscious as possible and welcome any information on alternatives sent our way. Thanks for reading!