Alternatives To Plastics

Many alternatives to plastics are found here:
http://www.anarreshealth.ca/catalog

Much packaging is found here, and none of the items are packaged in new plastics: http://www.anarreshealth.ca/catalog/10

Alternatives to Plastics useful at home are found here:
http://www.anarreshealth.ca/catalog/13

EcoCamping Items are found here:
http://www.anarreshealth.ca/catalog/7

What ARE The Practical Alternatives To Plastics?

In considering alternatives I think about:
~ Reusability versus single use, and how likely people are to refill/reuse it
~ Safety for people, creatures and planet in making it (human rights, health)
~ Safety for people, creatures and planet in using it (hormone disruption?)
~ Safety for people, creatures and planet in recycling it, or throwing it out as waste
~ How locally it is made (sometimes the most local means Austria!)
~ How recyclable it is. What % is recyclable? What % is actually recycled?

There are no perfect answers, but there are plenty of better answers.

I use and offer:

GLASS Glass has lots of recycled content, and is fully recyclable. Certain glass shapes are very sturdy and resistant to breakage, such as the "Boston Round" style favoured by apothecaries and aromatherapists. I try to find glass that is made as locally as possible. This means choosing North American made glass over imports from China.

METAL Aluminum is inherently preservative, non reactive with most essential oils and botanicals, is 100% recyclable and only 1% is lost to potash when it's recycled. On the downside, like all metals, it's mined, uses lots of energy to extract, and produces toxins in refining it. On the upside, aluminum more than other metals is mined in countries with health and safety standards such as Canada. On the downside, you do not want to scramble your eggs in aluminum pans, but you knew that...

Stainless steel is pretty recyclable, lots of it gets recycled, and it's fairly non reactive especially those food grades. Like all metals, it's mined, uses lots of energy to extract, and produces toxins in refining it. On the down side, it's always a composite, so recycling is trickier than aluminum. It's also heavier and costlier.

METAL and GLASS packaging is valued and tends to attract reuse, versus plastic and paper.

PAPER and CARDBOARDS Parchment paper, rag paper, paper bags and so on can be used to package things, especially soap nuts, solid soaps and powders. Paper uses lots of energy to make from trees, and produces toxins in making it.

I choose as close to 100% post consumer waste as I can. All of my labels and toilet paper offered are 100% post consumer recycled. I offer 80% wheat waste paper for sale, too. I use both sides of every paper, cannibalizing my old school notes at this point to print my own orders on, and I reuse all envelopes that come my way in sending out orders.

Paper and cardboard packaging tends to get recycled or at best composted. We see this packaging as single use. I think if we had to make it from scratch we'd take care of it.

VEGETABLE CELLULOSE Cellulose is a see through kind of paper, but also a sort of plastic developed very early on in plastic history. It's energy intensive to produce, and releases toxins in its production, but the vegetable cellulose itself fairly harmless and does not release plasticizers. Unlike "compostable" GMO corn plastic, vegetable cellulose composts in the presence of soil microorganisms in 30-60 days. I do it all the time. My experimental corn plastic GreenShift cup goes into my composter year after year. It's an opaque white now, but has not degraded.

I am only half joking, alas, when I say that some people would buy dog poo if it were wrapped in plastic. I use vegetable cellulose bags made from North American tree waste and film made from Eucalyptus waste (the roll was a sample I bought from Green Shift years ago) sparingly when people just won't buy the item packaged in paper, in repurposed plastic or unpackaged. My glycerine soaps, massage bars and tub truffles are packaged in vegetable cellulose.

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