I recently watched a documentary that portrayed in a graphic way how plastic travels around the globe through the air and waterways, ending up inside birds, turtles and, yes, humans. The birds were mistaking small bottle caps and other plastic floating in the water for food, and giving it to their chicks, essentially condemning them to death. The documentary highlighted how dangerous plastic is and how over the past few decades it has managed to permeate every part of the planet.
We can’t escape it, plastic is all around us and it’s not going away. If you tried to shop ‘plastic-free’ recently, you probably realised that it is all but impossible, at least when visiting the big supermarkets. It is also in most of the products delivered to us by mail and, in particular, forms a big part of the wrapping companies use for shipping. Plastic packaging is not our only concern - our clothing, furniture, and children's toys increasingly contain plastics and are seen as disposable items.
We believe that businesses have a big role to play in reducing the use of non-degradable materials such as plastic. This includes small businesses like CUP O FLORA. Hence, over the past six years, we have taken steps to become environmentally responsible. Below are some examples of how we take action to reduce our product’s footprint.
1. Using glass for our pots instead of plastic
At CUP O FLORA, we only sell high quality and durable pots, made of strong, long-lasting glass. Spare parts are also available to our customers online, to avoid entire pots being thrown away.
2. Stopping the use of bubble wrap
Since 2018, we have been asking our manufacturers to cease using bubble wrap when wrapping each pot. Our pots are tough enough to travel without them! We expect all vessels to be free of bubble wrap by the end of 2020. Until then, we pass on our spare wraps to Reverse Garbage, a magical place in Marrickville (Sydney) where one person’s garbage becomes another person’s treasure.
3. Continuously researching environmentally-friendly alternatives
Currently, at CUP O FLORA, we use styrofoam for the XL pots that need a little more care due to their size. The use of this material not only adds to the cost of manufacturing but also to the cost of shipping as it makes the wrapping bigger. It is also one of the most non-environmentally-friendly materials out there. Since last year, we have been testing different alternatives to find ways to eliminate styrofoam from our products. The results to date look promising and we expect to stop using styrofoam altogether from next year. Instead, we will be looking at recycled and recyclable materials like paper and cardboard.
We currently use silicon rings to separate the inner cup from the outer pot. While effective, these rings cannot be recycled and are thrown away once the pots arrive safely at their destination. In a CUP O FLORA first, from later this year, the silicon rings will be replaced with recyclable cardboard rings, turning the packaging of CUP O FLORA fully recyclable for over 80 per cent of our models. A great achievement!
4. Using recyclable materials
All of our shipping and packaging boxes are made of cardboard that can be placed into the recycling bin. The same goes for our tags that have no plastic lining!
We further decrease our shipping footprint using a fit-to-order shipping box that reduces the unused space inside each box.
Finally, we use compostable bags for our soil. Unlike biodegradable plastic, these bags, along with the labels, can be thrown into your compost bin or worm farm, or even into the green bin in some areas.
Businesses have an important role to play in reducing the use of plastic, but so do we as individuals. Here are three simple things that you can do to help the environment:
- Reduce your use of plastic. Try to say NO next time you are offered a non-essential bag or coffee cup.
- Pick up rubbish to stop it from entering our waterways (try it, the feeling is exhilarating)
- Use reusable or compostable alternatives
We have images of the poor chicks in front of our eyes as we try every day to be better corporate and individual citizens of this planet, but we feel confident that together, we can make a positive difference.
Are you ready to take the Plastic Free July challenge?
Front/featured image source: Education Images/Getty Images