It may sound unbelievable, but we have flooded our planet with plastic so badly that experts believe plastic trash will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050. If this trend continues, our kids won’t have a chance to live on a clean and safe planet. Luckily, responsible businesses and individuals who can’t just stand on the sidelines and keep silent are developing and applying ground-breaking technologies that are helping us use less plastic and make the earth cleaner.
Here at Bright Side we believe that we can all contribute to a better future for our planet if we choose to buy eco-friendly plastic substitutes. Here are 7 companies that are glad to offer these alternatives.
Plastic straws are one of the major ocean pollutants that pose a huge threat to marine life. Quite a few big companies have already set a goal to get rid of them, and one of the leaders of this movement is Starbucks. The company plans to phase out all the plastic straws used in its stores by 2020, which will prevent more than one billion of them from ending up in landfills and oceans every year.
So, what eco-friendly substitutes does Starbucks offer to its customers? For drinks that require straws the company has developed a cup with a raised lid you can drink from. For those of us who still want to enjoy our drink with the help of a straw, the company offers green substitutes in the form of paper and compostable straws, and even cookie straws that you can eat after finishing your drink.
Large fast food restaurant chains are often blamed for producing large amounts of single use plastic. But responsible businesses are always looking for new ways to reduce the negative influence of their products and services, and Subway is one of them. This company has set a goal to reduce the need for single use plastic by changing their packaging policy.
Since all the sandwiches are now secured with a label, the company no longer offers plastic bags with every order, and provides them only upon request. Whenever possible, the fast food chain also uses recycled materials for their packaging. For example, salad bowls, catering platters, and lids have 95% recycled content. Thanks to this eco-friendly policy, Subway plans to reduce the waste in its US restaurants by 10 million pounds per year.
Being a great supporter of new ideas on how to keep our oceans clean, the company has refused to use plastic from manufacturers for part of its sportswear collection. Instead, Adidas paired up with Parley for the Oceans, a global network that unites thinkers and businesses that are focused on saving our oceans from pollution.
As a result, they’ve created the Parley product series that uses marine plastic debris that’s been collected on shorelines and coastal areas instead of virgin plastic. By up-cycling plastic waste the company hopes to encourage more business and individuals to reconsider the way we handle plastic and become more responsible consumers.
While some businesses are getting rid of plastic packages, others work hard to offer eco-friendly substitutes. At Ecovative they literally grow packaging materials that are 100% compostable and biodegradable. The company uses mycelium, a mushroom root structure, for creating a wide range of packaging materials and plastic substitutes for all sorts of applications.
The MycoComposite material developed by the company can be used for food packaging, furniture, footwear manufacturing, home décor, and many other purposes for which we traditionally use plastic. The company is also developing an animal-free leather and alternative meat on the basis of mycelium, taking another step toward a future where people will restore the planet’s resources instead of polluting it.
5. For The Better Good
At first sight, this company offers ordinary bottled drinking water, but this is not quite true. Their main secret is the bottle. Unlike the conventional plastic bottles we use every day, their bottles are non-toxic and 100% biodegradable. But how is that possible?
The Better Bottle that was developed by the company is made of natural starch extracted from plants with starch-based labels and eco-friendly inks. Even though the tops are still made of plastic, For The Better Good is always looking for new ways to recycle and repurpose them. The company also offers bottles with white labels for beverage companies who want to promote their own brands in eco-friendly bottles.
6. Ecoffee Cup
The company estimates that during 3 decades of a paper cup existence, over 3 trillion of them ended up in landfills. A conventional paper cup lasts no longer than 10 minutes and contains plastic that prevents it from being fully recycled, but the one developed by Ecoffee Cup is totally different.
The company invented a multiple use cup that you can fill with your favorite drinks, and it can last for years if you handle it with care. What is more, the cup is made of natural fiber, corn starch, resin, and food-grade silicone, which makes it a much better choice than a toxic plastic cup or a paper cup that will end up in the trash after being used for a few minutes.
Have you ever seen piles of fruit and vegetables individually wrapped in layers of plastic at your local grocery stores? Just imagine the amount of plastic waste we annually produce by selling and buying foods in plastic wrap. This chain of Thai supermarkets has come up with a genius green solution: they wrap their fruit and veggies in banana leaves.
They do use some plastic to adhere the label, but this method is still much healthier for our planet than using conventional plastic packaging. Banana leaves are 100% organic, biodegradable, and renewable, which makes them a perfect green alternative for oil-based products in the regions where they grow in abundance.
What do you think of these companies’ aspirations to do less harm to our planet? Do you personally choose to buy eco-friendly plastic substitutes when you have a chance?