I went into a restaurant the other day to grab a quick salad. As I was waiting for my food to be delivered to my table, I noticed a sign above the drink station:

 

“We want to do our part for the environment! Order a 32 oz drink today and get all refills for 99c.”

 

I had to suppress a true lol moment. The water cups were single-use plastic. The different sized soda cups were paper but coated in a polyethylene plastic wax. The utensils in the bin were plastic. The plates were Styrofoam, which isn’t just non-biodegradable, but also contains toxic chemicals that can leach into the food it’s touching. The ramekins for the salsa bar were … plastic.

The sign was funny because the restaurant wasn’t really trying to offer environmentally conscious alternatives at all; they were trying to make a sale. And though I giggled at the irony of the poster, I didn’t really find it funny at all, when I have seen the damage our plastic waste is causing for marine ecosystems. It is estimated that about a third of all the plastic we produce escapes collection systems and ends up in our oceans instead. These plastics get wrapped around unsuspecting marine life, and never break down.

I can’t be the only one who is getting tired of marketing and advertising ploys claiming to be one thing, but then cutting numerous corners and doing the complete opposite to increase their bottom line. Shouldn’t we all be able to agree that to keep the planet healthy for generations of people to enjoy, we need to work together to make environmental protection a priority?

Moments like this: where companies or restaurants use a growing movement to cash in on sales, often leave me feeling discouraged and cynical. Which is why I am continually impressed and thankful for companies like Stream2Sea, whose main goal is to protect the planet in every company decision they make. Not only did they run numerous tests to make sure their sunscreens and skincare products were biodegradable and non-toxic, they haven’t cut any corners on how they package their products either.

Instead of using common pepetroleum-basedlastics to package, which would defeat the purpose of their entire green movement, their tubes are made from sugarcane resins, their 32 oz bottles are made from recycled water bottles and milk jugs, and their baggies are made with biodegradable and recyclable PLA (Polylactic Acid) film.

 

 

You know how ethanol can be made from corn instead of petroleum? Well, our PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) packaging is similar except it is made from sugarcane waste instead of petroleum-based fossil fuels. Once the pulp of the sugar juices has been expelled, it can be treated as a waste product and burned–or utilized as a valuable product to reduce our greenhouse emissions instead. Like ethanol made from corn, the pulp is fermented and distilled. The ethanol is then dehydrated to create ethylene, which is then converted into polyethylene, a bio-based material. This material is identical to traditional petrochemical-based plastics–except for the carbon footprint that went into making it! It has the same texture, durability, weight, appearance, shelf life and recyclability as plastics made from fossil fuels, but curbs the negative environmental impact.

Besides this revolutionary packaging tool, Stream2Sea also repurposes plastic milk jugs and water bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill.  Every pound of resins they use diverts approximately 10 milk jugs from America’s waste stream and the world’s oceans.

And even though Amazon requires shipped liquids be placed inside plastic baggies, Stream2Sea has found a way to source a ‘Greenline’ biodegradable, reusable plastic bag. They encourage their customers to reuse these bags if they can, recycle them, or even toss them because they will eventually biodegrade!

Stream2Sea uses product transparency that is lacking in many companies today. Their honesty and integrity is something that I greatly appreciate. They even admit that the only product they haven’t found a green alternative packaging method for yet is their lip balm, as the biodegradable options don’t hold up in sports bags, but that they are actively working towards finding a more sustainable option for the future.

It’s refreshing to see a company walking-the-walk, instead of simply talking-the-talk, and it gives me hope that other companies will feel the pressure to start to follow Stream2Sea’s example. We can do without the smoke and mirrors deceit, that trick went out of style a long time ago. So consider asking your favorite brands to put their money where their marketing-mouth is, and make the switch to sugarcane-based bio-packaging or recycled, biodegradable materials instead. The environment belongs to all of us, and it’s important we work together to protect it.

 

Want to learn more? Check out some of our previous posts!

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