Take a look around your office or business space. Unfortunately, some of today’s most popular storage containers and packaging materials are also the most harmful to our environment. Roughly one-third of America’s municipal solid waste comes from these storage materials. Sadly, the majority of this is neither recyclable nor biodegradable, resulting in these detrimental materials entering our water systems and eventually harming all living organisms. If you see bubble wrap made from polyethylene, packing peanuts from polystyrene, plastic containers, and other environmentally harmful storage materials around your business space, consider replacing those with these five environmentally friendlier alternatives.
- Cornstarch-based packing peanuts
Packing peanuts are made from Styrofoam, the commercial name for polystyrene. Polystyrene contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to our environment because they do not biodegrade when exposed to a landfill. Furthermore, heavy amounts of petroleum are used to manufacture these packing peanuts. The next time you need to pack up some electronics or other fragile materials, try using the cornstarch-based alternative. These packing peanuts are considerably less static, do not contain toxic chemicals, and can simply be dissolved in water after you are done using them.
Mycobond is an environmentally friendly packing foam that is made from mushrooms and only uses 1/10 the carbon dioxide and 1/8 the energy that would be spent making other packaging foam materials. The manufacturing process simply involves growing the mushroom in a plastic structure that can be molded to whatever shape you desire. Furthermore, Mycobond may soon be sold in do-it-yourself kits so that you can grow and shape the material right in your own office space to fit whatever form you need.
- Sustainable wood
Wood from a sustainable source means that this wood is being replaced by new growth. This wood comes from forests where the trees are being grown faster than they are being harvested in order to ensure that future generations have access to the same resources we do. Many furniture companies are now offering storage pieces made from these sustainable woods, such as bookcases, desks, etc. Switching to sustainable wood provides you with the same means of storage, but allows you to help against the depletion of natural resources.
Plastics are generally not biodegradable and have destructive effects on marine life. Furthermore, the plastic industry supports further drilling which drastically depletes our earth of its natural resources. Bioplastics are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to petro-plastics. Bioplastic is a plastic in which all the carbon is derived from renewable resources via biological processes. This alternative can be made into numerous packaging materials and is completely mineralized by microorganisms in the soil after it is deposited in composting facilities.
- Post-consumer recycled content
Unfortunately, there is already a huge amount of harmful packaging and storage materials being used by different business and offices today. In order to avoid increasing this environmental impact, consider using storage materials that have been made from post-consumer recycled content. This consists of materials such as aluminum cans, cardboard, plastics, and more that have already been used but are now being made into a different form instead of simply thrown away in a landfill. Furthermore, besides using post-consumer recycled content, take a look around your office and see if you can use what you already have as packaging material. For example, try using old newspapers as cushioning for your electronics. There are many ways to get creative and reduce the impact of environmentally harmful materials.
Kenneth McCall is director of IT for storage.com. In this role he builds the systems that help customers find the best self storage units for their needs. Through Kenneth’s and his team’s work customers can find self storage in Dallas and other Texas cities.