Sustainability News: New Eco-Friendly Materials In The Market To Try For Your Daily Needs
From plantable face masks that turn into vegetables to biodegradable plastic bags to rice-made straws, these new materials will help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle now!
We have a plastic pollution problem and we have to act now.
Last year, five days of coastal clean-up on the Manila Bay island last month yielded a total of 16,000 kg of trash. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources data, most of the items were sachets made of aluminum and blends of plastics. These single-use sachets are one of the biggest plastic pollutants in the country, especially in a developing nation like ours. According to The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), the Filipinos consume 163 million pieces of single-use sachets daily, one of the highest rates in the world.
And we’re seeing the effect of this waste in our daily lives. Our drains and waterways are clogged with trash, contributing to the flooding problem everywhere.
The pandemic has exacerbated this even further, especially since we’re relying on disposable masks, online deliveries, and e-commerce. According to the World Health Organization, the world's medical frontliners need 89 million medical masks, 76 million gloves, and 1.6 million goggles monthly. Imagine how much additional plastic we’re consuming because of the increase in food and online deliveries, most of them packaged in single-use plastic?
Even though we’re battling a pandemic, the plastic problem will not wait for us. That’s why we should, in our little ways, choose to use items that are not as harmful to the environment.
Thankfully, there are now more sustainable materials coming out in the market for our everyday needs. Most of these are biodegradable packaging to substitute our plastic needs.
A face mask that you can plant
Leave the single-use medical face masks for our frontliners. For your Covid-19 protection needs, check out this paper face mask that you can plant!
Called the Koobly Abaca mask, this mask from new eco brand CocoRingo are 100% pure Abaca paper masks embedded with vegetable seeds. So instead of throwing out the used mask in the garbage after use, you can tear it into pieces, soak it in water, and let the seeds germinate. In a few days, you’ll have a vegetable plant from your mask!
Are abaca masks as effective in protecting you from Covid-19? According to a recent report by Bloomberg, abaca is found to be as durable as polyster, but has the ability to decompose in just 2 months. A preliminary study conducted by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology also found that the abaca paper was actually more water-resistant than a commercial N-95 mask, and it had the pore size within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended range to filter hazardous particles.
In 2017, the Philippines was the largest producer of abaca, supplying 85% of the world’s use. So, why are we not patronizing local masks made from this readily available resource?
Currently, the Koobly masks are available in eggplant and pechay for 80 pesos each, or 150 pesos for two masks.
Biodegradable packaging solutions
If you’re a business owner who’s looking to use more eco-friendly packaging for your goods and food items, look no further than EcoNest Philippines. Founded in 2018 by two social entrepreneurs, Nikki Sevilla and Joshua Caampued, EcoNest aims to greatly alleviate the consequences of plastic and chemical wastes.
Instead of using bubble wrap for your fragiles, switch to the Ranpak Geami Honeycomb Wrap. This wrap is organically made from renewable resources, fully recyclable and biodegradable, and is safe to be consumed by microorganisms.
Instead of plastic bags, use a Cassabag, which is just as strong as your regular plastic, but is 100% compostable and biodegrades in 105 days. Made from cassava, these bags are soluble in hot water and are not harmful to living things in the event of consumption. You can even customize the bags for your branding needs using EcoNest’s eco-friendly soy-based ink.
For foodstuff, you can trust these sugarcane food packaging made from the dry fibrous residue left from sugarcane stalks. They are food-grade; suitable for hot, cold, and even-liquid based food; but can decompost in as little as a month! You can even throw it in the microwave for reheating and they’re oven-safe up to 200°C.
EcoNest Philippines also advocates the Takakura Composting Method so you can help return your packaging back to nature. This practice lets you turn every EcoNest Philippine products into a natural fertilizer for your gardening and farming.
The straw issue has been a long-term problem for many establishments, since plastic straw is one of the many culprits of ocean pollution. In the past, we’ve seen metal and bamboo straws as alternatives, although they remain to be expensive and unhygienic options, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
To answer this straw problem, Malaysia-based company NLYTech Biotech sought to create a single-use straw that will decompose easily. Their product: rice straws.
Rice straws are made from broken rice flour and tapioca starch, and are much more rigid and sturdier compared to paper straws. They’re completely eco-friendly and edible (yes, edible!), can last 4 to 10 hours in cold drinks, and can decompose completely in just 90 days.
These rice straws are now available in the Philippines through VRTS Biotech on Facebook.