Ever wonder how many plastic drinking bottles were purchased every minute on earth? Or maybe how many single-use plastic bags were used yearly? Admittedly, these are the kind of questions we don’t really want answers to. Not that we don’t care about these questions, but because we don’t necessarily want to hear the sad truth that follows. We know that, in the end, the answer is “too much”.
We, ourselves, had the same feeling towards these questions. We knew that our environmental footprint was quite important as avid energy bars consumers, but we never dare to look at the real numbers. Until we did the maths based on our own energy bar consumption.
No need to mention that the results were a big part of why we started Haumana, and why we focused on being one of the first energy bar brands out there to sell all of its bars without any individual packaging.
Now, you might think that this decision is nothing crazy, especially in 2022, when people are more aware than ever of the awful impact individual packaging has on our planet. But if you take a closer look at all the products sold in the supermarket, you’ll rapidly notice that still, in 2022, individual packaging still reigns as the number one packaging option for most companies. And customers…
So, we wanted to share the true impact individual packaging has on our planet, our communities, and our health. You might already be aware of these impacts, but we firmly believe that a good reminder can be useful for everyone. Because it was truly useful for us when we decided to create Haumana 3 years ago.
Individual packaging: Harmful before its use
It is widely acknowledged that individual packaging, which is commonly made of plastic materials, is harmful to our environment. Especially when it is buried in our landfills after its “lifetime”. But we tend to forget how energy-intensive the production of these packaging is, and how the process that leads to these finished goods is harmful to our planet at the core.
Individual plastic packaging is generally a product derived from oil production, which is one of the most polluting economic activities on earth. According to several experts, the activities related to oil extraction and oil transformation have caused major contamination of soils, and ground waters (USEPA, 1987; Richter and Kreitler, 1993; Kharaka et al, 1995; Kharaka and Hanor, 2003). In Canada, this industry was responsible for more than 10% of all the greenhouse gases, which considerably affect our environment, our ecosystem, and our communities. Crazy how a little piece of plastic can have such a great impact on our life, isn’t it?
Destroying Marine Wildlife
The impact of individual packaging is something that you can witness yourself. Unlike carbon dioxide, the impact of individual packaging can be seen with our own eyes. Indeed, you might have come across several pictures of plastic tides, where a gigantic pile of debris floats on several oceans around the globe. These piles of plastic have a tremendous impact on all the marine creatures that live in this environment.
One of the most devastating impacts of this pollution resides in how it directly kills marine wildlife, such as seabirds, whales, fish, and turtles just to mention a few. How does this individual packaging harm them concretely? Well, the most visible impacts are often related to issues such as ingestion of plastic, suffocation, and entanglement (International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2022). Youtube is, unfortunately, a great way to witness these impacts.
A Threat to Human Health
It might be hard to believe that individual packaging can represent a threat to human health. Especially when the most important aspect of it is to prevent your food from getting in contact with several bacteria/diseases. Which is totally accurate. But plastic found in individual packaging can also have an insidious way of impacting your health.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the plastic used for individual packaging tends to break down into nanoparticles, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system, causing developmental, reproductive neurological, and immune disorders. Researchers even found some of these particles in tap water, beer, salt and were, of course, present in all samples collected from all oceans, including the Arctic (International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2022). Proof that the issue is much more widespread than we might think!
How We Saved 250,000 Individual Wrappers from Landfills
With all this scientific evidence in mind, we knew that we had the responsibility to offer a serious alternative to individual packaging. But it’s never easy to swim against the tide. Especially when you're navigating in an industry that uses individual packaging is rooted in its core.
But we put our heads down and reached out to several suppliers across the world in order to find the best suitable options for our bars. Carried away by our quest to offer that alternative to individual packaging, we forgot how heavy would be our environmental footprint if our new packaging had to travel 10 000 kms…
So, with that in mind, and after weeks and weeks of research (and with the help of good friends of ours), we finally found a local supplier here in Canada that offered exactly what we needed. A solid, fully recyclable, and reusable kraft-made stand-up pouch. Thanks to this revolutionary packaging, and a solid partnership with our local supplier, we were able to completely avoid using individual packaging and saves more than 250,000 individual wrappers from ending up in landfills in only three years. And it’s just the beginning!
Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, and 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year (United Nations Environment Program, 2022). We know that these answers won’t cheer you up, especially after knowing all the negative impact it has on our planet, our health, and our communities. But being aware that individual packaging causes this type of damage to our planet, our marine wildlife, and our health, is the first step that can lead to a change. As a business, we know we have a major role in this global issue, particularly in offering alternatives to individual packaging.
So next time you’ll be asked for that plastic bag, or you’ll notice that individually wrapped snack, have in mind the answer to the two previous questions: There’s already too much.