Written by: Karie Bumford
Just ahead of you in line at the grocery store, a customer removes produce from the containers they are sold in, and places them in biodegradable, reusable cotton bags. The store now has responsibility for the plastic packaging. Livin’ la vida loca or livin’ LOHAS?
LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability and is based on the work of US sociologist Paul H. Ray. You can create this lifestyle for yourself. EarthShift Global’s Circularity for Packaging webinar unveiled future waste liability is largely expected to belong to brand owners whose business models support the desires of target customers’ - YOU! Your consumer purchase choices encourage brand owners to recognize Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in moving their business models sustainably.
Here are your 5 action steps to aid your favorite brands to scale sustainability while providing products you love!
Reject Packaging - Food packaging is a major contributor to waste. Wherever possible, buy produce free from packaging, and get meat or fish at the butcher or seafood counter where you can insist on paper wrapping, not plastic.
Alternatively, Earth Day Live’s Breaking Free From Plastics suggests reusable cotton produce bags to repackage berries, grapes, tomatoes, and items that are not in compostable pulp-type packaging, similar to what is used at “pick your own” farms and farmers markets. If your favorite meat or seafood item is pre-packaged, ask the butcher or seafood counter to re-wrap your item in paper. Make a statement at the grocery store by leaving styrofoam, plastic wrap and plastic packaging with the distributor upon checkout.
2. Refuse “Extras” - Your favorite food service brand(s) are an ideal place to easily amplify LOHAS. Free online lunchtime learning webinars on building sustainability into your life are available to consumers. This recording on Sustainable Take Out lays out simplicity when placing a restaurant order:
Request needed condiments only, ask that the pick-up order not be placed in a plastic bag, and decline plasticware when dinnerware is available at your destination.
Bring a reusable shopping bag for order pick up, and use tableware at home or keep a set at your desk in the office. If you travel frequently, replace the accumulated pile of paper napkins in your glove box for a travel utensil set.
3. Demand Reuse - Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs exemplify consumer demand impact: “A question that we get a lot usually goes like this: “I love your eggs and your commitment to animal welfare and the environment, but why do you use plastic egg cartons? Isn’t that worse for the environment?” Dutifully, Pete and Gerry’s website has transparently disclosed their sustainability efforts. They detail why they choose recycled PET for their cartons, openness to adaptation: “we feel as though we’ve arrived at the best possible solution we can for the time being”, and a Carton Take Back Program initiative, all resulting from consumer sustainability demand!
4. Seek Exchange - As technology advances, e-waste is a formidable threat. Enjoin brands to produce your favorite products in a way that the tech industry can offer product longevity. Gerrard Street, a headphone company highlighted in the Ellen MacArthur Circular Economy show, recognized that 50 million tons of electronics are disposed of across the world annually in a throw away culture. Producing technology sustainably, they lease - not sell, modular headphones with swappable components they take back & reuse. The consumer always has the access to the ideal working headphones they adore, free of charge, without unnecessary waste.
5. Promote Collaboration - Network your favorite local brands. The Ellen MacArthur Circular Economy show: Circular Economy Greatest Hits: 7 of the best examples also features Toast Ale craft beer. Instead of additional harvesting which hinders soil regeneration, Toast Ale uses surplus bread from local bakeries as brew for their beer. As a brand loyalty ally, rally partnerships & sustainable value chains.
EPR shifts disposal burden, as well as negative environmental and health impacts, via the supply chain to the brand owners who make product design decisions. Use these actions & BE YOUR BRANDS SUSTAINABILITY TRENDSETTER.