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How To Make Your Shipping Sustainable with 100% Recyclable and 100% Compostable Materials including CO2 Removal For Shipping Emissions

By January 31, 2020 No Comments

Having a mission to remove emissions means that we are working hard here at Project Vesta to be a part of the solution (or dissolution as I like to say…) and that means that we do not want to create waste and/or pollution through our own activities.

Yes, it is more difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes more expensive to utilize materials for a supply chain that are recycled, can be a part of the circular economy, or can at least have a pathway to breaking down quickly. We do not want to do anything that ultimately harms the environment through the products we are creating/buying (or through our project of enhanced weathering on coastlines).

The last thing we want to do is end up like the inventor of the Keurig cup, who regretted the hundreds of millions of unrecyclable k-cups that were created from the popularity of his creation. We want to always fully think through our inputs, outputs, and product lifecycle before we scale anything up.

This is a guiding principle as we develop our supply chains, whether it be for the packaging and inputs in our jewelry and shipping materials, or ultimately for the sourcing, transportation, and complete life cycle process of acquiring and distributing olivine rock.

Our goal with the necklaces was to responsibly source materials and products that are fully sustainable, recyclable and local where possible. The envelopes are 100% recyclable and compostable, and utilize labels with a non-toxic glue so they can be composted along with the envelope itself (although recycling the envelope is best).

The 100% recycled paper that we are using for the note that goes inside the package is even made in a factory powered by its own rooftop solar. The cords for the necklace are organic European hemp with a plant-based (vegan-friendly), color dye, which is spun into twine by a collective of artisans at an off-the-grid workshop powered by solar panels. Our peridots/olivine gems are ethically hand mined in San Carlos Arizona by a tribal member of the San Carlos Apache reservation.

This isn’t a post to self-congratulate ourselves, it is to help our donors and consumers, in general, understand what goes into the sourcing decisions companies make and to help companies in this situation find ethical and planet-friendly shipping materials and input sourcing.

And this extends to the inputs in the necklace. To do sourcing right, it means going out of your way to add in this thought process. Most people optimize their packing either for price (lowest) or aesthetics (beautiful but usually bad for nature.

The key I would say, is that you need to put extra effort to research and to where everything that you are assembling is coming from and where it will go after it is “consumed.” It generally means you may have to go slightly out of your way, looking directly for websites that specialize in eco-friendly materials, instead of just searching for what is available on Amazon or at Uline. Sometimes the costs are the same, but usually it does add some cost. As a supplier and consumer you to have to be willing to pay the true cost of the materials so you can ensure for those processes to be done right.

We are also working on making sure that the related shipping CO2 footprint is offset. In the United States, we have chosen to utilize the USPS for a few reasons. One is that they are already visiting most houses 6 days a week and our packages are very light and sent through non-prioity first class mail (so that they are not displacing other mail and only ship when there is available space (vs Priority Mail with guarantees). Further, we will be utilizing their BlueEarth Program to calculate our net CO2 emissions from the shipments and then pay to remove the carbon dioxide (not just an offset) with a third-party like Nori (until our beaches are live and we can place the proper amount of olivine for a removal offset).

Where to buy EcoFriendly Packaging:

Since our necklaces are glass and somewhat delicate we want to make sure our mailers having padding, so that leaves us even fewer options, as most padding is usually plastic bubbles of air. Fortunately, there is a great company out there though called EcoEnclose that makes some great natural products for shipping. We are using their 100%-recycled padded mailers using recovered newspapers as padding and then recycled kraft paper for the outside of the envelope. These papers come from sources that are Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified, meaning that their sourcing as recycled is verified through the supply chain. They even make a biodegradable tape and discuss all of their philosophy in this knowledge base.

And so now when we looking at our full supply chain, we know the source of each material and its life cycle that it took to get to our door, then we are conscious of the impact and footprint once it leaves there. And finally, everything we have put together is part of the circular economy and can be reused, recycled, or composted due to being created from natural materials.

This kind of systems thinking is critical in being conscious and sustainable, and it starts in the decisions made by the creator of a product and flows through the demands of the consumer. Try to only buy things that have thought out their life cycle, and if you create something, make sure you are selecting the most sustainable and circular materials.

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