Eco-Friendly Gifts Blog: How Festival Kits Can Make Events More Sustainable
Single use plastic is a huge problem, we all know that.
At large events, excessive amount of plastic waste can be produced, leading to unsustainable amounts of waste being thrown into landfill.
In this blog, we're going to be discussing how the plastic free alternatives in our Eco Festival Kits, such as compostable ponchos, plates and cups, can be used to reduce plastic waste at festivals.
We will also discuss our free scheme made to produce zero waste through composting, LFHP Zero.
Eco Festival Kits - The Motivation
Every year, seemingly more photos are coming out of festivals showing fields littered with leftover tents, single use plastic debris and many other items.
We have built our Eco Festival Kits to reduce plastic waste at any festivals you go to. We will soon be present at festivals, delivering your festival survival kits directly to your tent.
We love festivals, and have experienced some of our best times at them. We want them to become sustainable, so they can continue many thousands of years into the future (slight exaggeration, but we hope that does happen).
Our goal through our Festival Survival Kits is to reduce plastic waste at festivals, enabling festivals to reduce the amount sent to landfill or incineration.
We do this via our product choices containing minimal or no plastic, as well as developing zero to landfill schemes such as LFHP Zero.
The alternative we use to conventional fossil fuel based plastics, are a group of materials known as bioplastics. They are similar to fossil based plastics, but are produced from biomass, can biodegrade, or both.
PLA is a material that our plastic free ponchos are made from. Polylactic acid is produced from cornstarch, and is fully biodegradable as well as compostable.
When you use LFHP Zero, we guarantee any compostable items in your Festival Survival Kit will be composted, with zero waste going to landfill.
As a business, we feel responsible for the cradle to grave process for every item we produce. This means reducing waste sent to landfill or incineration at every opportunity possible.
In an ideal world, we would have zero waste from every gift we sell, and we are working towards that goal every day.
What's Wrong With Plastic?
To start, let's clarify what plastic is defined as. There is often confusion when referring to plastic, so let's say what we mean by it, in the context of our Festival Kits.
When we talk about 'plastic' in this blog, we are referring to conventional fossil fuel based non biodegradable plastic.
This means the plastic was produced from fossil fuels such as crude oil, and they cannot biodegrade.
If a material is biodegradable, it can:
"Break down into CO2, water and biomass with the aid of microorganisms".
Conventional plastics that are in mass production include PET (polyethylene terephthalate), PP (Polypropylene) and HPDE (high density polyethylene).
Because they are produced from fossil fuels, they are responsible for huge amounts of carbon emissions being released every year.
This is contributing to the climate crisis, and increasing the risks that developing nations face from floods and storms already.
Due to conventional plastics such as HDPE not being able to biodegrade, they can stay present in the natural environment for hundreds of years, all the time being a threat to marine wildlife.
Marine creatures including seabirds, turtles and whales are all victims of plastic pollution. Through ingesting plastic mistaken as food, they are at risk of dying from coming into contact with plastic debris.
Marine birds such as the sooty shearwater mistake plastic for fish they are hunting.
Once ingested, the plastic debris can cause the stomachs of the birds to fill up. This means they think they are full of nutrition, so they don't feel the need to hunt anymore. Effectively, they are starving to death without knowing it.
Plastic pollution affects marine plants, as well as marine animals.
Coral reefs have a much higher rate of disease when they come into contact with plastic.
A study in the Asia-Pacific region showed that coral reefs polluted by plastic have an 89% chance of being diseased, compared to just 4% for coral reefs that had not come into contact with plastic.
This huge jump in disease rates is due to coral abrasion. Plastic is the perfect place for disease carrying microbes to bind to, which means floating plastic debris in the ocean often carries many persistent organic pollutants.
When plastic debris comes into contact with coral, it can puncture the 'skin' of the reef, releasing the pollutants bound to it into the coral. From the point of entry, these microbes spread throughout the reef, spreading disease and killing the reef slowly.
Don't Festivals Recycle Plastic?
In some cases, they do.
Festivals like Glastonbury set the world standard for sustainability at large scale events. But even if the recycling rates are extremely high, there is no guarantee the plastic waste sent for recycling will actually be recycled.
There are few different ways in which this can happen, so let's go through them.
Recycling contamination is a result of multiple variations of plastic being mixed in together, meaning batches of recycling are sent to landfill or incineration.
An example of this is PVC being incorrectly sorted with PET.
PET requires high temperatures for it to be softened, which takes place in order to recycle it. At these same high temperatures, PVC breaks down into hydrochloric acid.
This acid renders the PET below the quality needed to recycle it. This means the whole batch will be sent to landfill or incineration.
Exported plastic waste, from countries such as the UK, ends up not being recycled at all.
Due to the cost being lower to export plastic waste, for other countries such as Malaysia to recycle, many tonnes of plastic waste are shipped abroad every year.
In 2018, 611,000 tonnes of plastic were exported from the UK to be recycled.
Much of this plastic is not recycled, and are illegally dumped or burned instead. As a result of this, Malaysia have now started to send plastic waste back to the countries who sent it, in an effort to reduce plastic pollution in their country.
All of these reasons explain why only 9% of all plastic produced has ever been recycled.
Plastic recycling has never really worked, and in reality it's just a scam designed to divert attention away from the massive amounts of plastic being produced every year, and entering the natural environment every year.
Recycling was invented in the 1970s with the 'Keep America Beautiful' campaign, created by the very same companies who were producing the waste in the first place.
By creating recycling, the onus is now on the consumer to ensure that plastic waste is disposed of properly, and not on the companies producing the plastic.
Any waste now entering the natural environment is due to the consumer not dealing with it properly, creating a vacuum of responsibility when it comes to the producer.
As well as all of this, virgin plastic is often added to recycled plastic to bolster the quality of it.
Plastic recycling is an industry, just like any other. And like any other industry, the goal is to make money. If recycling plastic makes money, then companies will continue to recycle.
If there are shortcuts to be taken in an attempt to make more money, such as exporting waste with no intention of analysing where it actually ends up, then recycling companies will take them to increase profits.
What Is Bioplastic?
As previously mentioned when talking about PLA, the material many of our compostable Festival Survival Kit items are produced from, a bioplastic has similar characteristics to conventional plastic but there are two key differences.
Bioplastics have the ability to biodegrade, are produced from biomass, or both.
There are four main segments of plastic, when taking their biodegradability and source material into account.
The first group are made up of biobased non biodegradable plastics. These are plastics that are produced from renewable resources such as cornstarch, but do not have the ability to break down into CO2, biomass and water.
The second group is the bottom left segment. These plastics are conventional, and are responsible for plastic pollution as we know it today.
The third group are fossil based biodegradable plastics. These bioplastics are still produced from non renewable resources, but they can biodegrade.
The fourth group in the top right of the grid are biobased biodegradable plastics. These are the bioplastics that are used to make the compostable items in our Festival Survival Kits.
They have low carbon footprints because of the sequestering of carbon that takes place during plant growth, as well as being able to biodegrade fully.
Using this group of bioplastics in our Festival Kits makes us excited - we always love using new sustainable technology in our Eco-Friendly Gifts.
When you use LFHP Zero, they can be composted fully for free. This means zero waste goes to landfill, and actually helps grow the next generation of plants.
Let's compare bioplastics to conventional plastics.
Compared to crude oil based plastics, biobased bioplastics have a hugely reduced carbon footprint, as well reduced CO2 emissions. Take a look at this graphic from European Bioplastics.
This lowered carbon footprint is the result of using biomass as the source material.
Because the plants used to form the bioplastics capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the overall carbon output of bioplastics are far closer to being carbon neutral than fossil fuels will ever be. In some cases, biobased bioplastics actually take in more carbon than they expel during their entire life cycle, meaning they have a positive impact on reducing climate change.
Biobased bioplastics reduce the amount of toxic runoff compared with traditional plastics. Plastic toxicity can have a hugely detrimental effect to both the environment and wildlife in close proximity to the toxicity. Leachate is the result of rain falling on the landfill absorbing the soluble molecules in the plastic waste.
This toxic liquid then moves deeper into the landfill, eventually reaching groundwater below the landfill site.
A landfill site in Oxfordshire is estimated to produce more than 27 tonnes of ammonium every year, all of it entering the river Thames. When ammonium enters the river, it breaks down into nitrogen. Potentially, this could lead to excessive plant growth and decay, throwing the marine ecosystem off balance.
If conventional plastic items are incinerated, they could potentially release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. These include dioxins and heavy metals, both of which are harmful to humans and other life. Bioplastics do not contain any of these dangerous compounds, so incineration will be far less damaging.
Eco Festival Kits: In Conclusion
Throughout this blog, we've talked about how our Eco Festival Kits will reduce plastic waste at festivals. Not only about the items in them, but about how to dispose of them with zero waste going to landfill using LFHP Zero. Festivals can be amazing at recycling, but even with high success rates of recycling plastic, the actual recycling of plastic collected from festivals is not guaranteed to take place.
The onus is on us to ensure our products have the best life cycle possible, and for them to cause the least amount of damage to our planet in the process. We want to ensure our products get composted, to make sure they stay out of landfill, and out of our oceans.
About Our Sustainable Gifts
When making our range of sustainable gifts, we wanted to make a positive difference in the gift giving world.
Each gift is designed around sending the most minimal amount of waste to landfill, and having no single use plastic in product and packaging.
Sustainable gifts should be judged on the entire life cycle, from cradle to grave. By swapping fossil based single use plastic for other materials such as bio based bioplastic, we are reducing both the plastic footprint and carbon footprint of every gift.
If you would like to read more about the work we do at festivals, feel free to subscribe to our email list at the bottom of the page.