Eco-Friendly Gifts: The Story Behind Our Eco-Friendly Picnic Gift Hamper
Our Compostable Picnic Gift Hampers are the perfect gift to accompany your day out in the sun.
Completely plastic free, the Picnic Gift Hampers are friendly to the environment, and can be fully composted using LFHP Zero.
In this blog, we're going to talk about what materials are used instead of plastic. We're also going to discuss why making the shift towards plastic free alternatives is important, and the science behind our Compostable Picnic Hamper.
What Makes This Eco-Friendly Gift Special?
Our Picnic Hampers are filled with Compostable Cups, Plates and Cutlery. Also included are a pair of Eco-Friendly Grills, and Sustainable Kitchen Roll.
We developed this Picnic Hamper to provide a plastic free alternative to Picnic Baskets that are filled with single use plastic. Plastic cups, plates and cutlery are common, and they are all wrapped in...you guessed it, single use plastic.
With a staggering 300 million tonnes of plastic being produced every year, there are vast amounts of plastic being thrown away into landfills on a constant basis. 50% of all that plastic being produced is single use.
Our Picnic Hampers contain no plastic, so they don't contribute to this mass of plastic waste being made each year.
What Do We Use Instead Of Plastic?
For our Compostable Plates, Cups and Cutlery, we use PLA. Polylactic Acid is a material produced from renewable resources, and is completely free of fossil fuels. (Conventional plastic is produced from crude oil).
PLA is a bioplastic. Bioplastics are similar to conventional plastic in terms of their characteristics.
The big difference is that they are either made from biomass, they biodegrade, or both. In the case of PLA, it's both - PLA is made from cornstarch, and is fully biodegradable.
Conventional plastic is non biodegradable, which means it can stay in the natural environment for hundreds of years. This is having a disastrous effect on marine life, and is causing populations of marine species to dwindle. As PLA is biodegradable and compostable, it can be fully composted in under six months with LFHP Zero.
Conventional plastic is produced from crude oil. The process of developing plastic from crude oil releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the environment, which is contributing to the climate crisis.
PLA is produced from cornstarch, which actively takes in CO2 when growing. This means that the carbon footprint of our Compostable items is far lower than their fossil based plastic counterparts.
What's Wrong With Plastic Disposal?
The problem with conventional plastic is that even recycling still results in plastic going to landfill, or ending up in the natural environment. Only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled.
Incorrect processing can lead to batch contamination, which results in potentially recyclable plastic being sent to landfill or being incinerate.
Plastic is exported to developing countries, where they often can't recycle it, so they just burn it or dump it. Here, it's easy for plastic to enter our oceans, where it is reaching every part of our seas.
In short, there's no good solution to disposing of plastic.
Is Being Biodegradable A Good Thing?
Plastic pollution is largely down to plastic not being able to biodegrade. It either stays fully undegraded for hundreds of years, or breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic until microplastics are formed.
However, just because our PLA is biodegradable, doesn't mean it will biodegrade in the natural environment within a reasonable time frame. During the time where it is still present in the natural environment, it could still potentially cause harm to wildlife. If a material is biodegradable, it will:
"break down into biomass, CO2 and water, with the aid of microorganisms".
There is no set time frame on this, so if a PLA cup biodegrades in 1,000 years, it's still classed as biodegradable. This is what a huge amount of adverts for biodegradable items fail to mention, surprisingly.
Why Is LFHP Zero Important?
In order to stand up to single use plastic pollution, there needs to be an easy method of disposal which results in no waste ending up in the natural environment. This is where composting comes in. If a material is compostable, it can:
"Biodegrade within a set time frame, under set conditions to form compost".
The key to providing a solution to single use plastic pollution is not only producing biodegradable materials, but ensuring they biodegrade in set environments with no chance of waste entering the natural environment. This is what composting does.
Our PLA Cups, Plates and Cutlery are Industrially Compostable. This means that if they are composted in a Home Compost Setting, they are not guaranteed to biodegrade within a reasonable time frame.
To be fully composted in a reasonable time frame, they must be Industrially Composted. Industrial Composting takes place in set facilities, where temperatures are constantly high (a minimum of 58 degrees celsius). When Industrially Composted, our PLA Items will fully biodegrade in six months.
With LFHP Zero, we guarantee that any compostable waste returned to us will be fully composted with our Industrial Composting Partners. This means zero waste goes to landfill, guaranteed. It also means that your used compostable waste will actually be contributing to the environment, helping to grow new plant life.
So when you've had your delicious picnic and a great day out, you can feel great knowing that you've created zero plastic waste. A great thing about using Compostable Plates, Cups and Cutlery is that no washing up has to be done. Food is compostable, so it can all be returned to us as well!
How Does LFHP Zero Work?
With your order for the Compostable Picnic Hamper, we pack a compostable mailing bag. This mailing bag has our return address on it. When you've finished your picnic, simply put all of the used Compostable Plates, Cups and Cutlery in the bag, and seal it up.
Then, send the bag to us using your normal posting method. It's all prepaid, so it's at no charge to you.
As a business, we think it's hugely important to provide sustainable end of life disposal. We love the idea of providing a service which means you don't send any waste to landfill. We love creating gifts, and a disposal method, which means you lower your plastic footprint and generate no plastic waste.
When we have the compostable mailing bag, we sort it into the different items. Then, we send everything to our Industrial Composting Partner. Here, they fully compost the used compostable items. The generated compost will be used to help grow future plants.
Let's answer a few common questions that might arise from the content in this blog.
Are All Biobased Bioplastics Biodegradable?
No. To easily show the segments of plastic grouped on material base and biodegradability, here is a graph from EU Bioplastics.
From the graph, we can see there are four main groups of plastic relative to their biodegradability and base. As we can see, there are groups which are produced from biomass which aren't biodegradable. Bioplastics including Biobased PE and Biobased PET are both produced from biomass, but do not have the ability to biodegrade.
Conversely, there is a group produced from fossil fuels which do have the ability to biodegrade. Bioplastics including PBAT and PCL can biodegrade, whilst still being produced from fossil fuels.
The group in the bottom left is what we all know as 'plastic'.
Conventional plastic is created with fossil fuels as the base, and they do not biodegrade.
This results in the problems that are associated with mass plastic production today. Massive amounts of greenhouse gases from plastic extraction, production and transportation are released every year. This is not slowing down, and is actually expected to increase.
Because conventional plastic does not biodegrade, it will, as previously mentioned, stay in the natural environment for hundreds of years potentially.
This is creating an unsafe environment for marine animals in particular, and is resulting in deaths from coming into contact with floating plastic debris.
What happens If Your Compostable Cups, Plates And Cutlery End Up In Landfill?
First of all, you can easily avoid any risk of that happening with LFHP Zero, in case you've skipped to this bit of the blog. LFHP Zero guarantees any compostable waste from your Picnic Hamper will be fully composted, with zero waste going to landfill.
If LFHP Zero is not used, then there is always the possibility that your used compostable waste will end up in landfill. There are two conditions found in landfill: anaerobic (without oxygen present) and aerobic (with oxygen present).
The reason for a landfill being anaerobic is for it being capped. Also, uncapped landfills can be so densely crammed with waste that little or no oxygen is present deeper into the landfill.
In anaerobic landfill conditions, PLA will remain largely inert. This means it will just stay there and occupy space. This is because there aren't the required microorganisms to help with the biodegradation of the PLA.
In aerobic conditions where the necessary microorganisms are found to aid biodegradation, PLA will biodegrade at similar rates to other biodegradable materials around it.
This is not a quick process. There is no data we could find to suggest how long it would take, and the variables are so vast the data range would be huge, and as a result extremely difficult to find an average.
We hope through this blog we've explained our motivation behind developing our Compostable Picnic Hamper, and several of the key supporting arguments supporting a move away from conventional plastic.
We also hope that we've explained that just because a material is biodegradable, it does not mean that it is good for the environment.
In order for a positive impact to occur from a material, it must be disposed of with a zero chance of waste ending up in the natural environment, which is how plastic pollution occurs.
There are a few important reasons behind starting our shop selling sustainable gifts, with the main one being to reduce plastic waste entering landfill.
Our sustainable gifts are different from the competition. By finding creative alternatives to single use plastic in the packaging, every order has minimal impact on the environment around us.
If you would like to join our community of people wanting to make a change away from conventional plastic to more sustainable materials, feel free to join our email list at the bottom of the page.
We are constantly researching, and will always reply to any questions you have with regards to choosing plastic free. We are more than happy to have a chat through anything in this blog, or anything to do with our Eco-Friendly Gifts.