5 Tips for Buying Natural Products5 Tips for Buying Natural Products

Story: Jayden Klinac
Photos: various

April 12, 2019

How can we choose to buy products that are better for the environment when there are so many different factors to consider, from the contents to the packaging to the disposal? The answer: look to nature. All living things have a life cycle: they are born, grow and one day, return to the earth. Jayden Klinac, inventor of the plant-based Better Bottle, and founder of social enterprise For The Better Good, gives his expert tips on how to buy products that are based on natural life cycles.

1. Go package-free.
The best packaging is nature’s packaging; fruit and vegetables have skin! And there are also options now for buying staple items without packaging, by refilling existing containers. This provides a myriad of benefits, from requiring less of Mother Nature’s resources at creation, to using less energy to process the product after its useful life cycle. The best thing to do before worrying about composting or recycling is not to have anything to dispose of in the first place.

2. Search for plant-based products.
Traditional plastic is made from oil, which is a finite resource. Aside from the fact that once we use it all, we will have none left, it is also ‘carbon’ that is currently in the ground. By pulling carbon out and burning it in the way we do, we are sending it into the atmosphere, which is one of the driving factors behind climate change. The more products that are made from renewable resources, the less we’ll have to rely on fossil fuels. Composting then gives these plant-based products the opportunity to enter a cycle that promotes new growth, mimicking nature.

3. Choose compostable over biodegradable.
Biodegradable and compostable are two different things. A compostable product is made from renewable resources and turns into valuable nutrients for our soil. It also helps to divert food waste from landfill. Certified compostable materials are also controlled to ensure they break down within a time period. When done right, composting can begin to turn the tides on climate change by taking excess carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back into the ground where it belongs. Biodegradable simply means the product will break down over a time which could take years. If it contains micro-plastics, these could enter our soils or oceans, potentially causing more damage than if it were to stay intact.

4. Seek out companies who take inspiration from nature.
An abundance of information is only a few clicks away. If you are committing to a new product or looking for a lighter lifestyle choice, do your research. Companies who consider the environment and learn from nature are always worth supporting. This could mean anything from buying local organic food or seeking out businesses who are offering a path towards a regenerative future. We need to look at ways to restore the results of past practices, which generally means giving up the most convenient, cheapest option.

5. Take a holistic approach to any purchase.
Look beyond something simply being plant-based, reusable, compostable and/or recyclable and consider each step of its life cycle. Where was the product made, what from, how did it get to you, where will it go after you are done with it and how will it get there? If you are buying reusable, be honest with yourself about how long you will use that product for and consider the whole life cycle. When purchasing a product, consider how you can cleanly dispose of it once it has reached the end of its useful life and opt for choices that you know have an end-of-life solution, keeping them out of landfill and our oceans. In a nutshell, if you can avoid buying packaged products – do that. Otherwise, opt for packaging that comes in renewable, reusable and compostable packaging and then ensure you give them the best chance of getting to the right facility at the end of their life.

About For the Better Good:
When I started on the journey to create a Better Bottle, it was all about giving people an alternative to oil-based plastic. I chose a bottle not because I wanted to add another ‘bottled water product’ to an already flooded market. It was because I had a message to share and a bottle of water is one of the rare products that can touch everyone in the world across demographics. However, I soon found holes in every step of the life cycle of a bottle, beyond just the issue of fossil fuels in plastic. Once I had replaced the oil for carbon, or plants (a renewable resource), I then needed to address the issue of single-use and the lack of public refill infrastructure, then the collection of the product to ensure it was recycled or composted. I then needed to look at the recycling and composting facilities themselves, and where that compost goes. In short, the product needed to go beyond being sustainable, to being regenerative. We now ensure a Better Bottle is a reusable, regenerative product by handling every step of its lifecycle, from making the bottles all the way through to composting them, where they enter a regenerative cycle, returning to their original state of carbon and water.

"If you are buying reusable, be honest with yourself about how long you will use that product for and consider the whole life cycle."

Choose plant-based products.

 

Choose compostable over biodegradable.

Seek out companies who take inspiration from nature.

Take a holistic approach to any purchase.