Hi, Ricardo!” shouted Lucy, the neighborhood gadfly, as he drove the delivery truck down the street for his day’s first stop. He liked the neighborhood; it was quiet. The xeriscape lawns of the homes, as well as the hawks, swallows, quail, doves, road runners, and owls flying or nesting in the trees, were a testament to the friendly and tranquil location

Ricardo stopped in front of Annie and LJ’s home, where he usually made a stop about once a week. He carried the box to the front door and rang the bell.

Annie opened it, “Hi, Ricardo. Thanks so much.”

“Of course,” he said. “By the way, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking note of the packages I deliver. I notice you consistently purchase from companies that use sustainable packing material. That’s great. Us drivers are very aware of the environmental impact of shipping goods. Although we’re happy that online shopping continues to grow, we are even happier to see the shift away from plastic and Styrofoam as packing material because neither is biodegradable.”

“Ricardo, thank you for bringing up the subject. I recently read that

“42% of consumers said packaging made from recycled or sustainable materials was crucial in their everyday purchase habits. And 57% of consumers reported that they are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly packaging.” – bulkbagreclamation.com

Last year when I was online Christmas shopping, I noticed some companies were offering green or sustainable packing, which uses materials that require little energy to manufacture and are made from biodegradable and recyclable material, so I focused my shopping on their websites. I also wrote to a couple of companies whose products I like and asked them to stop sending my purchase in elaborate boxes stuffed with too much tissue and tied with a ribbon. All of it winds up in the trash. According to the EPA,

“Containers and packaging make up a major portion of municipal solid waste (MSW), amounting to 82.2 million tons of generation in 2018.”

“Wow,” said Ricardo. “And that was before the pandemic, so imagine how much that figure has risen in the past four years.

Annie nodded, “I like the tried-and-true packages made of 100 % recycled paper and cardboard because they are biodegradable, you know, environmentally friendly.”

Ricardo hesitated, “Yeah, many feel that dumping their food containers in the recycling bin is environmentally friendly, but cross-contamination; that is, when left-over food contaminates the container, it makes it ineligible for recycling. So about 91% of what is supposed to be recycled material winds up in landfill and oceans, anyway. Are you familiar with packaging made from Plant-Based Materials? Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable plastic made from lactic acid, a by-product of agricultural waste, mainly plant starch from sugarcane, beet pulp, and corn.”

“No, I’m not familiar,” Annie said, “but glad to know that agricultural waste is being used for good. Speaking of which, Mushroom Based Packing Material is another by-product of agriculture being put to good use. Mushroom mycelium and hemp hurds are combined to make a compostable (within 30 days), water-resistant material that Ikea adopted to replace its Styrofoam packaging.”

“That is genius! Who would’ve thought mushrooms could be made into packing material? There are also Biodegradable Packing Peanuts. Biodegradable packing peanuts are plant-based and made of cornstarch and wheat. They are lightweight, cheap to make, and dissolve in water.”

Annie laughed,” If you like biodegradable peanuts, you’ll also like Corrugated Bubble Wrap. You can’t pop it like the plastic kind because it is made of corrugated (recycled) cardboard. Scoring the cardboard makes it malleable, providing a protective cushion for fragile objects. And let’s not forget Organic Fabrics as a packing material. Recycled cotton is an excellent use of an expensive-to-produce material that is durable. Hemp, flax, bamboo, palm, banana, and pineapple leaves are other less expensive organic materials, biodegradable in 100 days, and sourced from sustainable plants.”

“It was great talking to you, Annie. I’ve got a renewed sense of hope that businesses are taking their responsibility to help keep our planet green while doing the same to their bottom line.”


Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.


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