Since all of our beautiful and unique Australian baby clothing and gifts are 100% organic and therefore super-duper environmentally friendly, it makes sense that we’d use environmentally friendly packaging too, yes? Turns out there’s no such thing as a 100% environmentally friendly clear packaging product with a 100% environmentally friendly manufacturing process (see what we did there? We didn’t just look at the packaging, we looked at how it’s made too – cos we’re good like that).
So, we checked out all the options and went for the closest thing we could get to perfection – environmentally speaking. And, that’s good-old-fashioned cellophane. It’s completely biodegradable and compostable and we like that.
Have you ever actually wondered what cellophane is? We hadn’t either. Until we started researching packaging options that is. Turns out, cellophane is a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose from any one of a number of different plants (often cotton or hemp). Cellulose is the structural component of plants.
And here’s the potentially-not-so-environmentally-friendly aspect to cellophane manufacturing – cellophane is essentially made by dissolving plant fibre in alkali and carbon disulfide to create viscose. The viscose is then reconverted to cellulose in cellophane form and treated with glycerol to make the dry cellophane less brittle. Still with us? Excellent, that means you care.
It’s the carbon disulfide that’s the not-so-good guy. Some of it may be released (in gaseous form) into the atmosphere during the making of cellophane. In large doses it can be harmful to humans. The World Health Organisation (WHO) tells us that, as well as in the viscose industry, carbon disulfide is also released as a by-product in oil and gas processing as well as in the chemical industry and in tyre manufacturing. That sounds bad.
On a brighter note, WHO also reports that carbon disulfide is also produced naturally by soil and sediment microorganisms, vegetation, forest and grass fires, and volcanoes. Worldwide, as much as 80% of releases are a result of natural or biogenic activity. That sounds a whole lot better.
So, cellophane is not the ‘perfect’ environmentally friendly packaging we had hoped to find. However, given the amount of processing and nasty chemicals it takes to turn petro-chemicals (chemicals derived from crude oil) into plastics and the damage those plastics do long after having been discarded, we think that using cellophane bags to protect our garments is still way better, environmentally speaking, than using plastic ones.
We’re always on the hunt for greener solutions and we’ll switch packaging as soon as we become aware of a better option. If you come across one – do let us know, yes?