As a self-employed wildlife artist with a real focus on eco-friendly and sustainable practices, I package my art cards for sale in shops using clear compostable cornstarch-based sleeves (PLA).
Although made using compostable cornstarch, PLA bio-plastic doesn't biodegrade without the right conditions which involves temperature, moisture, and bacteria. In most places, there is no facility for members of the public to hot compost their single-use PLA bio-plastics - the product seems to have developed much quicker than the means of its ethical disposal.
Unless clearly labelled or looked for, clear PLA bio-plastic looks the same as regular plastics and for these to find their way into plastic recycling sites can cause real problems as they cannot be recycled!
I am fundraising for a HOTBIN composting bin to compost the used PLA sleeves that would otherwise end up in landfill where they would be unable to break down for many, many years. I intend to be able to offer my customers the option of returning to me the outer PLA sleeves after purchasing one or more of my cards from my stockists. The PLA sleeves can be returned to me through the post (please use a paper envelope - no plastic) or return the sleeve(s) to me in person to a receive a discount off your next purchase from my Etsy shop! All of the cards sold through my Etsy shop are sent without PLA sleeves, but instead in a glassine paper sleeve which can be reused and then recycled through local paper recycling collections. (Glassine sleeves aren't suitable for in-shop-use as they are nearly opaque and the designs cannot be clearly seen through them.)
I plan to include a small strip of paper inside each card explaining the option of returning the clear PLA sleeve to me at my address to receive a discount code off your next online purchase. I also plan to list other ways that the customer can responsibly dispose of the PLA sleeves themselves if they do not wish to return them to me or live outside of the UK.
As a small business owner there are many ways for us to be more accountable to our customers and to the environment. I hope that with a HOTBIN composting facility, I can provide an even greater service and be as environmentally responsible as possible. The resulting compost will be much appreciated in my growing garden where I intend to plant as many wildlife friendly native plants as possible!
Any and all donations to help make this mini dream a reality would be gratefully received! Once my target is met, I will celebrate with you all by having an online sale!
You can learn more about the effectiveness of the HOTBIN composting bins on PLA bio-plastics here: https://www.hotbincomposting.com/biodegradable-food-packaging.html
A little more about myself, my artwork, and my garden studio can be found on my website: www.natalietoms.com