The Compostable Conundrum: When Your Package Arrives in a Compostable Mailer and You're Stuck Holding the Bag (Literally!)

The Compostable Conundrum: When Your Package Arrives in a Compostable Mailer and You're Stuck Holding the Bag (Literally!)

Have you ever ordered something online and been pleasantly surprised to find it arrive in a compostable mailer? At first, you're all like, "Hey, this is great! They're being environmentally responsible!" And then the reality sets in and you're left with the question, "Now what do I do with this compostable mailer?"


Before I answer that question, I should say a bit about what makes shipping things in bags so attractive to brands like FiveADRIFT. Brands often use poly bags instead of boxes for shipping products because they offer several advantages over traditional shipping boxes:


  1. Cost-effectiveness: Poly bags are significantly less expensive than boxes, which can help e-commerce brands keep their shipping costs down. This, in turn, can result in lower prices for customers and increase competitiveness in the market.

  2. Lightweight: Poly bags are lighter than boxes, which reduces the overall weight of a shipment and can result in lower shipping costs for e-commerce brands.

  3. Space-saving: Poly bags take up less space than boxes, making them easier to store and transport. This can be especially beneficial for e-commerce brands that have limited storage space or need to transport large volumes of shipments.

  4. Customizability: Poly bags can be printed with custom logos and branding, which can help e-commerce brands improve their brand recognition and create a more professional look for their shipments.

  5. Protection: While poly bags do not provide the same level of protection as a box, they can still effectively protect items during shipping. For small, lightweight items, a poly bag can be a cost-effective and efficient option.


The problem with these bags is that they are made of plastic or more specifically polyethylene. Polyethylene plastic bags take a long time to break down - some estimates suggest that it can take up to 1,000 years for a single polyethylene plastic bag to degrade. This slow degradation rate can result in the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment, which can have negative impacts on wildlife and ecosystems.


In addition to taking a long time to degrade, polyethylene plastic bags can also break into smaller pieces, known as microplastics, which can persist in the environment for even longer. This is why it's important to properly dispose of polyethylene plastic bags and to minimize their use by choosing reusable alternatives. 


As a company, FiveADRIFT works hard to ensure that every decision we make is made with the least impact to the planet. To take advantage of the reduced fuel and costs associated with using a shipping bag instead of a box, we source compostable shipping bags from companies such as TishWish, Hero Packaging, and No Issue. We look for manufacturers who create their compostable bags from corn waste instead of growing new corn specifically for bags. So, what do you do with one of these compostable bags when you receive it?


Well, let me tell you, my friends, it's not as simple as just tossing it in the trash. Compostable mailers are designed to break down into natural materials, but only in the right conditions. To properly compost a compostable mailer, you need to make sure it ends up in a commercial compost facility where the heat and moisture levels are carefully controlled.


But what if you don't live near a commercial compost facility or don't have access to one? Well, in that case, you can still compost it at home, but it will take a bit longer. To compost a compostable mailer at home, you'll need to follow these steps:


  1. Cut the compostable mailer into small pieces and mix it with yard waste, food scraps, and/or paper products.
  2. Keep the compost pile moist and turn it regularly to aerate it.
  3. Wait several months for the compostable mailer to fully break down.


And voila! You've successfully composted your compostable mailer and helped reduce waste in the environment.


Receiving a product in a compostable mailer may seem like a small change, but it's actually a big step towards a more sustainable future. So next time you receive one, don't be intimidated by the compostable conundrum, embrace it and do your part in reducing waste. And if all else fails, just remember, the compostable mailer may break down, but the memories of your online shopping spree will last forever.

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