CORNSTARCH PRODUCTS A GOOD REPLACEMENT FOR PLASTIC?
What does it mean to be a sustainable company these days? When scouring the internet, you’ll find many different articles or studies by top universities outlining what it means to be a sustainable or green business. In this search the most common explanation found is:
"A sustainable business, or a green business, is an enterprise that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy."
More than ever companies are encouraged to find ways to become “greener” by a growing social movement to eliminate excess waste that will negatively impact our planet for years to come. This pressure for many businesses can seem like a difficult task because this can mean larger initial costs that will definitely eat in to overall profit. If asked, a majority of top executives consider a sustainability strategy essential to staying competitive in most industries and that is evident by the trillions of dollars that have been invested toward these efforts in the United States over the past few years. This strategic decision by many companies will help ensure their overall longevity, while showing their consumers a willingness to make an investment that will ultimately impact our local communities and the environment in general.
At Hey Dude we don’t view this as a pressure we need to conform to if we expect to be competitive in the shoe industry or as a growing business overall. Instead, there is an overarching message from the very top of the organization to constantly find new ways to find eco-friendly solutions that positively impact the future of this planet, while still providing our signature comfortable shoes. About a month ago we launched our Eco-Knit collection that is comprised of multiple shoes made from plastic waste collected from our oceans. As part of this campaign we also produced 10,000 cornstarch trash bags with the commitment of adding one to every order encouraging our consumers to help clean up their local surrounding environment.
But many have asked why cornstarch bags and how does this help?
If we start with the main ingredient for these bags, cornstarch (sometimes called corn flour) is a carbohydrate that is extracted from the endosperm of corn. To make this simpler, the endosperm is the juicy yellow outside of each kernel of corn that you spread too much butter on when enjoying at your favorite backyard barbeque. Some really smart scientists were able to take this messy summer side dish and create a multitude of products from cornstarch (polylactic acid – PLA) that can now be used as a replacement to products formerly used by plastics or foam. Under good conditions, these materials made from PLA are able to breakdown after several months, providing a unique soliton to products previously made from plastic that aren’t biodegradable. So, providing our consumers with one of these cornstarch trash bags in every order since the launch of our eco-friendly shoe collection was just one promise, we made to find ways to address and replace plastic based products plaguing the environment.
The opportunity to now swap out important parts of our business at Hey Dude with cornstarch replacements became very exciting. Within the last year we’ve order over 60,000 cornstarch polybags to hold our shoes instead of the more traditional box used previously. When shipping the shoes with the new cornstarch polybag, it also creates a cheaper option for consumers to receive our shoes without excess weight and waste. This is one of many new solutions we are exploring to reduce our plastic waste in our shipping process.
Hey Dude has also taken this biodegradable focus to our wholesale side of the business by replacing all of our instore shoe hangers with a similar version made solely from cornstarch based materials. This commitment required us to purchase over 75,000 of these hangers that will begin hitting stores with our Fall/Winter collection later this year.
The use of packaging materials is crucial for protecting products when shipping around the world or directly to consumers. The use of these materials has given many companies an environmentally friendly solution to replace plastic. Hey Dude shoes will continue to find new ways of using PLA materials in an attempt to reduce our plastic footprint, while exploring new ideas that could continue to add to our overall sustainability mission.
We welcome all new ideas to help us continue our sustainable efforts, so please reach out to our customer service if you have suggestions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org