The largest demographic to consume cannabis is 25 and under, which means they straddle the most sustainability-focused consumer groups. Millennials and Gen Z consumers care about whether their clothes are made from environmentally responsible fabrics, whether their food is ethically sourced, and whether companies are socially responsible. When shopping, 83% of millennials consider a product’s environmental or social impact. That shouldn’t only apply to a buy-a-shoe-gift-a-shoe company or toothbrushes made from recycled plastic.
Cannabis is an agricultural industry that faces an uphill battle to become more sustainable because of factors including regulations that produce heavy packaging waste and a lack of research on best practices for environmentally-friendly cultivation. Packaging to insure products are childproof leads to excessive amounts of plastic being used, with cannabis packaging ranging anywhere from four to 30 times the weight of the products they hold.
Companies and consumers can work together to develop their own best practices. From the production side, companies can develop compostable cannabis packaging and incentivize customers to return used cannabis packaging through recycling programs. Socially responsible consumption is as important as production.
Five Recycling Ideas For Reusing Cannabis Packaging
One way for crafty consumers to reuse their cannabis packaging is to upcycle it. Cannabis consumers are often creative individuals, and this is an opportunity for them to show that off through easy DIY projects.
1. A glass jar can be a stash jar for anything.
These handy jars come in an array of sizes and are dishwasher safe. Just as any kitchen with style and sustainability features mason jars for bulk items like flour and rice, so too can stash jars hold your culinary must-haves. Fill up jars with loose teas or take them straight to the bulk spice section and swap individual-use plastic bottles for jars that will give your kitchen more character while also helping the environment.
2. Give your plant babies a starter home.
Use containers as temporary homes for starting seeds. Make sure to clean them out and drill a hole in the bottom for drainage. What better way to upcycle storage for the cannabis plant than repurposing plastic containers into holders for your other favorite plants?
3. Doob tubes hold all your small treasures and treats
Pre-rolled joints are often sold in small, airtight packaging called “doob tubes.” While it’s handy to have an odor sealed container for your stash, the single-use means a lot of waste. Their small size means they’re good for holding individual products. Take advantage of the airtight plastic to preserve cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans. Some doob tubes are glass, which look more upscale and give you more options for fun DIY projects. If you’re decorating for Halloween and want to set up a witch’s lair, fill up a bunch of tubes with water and food coloring for potion bottles. The size is also good for little party favors. Buy a large bag of M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, fill up each tube, and tie a ribbon around it for an easy and cute treat.
4. Bottles take on new life indoors and outdoors
Many people now consume cannabis via infused beverages. These sparkling waters, coffees, and other assorted beverages generally come in glass or plastic bottles similar to pop. Glass bottles can easily be cleaned and refilled. It’s a nice touch when hosting a dinner party to have glass bottles on the table with water for your guests. With a little DIY crafting, repurposing plastic containers means you can create holders for many types of small objects. By simply cutting off the top of the plastic bottle, you can make desk organizers to hold pens and pencils or even a bird feeder to hang up outside. This way, the weed consumer can get a little from nature and give a little to nature.
5. Your cannabis can’t travel, but the bags can.
LA dispensaries are required by law to use mylar in their “exit bags” given to customers before they can leave the shop. This is an un-recyclable material. It’s also a sturdy one. When traveling, use the mylar bag as jewelry storage. They often come with a built-in zipper or other way to seal the bag, which means your earrings won’t end up at the bottom of your suitcase. Instead of buying a decorative toiletry bag made from cheap plastic that will be way less cute the first time a bottle of shampoo erupts inside it, use your mylar bag. It’s easy to clean out if there is a spill. Be careful not to use them in your carry-on bag as TSA requires carry-on toiletries bags to be see-through.
Both producers and consumers have the opportunity to make cannabis sustainability a core tenant of this new industry, and while there are a lot of big picture decisions to be made on the production side, there are everyday ways consumers can contribute. Little actions done consistently can add up to big change in the long run.