If you’ve ever received clothing through the post, it will most likely have arrived in a clear plastic “poly-bag”. The clothing industry uses 180 billion polythene bags every year, and each one will go straight into the bin once you’ve ripped it off your new purchase.
Poly-bags are an efficient choice for clothing companies because they’re super-cheap (fractions of a penny), strong, very light (which is good for keeping transport emissions low), and see-through which helps the retailer and customer. But they’re single use. They’re made from non-renewable petrochemicals – and if they make their way into the ocean, they’re pretty bad news.
What about paper and cardboard? Well, they can also be problematic. If trees have to be felled for the paper or card (i.e. not recycled), and it comes from non-sustainably harvested forestry, then the environmental impact can be very severe. Virgin paper creates roughly three times more emissions than the plastic alternative, and weighs more too, thus generating more carbon emissions in transport. Oof.