BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Plastic bags are one the environment’s main enemies. More than one million plastic bags are used around the world every minute and they take years and years to actually break down. In an attempt to lessen the usage of plastic bags, grocery stores charge a small amount for each bag and try to promote reusable fabric bags; places like Delhi, India, have completely banned disposable plastic bags; but this innovative company is taking a different approach.
Instead of trying to rid the world of plastic bags, which is clearly a slow and painful process, the company has made a different type of plastic bag. If you can’t beat them, join them, right?
Avani is a social enterprise based in Bali, Indonesia. The island that is mainly known for its dream-like beaches, beautiful palm trees and just overall being an island paradise, has been quickly become a tourist hotspot. With the booming economy of the island comes rising commercialization, and the inevitable issue of consumption and waste. Avani wants to rehabilitate the island by creating sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to the standard products that litter the island from tourists and locals alike.
One of the main sources of trash on the island? Plastic bags. This is where the Avani “Eco Bag” comes in. The bag is made from cassava root, a wild plant in Indonesia, and printed with nontoxic ink. Even though the bag is compostable, in the inevitable case that it does get littered it’s actually safe for wildlife to eat. In fact, the bag is also drinkable. Once hot water hits the bag, it liquifies and is safe to drink.
“Avani places its main concern in replacing disposable plastic products with sustainable materials,” said Kevin Kumala, co-founder of Avani. “Take a plastic straw for example, which is a seemingly harmless product that we use for 30 minutes to delight ourselves in a simple cocktail. What we seem to forget to remember is that this little piece of plastic will last for over 30 years in the natural environment polluting our oceans and other landscapes. The same goes for plastic shopping bags, which we use on an everyday basis for a simple grocery run.”
The Avani bags feel, look and are used exactly like a normal plastic bag, except for the fact that they are seemingly harmless to the environment. They biodegrade within 90 days, they can be recycled with paper and of course, they are harmless to animals. The company has even fed the bags to animals in their office, saying the animals enjoyed the bags so much they fought over them, and the bags have even passed an oral toxicity test.
Next to China, Indonesia produces the second highest volume of ocean plastic waste in the world and Avani is working to combat the pollution in innovative ways. “Studies have proven that every single plastic bag produced by mankind still exists today in one form or another as they take up to 200 years to decompose,” said Kumala.
The eco-bags cost two or three cents more than a standard plastic bag, meaning they’re about double the cost. Obviously a small price to pay for sustaining a healthy environment.
Eco-friendly plastic bags aren’t the company’s only claim to fame as they have created plant-based bioplastic coffee cups, 100 per cent eco-friendly wooden cutlery, biodegradable take away containers and 100 per cent chlorine free paper straws.
Find out more about Avani below.