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WeedmapsNews Culture & industry

How to be a Low-Waste Cannabis Consumer

July 30, 2019   5:56 pm PDT | Updated 4 years ago

As state cannabis regulations get a tighter grip on how cannabis is packaged and who can consume it, weed companies are forced into stricter packaging laws that often result into cannabis products being contained in plastic. 

And the world has a problem with plastic. According to the Ocean Conservancy, an ocean advocacy group, 8 million tons of plastic goes into the ocean each year. The Washington Post reported on a study that predicted there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans by 2050. And it's not just marine life that are affected; “microplastics,” presumably from fish that have been ingested by people, have been found in humans' stool samples in 2018 as reported by National Geographic. 

While child safety is of utmost importance, companies should be encouraged to sell products in either biodegradable or at least recyclable containers instead of the non-recyclable containers that are floating around in waterways. When packaging regulations were less strict during the era of medical marijuana, dispensaries would encourage customers to bring their own jars. Today, consumers are buying cannabis products covered in plastic, which is the antithesis of the cannabis culture.  So here are six tips on what you can do as a consumer to stay green while buying your green.

What to Know About Zero Waste 

This term was adopted as a lifestyle within the environmental movement. In short, zero waste aims to:

  • send nothing to landfills
  • reduce overconsumption of products
  • recycle plastics, metals, glass, and paper
  • donate or give away clothing and other items we no longer need
  • compost, and
  • reuse things as much as possible.

Going zero- or low-waste is a conscious consumption of things that consumers buy or choose not to buy, so that we can better our environment for ourselves and future generations. It is also not supposed to be expensive or overly complicated. 

6 Easy Ways to be a Low Waste Consumer

Recycle Your Old Containers

This may sound like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many people actually don't do this. Some dispensaries may carry plastic packaging that is recyclable. Look for any symbols on the packaging or ask your budtender what products come in recyclable packaging. Recycle by simply discarding clean and label-free containers into a recycling bin or in a free public recycling program in your community. You can also compost any cardboard boxes from joints or edibles as long as they are not lined with plastic.

For containers and plastic parts that are not recyclable, you can send to Terracycle. This company recycles the non-recyclables, diverting waste from entering landfills, waterways, or the air through incineration. This program allows consumers in the U.S. and Canada to get rid of their growing collection of containers. Green for Green, based in Boulder, Colorado, is a company that created the first cannabis container reuse network. What that means is that you can give them your containers. which will be cleaned and then re-used for future products.  

Bring Your Own Exit Bag

Opt to bring your own lockable natural fiber exit bag in retailers and dispensaries that require an exit bag. Some exit bags from shops are made of non-recyclable plastic. The Green Scissor Locking Stash Bag is an absolute must when it comes to being green. This earthy and stylish exit bag is made of 100% hemp and is fully child-resistant. It also complies with regulations for exit packaging in Oregon, Colorado, and California. It is the perfect zero-waste resolution for transporting and storing cannabis products.  

Upcycle Cannabis Containers

You can creatively reuse, or upcycle, flower or concentrate containers and jars in your home by repurposing them. You would be surprised at some of the cool zero-waste uses for containers, such as

  • One-hitter travel holders
  • Earbuds holders
  • Jars as starters for seedlings
  • Earrings and jewelry travel holders
  • Dab tool holders
  • Bobby pin holders
  • Lip balm, moisturizer, lip gloss, deodorant, or coconut oil containers
  • Containers for used safety razors 
  • Spice or herb containers
  • Office supply containers
  • Nut, bolt, and screw holders
  • Balm jars

Get Involved

Call your favorite companies or dispensaries and encourage them to use recyclable or biodegradable materials such as hemp plastics. Also encourage them to compost plant material after processing. You can also encourage other people to do the same and create a community-wide movement. 

Donate Your Jars

You can up your zero-waste game and donate washed jars to charities. Many will accept these jars for re-use to hold medical supplies or to recycle the plastic for money. Matthew 25: Ministries in Cincinnati is a great example of a medical bottle recycling program. It accepts jar donations, which help improve medical care in developing countries while also reducing waste. Find a program that works for you and which resonates with your own personal values.  

Support Environmentally Friendly Cannabis Companies

There are many ways in which you can get your message of zero waste across by voting with your dollar and supporting cannabis business that are sustainable, have zero- or low-waste practices set in place, treat their workers fairly, and are conscious about their impacts on their environment. Essentially, support the businesses that are in line with your moral values.

How do you know which businesses align with your values? For starters, check out their websites. If they are not clear, send them an email or call the company and ask. Some of the better practices of companies: 

  • Offer a discount on future purchases when you bring in your old used containers or bags. 
  • Provide recycling services for recyclable exit bags that are and for plastic containers
  • Use biodegradable plastics or hemp plastics
  • Use plastics that are at least recyclable, if not biodegradable.
  • Compost their discarded plant matter and dirt.
  • Use organic nutrients to grow their plants.
  • Provide natural fiber exit bags.
  • Employ efficient methods of water consumption.
  •  Use solar power instead of relying solely on electricity

Feature image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps