Why We Must Take a New Approach to Plastic

By: Mike Forbes, CEO, Alter Eco

Sunday mornings may involve any multitude of rituals for some - coffee, pancakes, reading, journaling, you name it; but, for me, one of my favorite things about Sunday mornings are taking long walks through the redwood forests. This ritual allows me to connect with nature while collecting my thoughts before my family wakes up, plus, it’s a simple way of clearing my head before the start of another hectic week! 

This past Sunday, I hiked the Stream trail at Redwood Regional Park. Once I reached the top of the trail, I watched as the sun slowly peaked out from above the horizon. The sunrise began at the top of a ridge and bathed the tumbling hills in the East. As I took those first sips of my morning coffee amidst the fog, I couldn’t imagine a better view.

Photo Credit: She Explores


Later in the day, the canyon fills itself with the laughter and awe of kids, many of whom will see redwoods for the first time. But earlier in the morning, the air is silent. The trail is all mine. Walking amongst the redwoods is the most humbling experience.

It takes two adults to get their arms around these hundreds of year old trees, which stretch 100-feet or more into the sky with their magnificent limbs filtering out the bright sunlight. Redwood trees are known to be survivors. They have actually started to grow in circles around the remnants of their ancient predecessors who were intensively logged in the 1960s. 

Photo Credit: Scientific American


What also amazed me was how these giants tackle their drying habitat. As fog rolls in from the Pacific Ocean and California’s Central Valley, the upper canopy of the redwoods suck in the air’s moisture and shower their roots with much-needed water. These mammoths are the protectors of the ecosystem they inhabit.

It’s moments like these where I truly relax and recognize how small we are in the big scheme of things.

But on this hike, my thoughts were interrupted by this along the side of the trail:



I didn’t see just one of these, but a dozen or more. The floor of this magical forest was littered with plastic bags of dog droppings!

I was shocked to see so many of these left for someone else to carry out, encouraging others to do the same. We have forgotten the advice given to those walking into our national parks: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footsteps. Pack out what you pack in.”


This is why we have to take a new approach to plastic. 

Even in California, where we are as ‘green’ as it gets, convenience still rules. Multiply this by the millions of people who visit our national parks every year, and it’s the reason why the MacArthur Foundation says plastic will outweigh fish in our oceans by 2050. We’re simply drowning in it, and it’s everywhere—even in our redwood forests!

And on that Sunday morning, I couldn't help but feel proud of Alter Eco’s leadership in developing better plastic alternatives.

  • Our chocolate truffle wrappers are fully compostable, made from an amazing combination of eucalyptus and birch tree fiber.
  • By 2022, Alter Eco is hoping to remove the plastic outer wrap from most of our products and replace it with more environmentally friendly solutions.
  • We’re also researching more eco-friendly options for our burgeoning e-commerce business.

This change can be led by anyone. Manufacturers, retailers, and consumers can each make deliberate choices to sacrifice convenience for the sake of protecting our planet. Whether that’s investing in compostable doggie bags or making the effort to pick up the trash we see on the side of our beloved trails, every little or big effort counts. And the more we -- as companies, as individuals -- lead by example, the more others will follow. 

In the meantime, see you on the trails! 


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