Are you concerned about the amount of excessive packaging our food comes in nowadays?
I have just had lunch and it is simply amazing how much packaging our food comes in nowadays. As I already recycle as much as possible, I am wondering what else I could be doing.
What would it be like to actually eliminate excess packaging at source?
Recycling is only part of the solution and will only work if less packaging is used in the first place. It is high time we looked at innovative ways of making do without packaging and also adopted more reusable ways of doing things.
To illustrate the challenge we face, here is a quote about evil packaging:-
“It’s hard to visit a landfill site without being struck by the craziness of taking very valuable minerals and resources out of the ground, using a lot of energy, turning them into short life products and then just dumping them back into the ground. It’s an absolutely monumental waste of energy and resources. As someone from the fashion industry might say, its just so last century.” – Michael Pawlyn, The Guardian, November 21 2005
So imagine my delight when I recently came across one individual who has started a new business based on selling foodstuffs unpackaged.
Catherine Conway, who has just launched Unpackaged, shared with me the problems of packaging:-
• Cost: Unnecessary packaging increases the price of the goods you buy. It means you are charged twice – first when you buy over-packaged goods and then through your local council tax to dispose of your rubbish.
• Waste: Unnecessary packaging is a waste of resources at every level: to produce, store and transport, remove and to dispose of.
• Pollution: The two main methods of disposing of this packaging – landfill and incineration – are major pollutants for humans and the environment and release greenhouse gases.
As for recycling, whilst some packaging is recycled, most still ends up in landfill sites and some packaging is just difficult and often impossible to recycle.
So as someone who is aware of personal social responsibility, here are some suggestions for reducing yuor packaging waste:-
1. Buy only the amount of food you need. This may sound obvious, but there was a recent report about in the UK how we all waste 30% of the food we buy. Shocking indeed.
I wonder what the percentage figure of food wastage is for the USA – I would guess it is higher than 30%.
2. Reuse as much of your packaging as possible. For example, so many people just dump the carrier bags that supermarkets so openly used to give away at one time. Now by reusing these bags some stores give you a small discount or other incentives. If have a stash of carrier bags in your kitchen, now is the time to start using them.
3. Where possible, use services like Cathy provides, whereby you can simply take your own containers and get them filled up with the quantity you need. This may also lead to cheaper prices for you too.
4. And finally, recycle, recycle and recycle.
Recycle what you can’t reuse – and if your local council doesn’t yet provide a full recycling service, then got on their case – you could even begin your own personal crusade. You know it makes sense.
Last words to Cathy who says …if you can’t reuse or recycle it, then don’t buy it!