I’ve been paying more attention to packaging recently. Packaging is a huge contributor to waste. Think about all the times you’ve wrestled with a package to get it open so you can use the thing you bought. I’ve sliced myself a couple of times on those hard plastic packages that computer parts often come in, that you have to get into with a hacksaw. Facial products like creams are bad; the outer package will be huge, with a plastic overwrap and then cardboard and then sometimes another piece of plastic, and the end product will be a teeny, tiny little jar of something. Very bad for the landfills.
One of my pet peeves is the little square holders that sometimes come on bread or bread-like products. I can’t ever get them back on once I’ve opened the package, so I’ve got to replace it with a twist tie. (Recycled from a previous loaf of bread, of course.) It’s a small piece of plastic, but it’s going to the landfill, nonetheless.
I’ve also bought bread that came in two wrappers. The outer wrapper would be the usual plastic sleeve, but then inside is a cellophane-like second wrapper. Maybe it’s supposed to keep it fresher, but those loaves don’t seem to last any longer than the ones with a single wrapper. I can always find a second use for the typical outer wrapper for a loaf of bread (ummm – large dog = large amounts of doggie waste that have to be picked up). But there’s nothing to do with the cellophane-type substance except toss it.
I’ve seen three types of packaging for eggs in the grocery store. The regular, store-brand eggs come in styrofoam. Our city recycling won’t take styrofoam, but Publix does provide a recycling bin for egg cartons and styrofoam trays. There is one brand, that I haven’t bought, that comes in cardboard. The brand I bought most recently – grain fed, no antibiotics, no hormones (but not labeled organic) – was in a clear
The original packaging
plastic container that had a recycling number, so it can go in the bin, and a piece of paper for the label, which can also be recycled. They’re more expensive, but I may stick with them both for the better quality and the better packaging.
Usually, when you buy a pack of underwear, it comes in a plastic bag. Last week, though, I was pleased to see that Hanes has started putting some of theirs in packaging that consists of only cardboard. No plastic, no tags to cut off; just one piece of cardboard that can go straight to the recycling bin. Very nice.
Those little plastic tie things that attach tags to garments drive me crazy. Again, they’re not very big, but they’re never going to go away. It is possible to use thread; I’ve seen it done. I guess that’s more expensive. Argh.
CFL light bulbs come in plastic, whereas regular bulbs are in corrugated cardboard. I’m sure that’s because the CFLs have mercury, and need extra protection against breakage. The plastic is recyclable. However, it’s still plastic. Too bad.
I bought film last week; it had been a while. I’ve always saved the little canisters that the film roll comes in; they make great holders for all kinds of things. I’ve got buttons, bobby pins, and different sized nails in my old ones. The problem with them was that the canister was black; you couldn’t see what was in it, so you either had to open it or label it. Now, with this new film, I see that the plastic is nearly clear, and therefore see-through. So you can tell what’s in the canister without opening or labeling. Very nice! I wonder why they didn’t think of that sooner??
Vegetables at the grocery store are pre-wrapped, for the most part. That’s annoying. I like to see what I’m getting. That’s just another reason to go to the farmers’ market.
Companies that reduce packaging should be rewarded with our dollars. Pay attention to the packaging on the things you buy, and see what you can do to support reduced packaging.