29 April 2009

5 Ways to Reduce Packaging Waste

Common rubbish in a bin bag.Image via Wikipedia

The manufacture and disposal of product packaging affects the environment in a myraid of ways - from the extraction of virgen resources, emissions associated with production, the space it takes up in our landfills, to the litter on our roadsides.

While a certain amount of packaging is perhaps necessary, the main consideration of most manufacturers when it comes to packaging their products is simply to entice consumers to buy more stuff.

For most people, packaging makes up the bulk of their garbage It certainly seems to be the majority of litter I see in the streets (I suppose any advertising is good advertising right?).

Here's a few suggestions to help keep packaging out of the sea, the landfills and off the streets & roadsides:

1. Take Your Own Bags when you Shop

Need a reason why?
Five trillion plastic bags are made each year. Of these bags, one billion are thrown away, with only 1 percent finding their way into a recycle bin. The end result of this is around 1 billion birds and mammals dying each year by the ingestion of plastic. (From Treehugger: 20 Gut-Wrenching Statistics About the Destruction of the Environment)
2. Buy in Bulk

Whether you buy from your local Bin Inn bulk food store and take your own reusable containers or simply buy prepackaged food in super sized containers from the supermarket, buying in bulk means less packaging!

Shampoo would have to be a prime wasteful packaging culprit What's with offering a product that many people use every day or two in such small packages? If you want to go (almost) packaging free with your hair care use baking soda instead.

3. Make it From Scratch

Pasta sauce, biscuits, bread . . . make it yourself from real ingredients. It tastes better, is better for you, is often cheaper than the shop bought stuff . . .and there's no packaging to dispose of.

4. Brown Bag It

Take your own lunch to school or work. It will save you a bunch of money, and when you use reusable containers and cutlery it doesn't produce the packaging waste of a bought lunch.

5. Buy Less Stuff

Of course, the most effective way to reduce packaging waste is to not buy things in the first place. If it has excessive packaging leave it in the shop. Better still, write a letter to the store owner and the manufacturer and tell them why you chose not to buy their product.

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