It’s hard to stay away from excessive and wasteful packaging in a time where convenience is the key to a fast-paced and busy lifestyle. It’s can be even harder to avoid a problem you may not realize exists.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly 30% of solid waste, which equates to 80.1 million tons, in landfills comes from packaging. As far as defining what packaging waste is, it means the cardboard boxes the product comes in when it’s shipped to stores, what the product itself comes in — the stickers, plastic wrap, and even the tags.
Packaging is everywhere, from food to cosmetic products. Almost everything you buy at the store comes with some sort of wrapping and it may seem like it’s an unavoidable problem. Keep reading to find some solutions that may work for your family!
read below if you’re wondering…
reuse and recycle in new ways
bring reusable shopping bags to the store
One of the easiest ways to start on your path to less packaging is to skip the paper or plastic bags at the store by bringing your own reusable bag. Lots of grocery stores offer their own reusable bags at the checkout line for purchase. Don’t forget to deny those plastic produce bags at the store, get your hands on some reusable ones! Amazon offers a variety of materials, sizes, and styles. If you don’t know what size you need, or you need a few of each- there’s plenty of options on Amazon. For an even cheaper alternative, check your local thrift store.
buy in bulk
Buying in bulk not only limits the excess packaging you consume, but it can also save you money. When you buy in bulk at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club, the unit price is cheaper than when you buy a single version of the same item at a supermarket. Usually, the cost per unit is stated on the tags on the selves, but if not, you can find it by dividing the price by the unit of measure of the product (grams, ounces, etc.). The price at checkout will be more than it normally would be since you are buying more product, but you get your money’s worth and that means less trips to the store. A very important rule of bulk shopping is to make sure you are buying items that have a long shelf life. We don’t want to create more product waste while trying to reduce packaging! Always be sure to look at expiration dates and buy the products you know will last for as long as you need them.
For the least packaged products, try out some bulk stores near you. They offer all products by the scoop- you can take as little or as much as you need, and the price is determined by weight. They encourage you to bring your own containers or reusable produce bags to purchase the product in. This way it reduces the amount of single-use consumer packaging and all you must do when you get home is put your containers in your pantry! If you are using heavier containers such as glass mason jars, be sure to bring an extra empty one so at checkout they can weigh it and subtract the weight of the jars from the total weight once there’s product in there.
buy products with biodegradable packaging
There are more and more brands that are contributing to a less wasteful lifestyle by packaging their products in materials that can either be reused, recycled, or composted. When you’re shopping, you might want to choose products that come in glass, paper/cardboard, or aluminum so you can recycle them when you’re done. The EPA states “recycling of aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from its virgin source. One ton of recycled aluminum saves 14,000 kilowatt hours (Kwh) of energy, 40 barrels of oil, 152.32 million BTU’s of energy, and 10 cubic yards of landfill space.” This is why recycling is so important and purchasing products with materials that can be recycled is a great and simple way to save money and energy. An easy and sustainable alternative is choosing the pulp (paper, water, and grass fiber) egg cartons over the Styrofoam ones since pulp is biodegradable.