The Packaging Problem
Packaging is a necessary evil. We need it to hold and protect our food – a trip back from the supermarket with unpackaged sliced bread and loose grapes would be quite an ordeal! But when we’ve used it for a few short minutes or hours, what happens then?
Not all packaging can be recycled, in fact the majority of it can’t be. So it ends up in landfill or it contaminates bags of recycling due to well meant ‘wish-cycling’. (Wish-cycling is putting everything into your recycling, in the hope that it can all be dealt with. But when something isn’t recyclable, often, the whole batch has to be rejected and sent to landfill.)
Knowing what can be recycled and what can’t is a challenge. There’s so many variations in packaging and so many different rules in towns and cities up and down the country.
Packaging that can be recycled requires a significant amount of energy and resources to be recycled. And different types of packaging require different amounts of energy and different recycling process.
The truth about recycling is it creates pollution, emits greenhouse gasses and contributes to climate change.
Recycling doesn’t compensate for having too much packaging in the first place. Instead, it’s always better to refuse, reduce, reuse or rot (compost), before recycling.
So how can we reduce the amount of packaging we use?
Putting everything into your recycling, in the hope that it can all be dealt with.
How to Reduce Your Packaging Waste
We love experimenting and discovering new ways to reduce our packaging waste. Here are some of our favourites.
- Carry your own reusable water bottle, coffee cup, cutlery and straw. This way you’ll avoid having resort to single-use items when you’re on the go.
- Cook at home more and limit takeaways and food deliveries to special occasions.
- Shop at bulk stores or farmers’ markets, or take your own containers/bags to the supermarket for loose produce.
- Buy products that have reusable or compostable packaging.
- Watch out for online shopping that comes wrapped in a mountain of packaging. If you can buy locally, do so. It’ll help support your local high street too.
- Make your own DIY products rather instead of buying. (Keep a lookout, we have recipes coming soon.)
Ditching Packaging Altogether
Bulk buy and zero-waste stores are on the rise in large towns and cities across the UK.
These stores stock all manner of items that you can buy as much or as little as you need.
By taking your own containers (or some stores encourage you to use their own paper bags where possible) you’ll be creating much less packaging waste.
You’ll find food items such as nuts, seeds, beans, dried fruits and all sorts of grains and flours. Plus you can fill up your washing up liquid, washing powder, shampoo and shower gel containers.
The real selling point is you only pay for what you need. So you’re not only saving on packaging, you’re saving on waste and saving money, too!
We hope to see more of these kinds of shops, especially in smaller towns and villages.
The more demand, the more we’ll see!
The Zero Waste Movement
The zero waste movement is also gathering pace. It’s incredible to see “zero-wasters” showing off pictures of tiny glass jars containing a years’ worth of waste.
Whilst this is hugely inspiring, impressive feat, it shouldn’t make the rest of us feel guilty for our own waste. One glass jar is almost impossible for most of us.
It’s important to approach all things with a balanced mindset. Striving to minimise waste is great, but not at the expense of an otherwise unsustainable or entirely impractical solution.
Fresh produce not wrapped in plastic, but flown in from another country still contributes to carbon emissions.
We need to weigh up all the factors and consider all options to make more mindful, informed decisions.
Search for Even More
- Food waste
- Plastic free
- Fair trade
- Zero waste