Have you experienced the following: you’ve just returned home from the supermarket, and the simple act of unpacking and putting away your groceries causes your garbage and recycling bins to overflow? There are a few simple tips to reduce the amount of packaging waste entering your home. Consumers are often frustrated by inflated packaging for small items, products that have three layers of packaging, or even fruits and vegetables that are unnecessarily wrapped in layers of plastic. It is possible, however, to consciously avoid a lot of packaging waste. We’ll show you how.
1. Packaging as a Sign of Price Inflation
Potatoes in plastic wrap? A tiny serving of fruit in a heavy plastic container? A salad to-go inside a mountain of plastic? Take the first step by avoiding such packaged items completely. It’s often an easy way to save money, as items packaged to-go are much more expensive than the same groceries without packaging.
2. Take Your Own Bags and Containers
It’s time to think beyond the cloth shopping bags you should always have on hand (right?) and pack along smaller bags used for bagging fresh fruits and vegetables. Working toward a packaging-free shopping experience also means avoiding thin plastic bags in the veggie section.
We tested using our own cloth bags in a variety of supermarkets, organic grocery stores, coops, and discount chains to see how cashiers would react. In short, no one had a problem with reusable cloth bags for bagging fruits and vegetables. The most important step is remembering to bring them along in the first place. The same tip also worked at bakery counters – it’s that easy to prevent another one-use paper or plastic bag from ending up in the landfill.
Many stores will allow you to fill your own containers with deli items, from cheeses and sliced meats, to hors d’oeuvres and hot items. Ask the deli staff at your local store for assistance.
3. Buy in Stores with Bulk Bins
The easiest way to avoid packaging is to frequent stores that sell as many items as possible in bulk bins. Around the world, a movement of bulk-only, packaging-free stores is growing; but even your local coop and farmers’ market are sources of unpackaged products. You can buy just the amount you need, filling your own reusable containers, thereby avoiding unnecessary waste. Everything from noodles to rice, lentils to coffee beans, sweets to soaps are offered in unpackaged form.
But what about beverages? There’s no need to buy bottled water — tap water is regularly tested and scientifically proven to be safer and of better quality. Invest in a reusable water bottle or two, or simply refill and reuse any empty bottles you might already have around the house.
by Utopia Team