Reducing Packaging Waste

One of the things which drives me nuts about shopping is the amount of packaging. We seem to have been victims of “packaging creep.” Now just about any sort of consumer good has some type of cardboard container, two layers of hard plastic clamshell cases, a few pieces of styrofoam, and soft plastic bags surrounding everything. When you’re done shopping, and after you find a way to break upon the seemingly impenetrable packaging, you end up with half-a-dozen plastic bags. All of this plastic has to be disposed of—most of it ending up preventing natural decomposition in landfills, or collecting in the ocean.

So its nice to see that the tide may be turning. I see more people declining bags when their purchases are easy to carry (something I’ve practiced for years—I don’t need an extra plastic bag for a package of pencils or an apple!). Reusable gift bags are becoming more popular, a more sustainable option than gift wrapping. More people are using reusable shopping bags. More stores are offering bulk bin options for foods and cleaning supplies, which eliminates individual containers. Amazon is trying what should be a common-sense idea of utilizing “frustration-free” packaging, which minimizes the packaging and appears to be fully recyclable.

Small steps, but worthwhile ones to promote. How else can we cut down on the waste associated with shopping?

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3 Responses to “Reducing Packaging Waste”

  1. Gnostic Says:

    How else can we cut down on the waste associated with shopping?

    Maybe by refusing to do unnecessary shopping, shopping only for the fun of it. Or maybe to have to refuse to buy presents which are not necessary for the receiving side. maybe we should drop the gift giving and receiving mania. Maybe we need to change our culture in general. Maybe we need to have our own reusable shopping bags (out of canvas or other resilient material) for grocery shopping. Maybe we need to recycle used clothes, fabric, glass jars, etc. Maybe we need to refuse to buy anything in plastic jars. Maybe we need to leave our arrogance and pride and to study and do whatever the other nations are doing. Maybe we should do something about our economic system, since it has driven us to the culture of consumerism.

    Just thinking out loud.

    • Derek Staffanson Says:

      Gnostic, I certainly agree that we need to cut down on the consumerism. Several of my posts regarding Christmas and environmentalism encourage a less consumptive, more simple life. Given that no matter how much we cut down on consumption we will need to purchase some things, this post was to explore the consumption side.

  2. HK Bialik Says:

    This is the first year I tried to take packaging into consideration when buying gifts. Every year at my parents’ house there are two or three garbage bags full of waste from the gifts given! I tried giving gifts in reusable shopping bags instead of wrapping them, buying gifts that didn’t come in packaging (or had minimal packaging), and I even made a few gifts out of old clothes, such as a dress for my little niece. I’d like to do better next year, but it’s a start.

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