Packaging is everywhere in our world, and it causes a lot of environmental problems because of unsustainable production and disposal methods. To me, the word “packaging” itself already insinuates that it’s pretty much a waste because it served its only purpose after you have unpacked your goodies. A lot of packaging is inevitable because it is so widely utilized, but there are steps you can take to help defeat your consumption of packaging. Reusing packaging, disposing of it in an eco-friendly way, and avoiding single-use plastic packaging are all awesome ways to apply zero-waste principles to your packaging consumption. Here are some ideas to reduce packaging at home, at the food shop, and when shipping parcels, as well as some information on both the disposal and production of packaging materials.
While at home, you probably use a lot of cling-film and foil in the kitchen to store leftovers and half-eaten produce. To save money and reduce your packaging consumption, try replacing these single use materials with:
Glass- jars and bottles
Soy wax food wraps
Silicone food covers/ lids for dishes
Silicone storage bags
Bamboo or stainless steel containers
At The Food Shop
When food shopping you will encounter a lot of food wrapped in single-use, plastic packaging. To avoid this environmental nightmare as much as possible, follow these shopping tips:
Bring reusable shopping bags
Use mesh or cotton bags for produce and other loose items like bread
Use glass jars or cotton bags to buy food in bulk
If you have to buy food in packaging, opt for materials like aluminum, metal, glass, or cardboard (make sure the cardboard isn’t lined with plastic).
Opt for plant based foods produce, rice, beans, etc.- they usually come in less packaging, and are better for your heart and wallet!
A lot of packaging is required to ship parcels, especially if the goods you’re shipping are fragile. To be more environmentally friendly when shipping, re-use materials you already have and only buy new materials when necessary. The best materials include things like:
Paper, magazines, and newspapers
Bio-degradable packaging peanuts
Mushroom, seaweed and other natural plant-based packaging alternatives
Corrugated bubble wrap
Disposing of Packaging
A lot of packaging waste is inevitable in the world we live in, so it’s important to take measures to dispose of packaging in as eco-friendly of a way as possible. This means recycling and composting all that you can, and sending the bare minimum to the landfill. Aluminum and glass are great because they can be infinitely recyclable. Plastic, on the other hand, is recycled differently based on where you live and what type of plastic it is. For example, most plastic bottles can be recycled while most plastic films cannot. Click here for more information on packaging recycling.
Production of Packaging
A very important point to keep in mind when deciding what packaging to use is not only if it can be recycled or composted, but also if the production of the packaging you’re consuming is sustainable. Are the production methods considering the environment, air, and water, keeping everything as clean and toxic-free as possible? We live in a truly great time technology-wise and we do have SO many innovative, biodegradable, and sustainable packaging choices available now that are not only environmentally-friendly in terms of their disposal, but also in their production. As far as availability goes, they exist but are not the most popular choice, so you’ll have to search for them. There are some materials though, like cork, that are both popular and sustainable in production and disposal.
Zero Waste Production + Zero Waste Disposal = Happy Planet.
What kind of zero-waste alternatives do you use to ditch single-use plastic? Are there other zero-waste packaging options that you know about? Share your ideas in comments.
Hi! I’m a full-time mom to two amazing boys. In between chasing them around, homeschooling and all other things, I really enjoy nature, reading, meditating, self-development, travelling, capturing moments on camera and, in general, trying to be a considerate and compassionate human being and teaching the same to my boys. Minimalist, zero-waste, and healthy plant-based living is my passion and my way of living, and now as an intern blog writer for Zero Waste Club, I’ll be writing about these things and spreading the message. You can find me on Instagram @montamusinska