Thinking Outside Shrink Wrap: Ways to avoid wasteful packaging

It’s no secret that humans are consumers. Except for the most disciplined individuals among us, the typical human starts consuming non-renewable, non-recyclable products from the moment they are born. Think about it: disposable diapers, cartons of milk, soap, clothing. While typical babies can’t control these choices for themselves, it just proves that consumption is deeply ingrained in most cultures from birth.

Breaking the cycle can be painful and uncomfortable, just like any other bad habit that you’re trying to get rid of. But if you think of all that can be gained from changing just a few of your shopping and consuming behaviors, you just might find the motivation you need.

One of the biggest environmental problems related to over-consumption is the production and disposal of excessive packaging. Because we are a society that is programmed to buy everything in an attractive box or bag, over a lifetime we can contribute to the disposal of hundreds of thousands of highly toxic boxes and bags into landfills where they’ll slowly poison our soil and water. Not to mention taking up space in our houses, cupboards and refrigerators.

Stop the wasteful packaging cycle by keeping these simple tips in mind next time you’re at the store.

Bring Your Own Bags/Refuse a Bag: Did you know that over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags are consumer annually, or almost 1 million per minute? Most of these bags are only used once before ending up in the landfill. Some bag recycling programs do exist, but many curbside recycling programs still won’t accept them. Avoid the issue of paper or plastic by bringing your own canvas or hemp sacks whenever possible, and refusing extra bags, like double bagging meats or bagging produce that doesn’t need it.

Post-consumer = Smart Consumer: Some manufactures of goods and even foods have started to wake up to the costs and consequences of excess packaging and are beginning to offer packaging (and products) made with post-consumer content. Seek out these brands and support them!

Concentrate on Concentrates: Some times good things really can come in small packages, and small packages mean a smaller carbon footprint. Look for products that you can buy in concentrated forms that will save money and produce less carbon emission to make and transport. Common concentrates include juices, soaps, and household cleaning projects.

Got an easy tip for reducing the amount of packaging we waste? Share it in a comment!

Image found on Flickr's Creative Commons: scrapthispack


LMj Sunshine

Thank you for interesting article and comments.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for interesting article and comments.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for interesting article and comments.

Lenora S.
Lenora Southwood5 years ago

Well said Sandy V,i have had the same trouble.

Jay Kilby
Jay Kilby6 years ago

You can sign a petition asking Hewlett-Packard to reduce wasteful packaging at

wizzy wizard
wiz wi6 years ago

there far to much packing on good they make it so to look more than there realy is inside

Faith L.
F L6 years ago

Of course it's also important to remember the bad health effects of most pre-packaged food available in the grocery stores!

Beatrice S.
.6 years ago

I always bring mine too

Cindy Earl
Cindy Earl6 years ago

an enlightening article, thank you

Natalia Hilmantel

I agree with Rylisa A. - backbags are great for shopping...

and those bananas - is it even real?