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Thinking Outside Shrink Wrap: Ways to avoid wasteful packaging

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!

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Image found on Flickr's Creative Commons: scrapthispack

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601 comments

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6:58PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

Thank you for interesting article and comments.

8:58PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Thank you for interesting article and comments.

8:57PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Thank you for interesting article and comments.

12:16AM PST on Dec 29, 2010

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

4:29PM PST on Feb 21, 2010

You can sign a petition asking Hewlett-Packard to reduce wasteful packaging at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/10/campaign-to-reduce-package-waste

1:02AM PST on Feb 19, 2010

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

9:09PM PST on Feb 18, 2010

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

1:24PM PST on Feb 18, 2010

I always bring mine too

5:12AM PST on Feb 17, 2010

an enlightening article, thank you

3:01AM PST on Feb 17, 2010

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

and those bananas - is it even real?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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