The purpose of packaging is to prevent damage and to provide important information to the consumer about the ingredients, usage, manufacturer and country of origin. These days, clever packaging can influence a purchasing decision and can be an important component in building brand recognition.
Unfortunately, the ongoing quest to find new ways to safeguard food and transport products has become a slippery slope on the road to overload. One dollar of every ten-dollar purchase goes to the cost of packaging, and overall package waste accounts for more than half of the trash in the U.S.
While products made from renewable resources are being developed, the “3R’s” of prevention: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle remain the first line of defense. Smart shoppers know that packaging can add as much as 45 percent to the cost of a product. Shrink-wrapped, precut produce displayed on a plastic tray may look appealing; however buying this way is twice as costly.
Choosing those popular, prepackaged salad mixes can take a bite out of your food budget while adding to the avalanche of unnecessary package waste clogging our landfills.
Savvy shoppers choose the least packaged products available; a strategy that is both cost effective and practical.
1. Avoid trendy little water bottles. Those ubiquitous water bottles contribute heavily to the glut of practically indestructible plastic polluting the planet. Invest in a water filtration system and durable metal type sports bottles instead.
2. Buy Staples in Bulk. Natural food stores and coops stock bulk bins with varieties of rice, lentils, dried beans, fruit, nuts, seeds, and cereals. Buying in bulk is economical and convenient, allowing you to buy in exactly the amount you prefer.
3. Buy fabric softener and detergent and in “ultra” or concentrated strengths. Smaller containers mean fewer for the product itself and in shipping. Toothpaste packaged in conventional tubes produce 70 percent less waste than the pump-type toothpaste container. And you get almost two ounces more toothpaste in the tube then the pump.
4. Choose reusable totes to carry groceries instead of paper or plastic, to reduce waste and the toxic pollutants emitted in the manufacture of plastic bags, save trees, and avoid dependence on foreign suppliers of petroleum. Visit chicobag.com for earth friendly, reusable totes
5. Breastfeed your babies! Mother’s milk comes in the best packaging of all and human milk straight from the breast is always sterile. Breast-fed babies are less prone to childhood ailments, and don’t require all the unnecessary packaging and accessories associated with bottle-fed babies. for more information, visit breastfeeding.com.
Smart strategies reduce wasteful packaging. You can buy in larger amounts or in bulk. You can avoid products with excessive packaging and select those with packaging that can be reused or recycled in your community. Being conscious of packaging options can make a difference at the landfill and at the check out register.
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