Conscientious consumers can easily minimize their household’s waste and carbon footprint by reducing, reusing and recycling excess packaging through creative and resourceful measures.
The environmental impact of waste begins in the supply chain, continues through the consumer’s home and ends hundreds of years later when plastics breakdown. To reduce the environmental impact of consumer goods, manufacturers have been turning to lifecycle analysis programs to develop beneficial packaging and shipping materials.
These include reusable and recyclable glass containers, corrugated cardboard, which is ideal for recycling, and lightweight plastic designed to minimize transportation-related fossil fuel emissions.
Recycling Excess Packaging
Any household can minimize waste by choosing food items and food storage containers that are compatible with the reduce-reuse-recycle principal.
Reusable grocery bags and cloth produce sacs are ideal for minimizing unnecessary waste and trash. While plastic grocery bags can be recycled, lightweight produce bags are more likely to be thrown in the trash. Cloth sacs can also be used to transport bakery bread as an alternative to plastic sleeves and disposable bags.
Avoiding prepackaged produce items and salad mixes is another way to reduce waste from foam trays, plastic wrap, plastic bags and supplemental packaging. Purchasing economic family size containers rather than individual servings is one of the easiest ways to reduce packaging consumption and overall waste.
Large quantities of dry goods can also be purchased from bulk bins and transported in reusable sacs to reduce unnecessary packaging and prevent waste.
Many plastic, glass and metal containers can be reused or re-purposed before they are recycled. Plastic containers, glass jars and tin cans can be turned into garden pots or used to store and organize items.
Glass jelly jars can be turned into creative drinking glasses or used to store dry goods, spices and herbs.
Glass jars and food storage containers are among the best choices because they are reusable, recyclable and non-leaching unlike tin cans.
The hormone Bisphenol A also known as BPA is associated with plastics as well as the protective lining used inside metal cans. Studies show 90% of canned goods contained measurable levels of BPA, which leach from the plastic lining.
Although plastic wrap has a smaller environmental impact compared to tin foil, it has been named as a source of BPA. If possible, reuse tin foil that has not been soiled or cover dishes with a plate instead.
Wax paper, freezer paper and waxed bags are all eco-friendly alternatives for storing foods without risking exposure to toxins.
With a few simple steps anyone can reduce their household’s waste and carbon footprint. There are lots of other ways in which consumers can help with recycling excess packaging, and some are quite imaginative. Share any tips you have in the comments below.