Would you like water with your packaging?

One of my biggest pet peeves is the amount of packaging on everyday products. It’s not just that everything has to be packaged; it’s that everything has excess packaging.

Too much!

For instance, when you go to the store to buy toothpaste, it comes in a plastic tube which is covered by a cardboard box. If you are buying a bulk package, the boxes will all be covered in plastic wrap. When you go home, the plastic wrap is then thrown in the garbage and the cardboard box is (hopefully!) recycled. Once the tube is empty, it gets thrown away as well. This is not unique to toothpaste. Fast food comes in Styrofoam or other containers which are then piled into a bag. Cereal comes in a plastic bag, surrounded by a cardboard box. Meat from the grocery store comes in a Styrofoam tray, covered in cellophane; both materials do not naturally break down and can not be recycled. Small items, such as camera memory cards, are put in very large plastic or cardboard packages so they will stand out better on store shelves. Water also comes in a plastic bottles, usually sold at bulk at grocery stores where multiple plastic bottles are wrapped together in plastic.

So what is the big deal about having excess packaging? For starters, the more packaging a product is wrapped in, the more energy is required to produce the packaging materials, and the more green house gas emissions are produced in the manufacturing of that product. Also, there is more waste attached to that product, which takes further energy to sort. Usually, that waste either ends up in a landfill, or blows away in the wind, often to end up polluting our environment. While cardboard is recyclable, it takes processing to get it to a reusable state and, of course, that uses even more energy.

Plastic

A trend that continues to grow in the packaging industry is the use of plastic which can be harmful, not only to the environment, but to humans as well. Most plastic is not recyclable and does not naturally breakdown, so the more we can reduce the use of plastic, the better.

In the past decade, there has been a huge movement to stop using plastic or paper grocery bags, and start carrying cloth bags instead. That movement has been quite successful, so now it is time to start a new movement. My family and I are trying to reduce the amount of packaged goods we buy, and we try not to support brands that have ridiculous over-packaging. But it takes more than individuals’ good intentions.

It is time for everyone to realize that this wastefulness has to stop. It is time for all of us to take a stand and protect the future of our planet!