The Trouble With Packaging…

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We all have little things that bug us. You know the things, toothpaste lid not replaced, towels screwed up on the floor and the endless array of cups and saucers randomly placed around the house. Well, one of my bugs is PACKAGING. This can be the sort that is found used for food, toys, house hold items, stationery, Easter eggs (don’t get me started!) and anything that appears to need it’s own rainforest, army of factory workers, machine operating costs and the ridiculous, unneeded space to fill up the lorries and ships that move it about at great expense to finances and our wonderful planet! Breath!

But, I need to step back a little from my irritation and hone in on some more informed, rational thinking. Surely these companies who are trying to be competitive, cost effective and in keeping with today’s growing culture of caring about our environment, can’t all be using excess packaging that would be time consuming, expensive and annoying, just because it looks “pretty”? Maybe I should look at some facts.

We could all get upset by the issue that 80% of the plastic found in the ocean comes from land based sources. That’s us! The rest of it comes from lost and discarded fishing gear and plastics released at sea (according to Ecowatch). The majority of this ends up on the ocean floor. A clean up would be a mindless, endless task at this point but this doesn’t mean there aren’t organisations out there that are putting projects together to embark on cleaning up our mess. How about we help them though? Instead of just banging our heads against a brick wall to cure this problem and all the marine life affected, why not also embark on a preventative campaign to stop this from increasing at its current rate?

The re-cycling and issues with packaging is no way a new concept. There have been so called “eco-warriors” out there for many years that have always opted to be less mainstream in shopping and household habits. This must be quite an ethos to follow whilst modern living screams of easy short cuts and time saving initiatives, where ready made, pre-made and prepared is available everywhere, 24 hours a day! Considering the planet on top of everything else you already cram in to your day and tight budget really can be at the bottom of our to do lists, even if we do feel quite strongly about it.

So, why do we need packaging? Before I end up being frustrated again at my next supermarket shop, maybe I should consider the implications of “bad packaging”. Whereas there is an incredibly large amount of plastic packaging that can’t be recycled, there is a large amount of packaging that is (if we follow our local council and their waste disposal schemes), and it’s these packaging choices companies make that prevent food wastage, the issues of spillage, breakages and contamination, all of which have a huge impact on our world too!
Have I ever stopped to consider the result of lower graded plastic bottles or boxes, housing items like household cleaners and what would happen if these were damaged in transit and spilled in to the environment? How about the container full of coffee pre-packed for the shops, made un-useable and unsellable by poor packaging, creating a huge loss and waste of time in effort and cost?

So, I am going to be a little more tolerant of the general issues with packaging and the problems with providing our shops a safe, cost effective delivery of undamaged, hygienic, uncontaminated goods. I may be a little more lenient to see sturdy plastic boxed ready meals that have limited, cardboard sleeves, which by only serving one portion, can reduce the amount of food waste that we do nothing with in our average households. Large companies can move that waste for animal feed and to other initiatives that they are part of.

However, whilst I am accepting a larger picture of packaging, I will not end my disgruntlement with one of the growing issues I see appearing in our shops - the increasing demand for “mini versions” of products…You know the ones, the pocket sized packs of coffee granules, dried fruits, tissues, washing powders, crackers, chocolates, peanut butter (I kid you not!), porridge, yoghurts, deodrants, soaps, toothpastes and shampoos. All for what? Just our convenience! Not issues relating to transport, storage and contamination, just because it’s “easier” for us. Yes, we are all busy and looking for that quick answer to a problem, but if we all adopted the following behaviour, we could make a huge difference in the waste disposal of packaging.

I would like to introduce you to the cost effective, quick, and the “not new concept” of buying bigger sizes. Surely, as a nation of environmentally aware individuals, we are able to all make the decision to embark on small changes, like the charging of plastic carrier bags (I loved that, but maybe the price should increase from 5p or take them out all together as a next step?) Maybe we could all agree to buy reusable bottles that we can hold on to for personal mini, take-outs, one’s that we fill from a large product? We would however, need to take the time to clean it and refill it (surely we could do this though!): Water, holiday items, coffee, soaps and creams. This is not a new strategy, it’s just one we don’t ALL do.

So, I have a love for glass jars, with the flip tops or screw tops, coloured, patterned, old, new, whatever I see. They represent the OCD I have of refilling. How can you not be drawn towards the pretty colours and textures of items you can buy quite readily and cost effectively in larger amounts, like rice, lentils, powders, flours, pasta, grains, sugars, washing powders and pet foods. Buying these sorts of items in bulk really is an easy change we could all make and ones that a whole nation could make a huge difference with.

Down at the Daily Bread, the simple packaging of our own brand produce does not come unnoticed. Our bright yellow labels and uncomplicated taped seals are easy to pour in to refillable glass or plastic bottles and jars for ease of use and decorative storage. Our philosophy to make wholesome products affordable can see you making use of the discount applied to larger pack purchases.

There are many issues we cannot fix with our current trends and purchases but there are those we can help. Where it isn’t always possible to be “package aware”, we could make decisions to do everything we can in the situations where it is possible. For example, everyday yoghurts consumed at home, buy the bigger versions and divide in to pretty glasses, top with seeds or nuts and leave the harder to recycle, small pots for packed lunch boxes. Purchase a leak proof water bottle to take out, instead of the small branded bottles. How about the take out coffee cup? Take a reusable one to the coffee shop! Crisp packets are not recyclable due to the multi layers of foil and plastic currently used, so use large packets where you can and not the single packs.

I reckon if we all make small changes where we can, in a little and often approach, you may see less ranting from a random Nutritional Chef you may find in the supermarket aisle. She may feel less anger towards a food item she picks up that consists of both a box and a plastic sleeve (that’s just greedy!). Clear out a cupboard to house larger packets of items at home and buy big where you can. Make use of the beautiful assortment of re-usable jars and bottles and colour your home with them, where they are easy on the eye and easy to get hold of.

Try and be package aware and love our world, it’s ours to look after.

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