9 Ways to Reduce Your Daily Packaging Use
These days it’s common knowledge that excess packaging is a bad thing. And you probably don’t need us to give you a list of reasons why. So instead, we’ve made this list of practical things you can do to minimise your daily packaging consumption. You don’t have to do all of them, honestly, doing even one or two will have a positive impact. We know from experience; even the smallest changes by many of us, can really add up to make a huge difference.
1. Bring Your Own (Non-Plastic) Bag
This might be one of the easiest things you can do to significantly cut down your packaging use.
Grab a tote bag, a net bag, a cotton bag, pretty much any reusable bag not made from plastic, and bring it with you whenever you go to the shops. Every time you do this, you’ll avoid needlessly consuming another bag.
2. Keep Your Fruit and Veg Loose (Or in Your Own Bag)
Buying fruit and veg in the supermarket?
Always best to go for the loose option instead of the pre-packaged option. The pre-packed carrots in the plastic bag are usually the same price by weight as the loose ones, and this is the case for most of the other pre-packed items too.
Most fruit and veg have their own natural protective layer anyway, and you’ll be washing them before eating right? So just leave them loose, or bring your own bags to put them in if you prefer.
3. Buy Larger Units Instead of Multiple Small Ones
For anything that won’t expire in the near future, buy the largest option available. Multiple smaller units usually always involve more packaging than a single larger unit.*
4. Use Reusables
Grabbing a coffee on the go, or in need of a bottle of water to re-hydrate? If you bring a reusable along with you, you can fill it up without the need for packaging.
And no need to stop there! If you’re picking up food at the deli counter, why not bring your own tubs and enjoy a packaging-free meal? You could also use reusable beeswax sandwich wraps if you’re grabbing (or making) a sandwich.
And when it comes to cutlery, your cutlery drawer at home has all the packaging-free answers. Pop a knife and fork in your bag every time you go out, and you’ll never have to use single-use cutlery again.
5. Reconsider ‘Best Before’ Dates
When a food item passes its best before date, it might have moved past its ‘optimal condition’, but it’s still perfectly safe to eat. So don’t throw it out!
Less food thrown out, means less food bought, means less packaging used.
(If something’s past its ‘use by’ date, don’t eat it, as it may not be safe. There’s a big difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’.)
6. Actually Empty Containers Fully
There’s often a little bit of toothpaste left in the tube when we throw it out, or a little ketchup left in the bottle. So roll the tube from the bottom, take the top off the ketchup bottle and get scraping. Do whatever you can to use the full contents of every item you buy.
It all adds up. Over time you’ll end up buying less, which means less packaging used.
7. Cook With Local Produce Instead of Ready-Made Meals
Ready-made meals are usually heavy on the packaging, local/fresh produce, not so much. So whenever possible, cook with local produce.
Not only will this help you cut down on your packaging consumption, it will benefit you and your community in other ways too.
Local produce is usually always better for your health, because it’s fresher, and therefore is likely to contain more nutrients. And buying local is also better for your community’s health because it helps to support your local economy.
When it comes to your carbon footprint, local produce doesn’t have to travel as far, so there are carbon-related benefits here as well.
8. Use Your Local Refill Shop
Of course, by far one of the most effective ways to significantly reduce your packaging consumption is to shop at your local refill/zero-waste store.
These stores offer a packaging-free solution for goods like pasta, cereals, cleaning products, cosmetics and many others. Just bring your own reusable container with you, and get what you need without all the needless packaging.
9. Buy Less Stuff, Buy Circular
By taking any of the actions mentioned above, we can all quite easily reduce the amount of packaging we go through in day-to-day life.
But the truth is, if you don’t buy the thing in the first place, you won’t have to worry about the packaging at all.
So another great way to minimise your packaging use is; only buy what you really need.
And if you do really need something, searching for circular alternatives like our reusable water bottle is never a bad idea.
*Regarding larger product units containing less packaging than multiple smaller units, an example of this is given here:
“Compare, say, two cylindrical containers, one that holds 32 ounces (a quart) and another holding eight ounces (a cup) that have the same shape, i.e., the same ratio of diameter to height. To match the volume of the quart-size container, you’ll need four of the smaller, cup-capacity ones, and they’ll require about 60 per cent more plastic to hold as much as the one big container. This is because there is not a constant ratio of surface area to volume.”
This article was created by Adam Millett of Word Chameleon, in collaboration with Circular&Co.