Did you know that a quarter of all domestic waste is packaging which can be difficult or impossible to recycle? Single-use plastics and other contaminated food packaging waste is a major problem.
Most people are now well aware of how harmful plastic is to the oceans and other natural environments, so it’s a common goal to reduce the amount of packaging waste one creates. Although it can be hard to avoid packaging entirely, cutting back on the amount of waste that is produced by the food you eat might be easier than you think.
Below are seven ways on how to reduce food packaging waste:
1. Say no to plastic bags
The statistics around food packaging waste are truly alarming. In terms of overall grocery shopping waste reduction, this is probably the single most impactful thing that you can do. This includes not only big plastic bags but produce bags also.
You’re going to wash your fruit and vegetables when you get home anyway right? There is no need to put them in a plastic bag. Using your own reusable cloth produce bags for larger purchases is also more durable and way better for the environment.
2. Don’t buy food wrapped in plastic either
When possible, opt for the alternative food packaging that doesn’t include plastic. Compared to other types of packaging, plastic has a very limited number of recycling life cycles. Class and metal, on the other hand, can be recycled practically infinitely and are much less likely to end up in a landfill.
If you’re looking to avoid the amount of permanent trash that you add to our planet, reach for food packaged in metal and glass, both of which can easily be upcycled and used for gifts, crafts, or food storage. Ideally, your material of choice should pass the seal integrity test, which ensures the package is properly sealed before it is delivered to the customers.
3. Buy big
When it comes to items with a long shelf life, you’ll be saving yourself a trip to the store and doing the environment a favour if you reach for the largest container. Buying in larger quantities eliminates several smaller containers of products, which are likely to end up getting thrown in the trash.
Of course, it is important to consider the expiry date and weigh whether or not you’ll actually be able to use all of the product before it goes bad, you don’t want to end up simply creating another form of waste.
4. Transition to a more plant-based diet
With a multitude of benefits for your health and the planet, cutting out more animal products form your diet is also likely to help you reduce the amount of food packaging waste that you create. For health and safety concerns, most animal products are packaged in nonrecyclable plastic packaging that gets tossed out once the meal is over.
Incorporating more meals that revolve around fruits and vegetables means that you’ll be putting a serious dent in your trash output while contributing to overall energy, water, and greenhouse gas reduction.
5. Get busy in the garden
Although not everyone has space for a full-size garden, remember that every little bit helps. In addition to being a fun hobby that you can take pride in, gardening will also save you money and eliminate a lot of packaging waste from your lifestyle.
Just think about the money and plastic you waste buying fresh herbs all the time. A simple pot on your patio or windowsill can easily prevent this while giving you unlimited access to fresh flavours in the kitchen. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, canning is another great way you can preserve excess garden produce.
You’ll have treats to look forward to all year and will significantly reduce food packaging waste. Just dedicate a few weekends to canning during the summer and you’ll save yourself a ton of money and landfill space.
6. Buy less prepared foods
Speaking of doing things yourself, the more food you make from scratch, the more food packaging waste you’ll save. Items we commonly buy in plastics containers, like salad dressings, ketchup, mustard and other condiments, can all be easily prepared at home. You might even realize that you like your creation better than the store-bought brand.
7. Make composting and recycling part of your routine
If you simply don’t have access to as many package-free food options, it is critical to incorporate composting and recycling practices into how you run your kitchen. By composting your paper and cardboard and recycling your glass and metal, you’ll be keeping them out of the landfill and can feel better about the food purchases you make.
If you don’t have a garden or city-wide compost pick-up, you can look into drop off locations or pick up programs that make composting more accessible. You can also check with family, friends, or neighbours – to see if they have a compost you’d be able to contribute to.