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Packaging Waste Reduction

Containers and packaging make up about 32% of the municipal waste stream. Fortunately, many of the tips to reduce packaging can also save you money on your shopping bills. For example, many staples like oatmeal, sugar, raisins, and such are available in bulk, packaged only in a bag. This saves material compared to products packaged in a bag inside a box and bulk products can be much more economical. Some cereals are also available in bags and can be considerably less expensive. Stores may have a separate bulk aisle or you may find bulk foods at farmers markets.

Farmers markets provide many opportunities to obtain fresh locally grown foods with little or no packaging. In the old days, folks took their wicker market baskets to fill with fruits, vegetables, and even eggs with no packaging at all. Now you might prefer to carry your eggs in an egg carton, but you can save it and take it back for reuse. You can also save fiber fruit boxes, bags, or other clean wrappings to return to the vendor. Get some cloth bags with sturdy handles to replace plastic or paper grocery bags. They’re easier to carry, hold more, and can be reused for years.

Another tip is to purchase the largest size product that you can use before it goes bad. Larger containers are inherently more efficient because the surface area of a container increases less rapidly than the volume it contains. You can transfer the contents to smaller containers to make it more convenient. For example, take applesauce from a large jar and put it into small reusable containers to take to work and school. Transfer laundry detergent from a huge bulky container into a more convenient package for daily use. Plus larger sizes are generally cheaper, but do the math and calculate the price per unit to be sure.