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Friday, 30 December 2016

Looking forward to a less packaged 2017

It isn't just me, is it? People are generally coming to the realisation that packaging is a big problem for the environment.

I was recently asked my opinion on what I thought was the worst case of packaging that I had seen. That's a tough one for me as I don't see a lot of packaging these days as, since my year of no single use plastic in 2015, I have totally changed the way I shop.

These days I buy all my meat from my local butcher where I take my own containers and the meat is put straight into those. I buy vegetables and fruit from a green grocer in my nearest town. Most of their produce is unpackaged and loose so I buy the exact quantity I need. They do sometimes "package up" some things, usually if there are items they need to sell quickly. I have sometimes bought these but I undo the bag carefully and reuse it and these clear plastic bags are recyclable in my area.

I buy dry goods from SESI Oxford  where I refill my own containers and I also know that I am getting fairly traded, ethically sourced produce too as that's the ethos of the shop.

I buy in charity shops too, where there's no packaging either.

But I had a feeling I might find some over packaging at Christmas, especially with six nieces  and nephew's visiting. To my surprise there was nowhere near the amount of packaging I usually see. It was pretty much all recyclable too. Things are looking up.

I thing the worst packaging to be seen was actually this.

This is surprising in that it seems to be a product aimed at people who want to reduce their use of resources. The idea of it is that you don't need cling film as these discs of plastic fit over your cut fruit and veg and help it last longer by stopping the cut edge from coming into contact with air. For decay to take place air, water and warmth are required for bacteria to grow. The cut edge of fruit and veg is usually moist whereas a whole piece of fruit or veg with its skin in tact is dry on the outside. That's the point of the skin. This is why people use cling film to block in the moisture and block the air out. That's also what the fruit huggers are designed to do. They are a reusable version of cling film. I am all in favour of that.

So what is wrong with this packaging? I will start by saying it is not awful. I can see that the card is separated from the plastic, which means it can easily be removed so the card and plastic can be recycled. The worst thing about it is that I can't get in it without taking scissors to it. That means I can't use the packaging to keep the unused bits together and clean for when I want to use them.

I think for something like this a better quality reusable form of packaging would be far more suitable.

Maybe a tin or sturdy plastic box like these pastry cutters I was given for previous Christmases would be too expensive to produce, but what about a clear zip lock bag. The cardboard insert can go in just the same.

Whenever I buy anything I always consider the packaging and I won't buy things knowingly that I feel are over packaged or are packaged in non recyclable material. I think there are more and more people who think like this these days. So I say I am looking forward to a less packaged 2017 because I feel that by the end of the year we may well reach the packaging tipping point. Mainstream media are getting the bee in their bonnets about it just like me. That will get more people talking about it and it WILL get manufacturers running scared and thinking of better ways to package their produce. That thought makes me very happy.

Happy New Year!

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