I went supermarket shopping this morning. An ugly experience by any measure. I cannot imagine how any sane person can enjoy walking into a supermarket to complete the weekly shopping. I get in and out as quickly as I can.
A pile of rubbish in my shopping
That said, no matter how unpleasant the shopping experience is, the unpacking experience, at home in the kitchen, is far more distressing. Today I shopped for one and used two reusable bags, yet the amount of rubbish I brought home with me was enough to half fill one of the bags. In other words, 25% of all that I brought home was packaging - and all of it was thrown out.
I can only imagine that a similar situation exists for just about every other shopper. There was the bag and the box that the loose-leaf tea comes in. There was the cardboard with a moulded plastic front that the batteries came in. There was the plastic frame with a cardboard back that the razor blades come in. There were the high-quality, hard-to-open bags that the sultanas and muesli came in and the high-quality plastic containers with double sealing that the yogurt came in. The carrots were in a bag as were other salads.
I can imagine that some of this packaging is unavoidable. The product has to be in something. That said, much of this packaging is unnecessary, some is more elaborate than it needs to be and I should be doing more to buy vegetables that are not in bags.
But this is just the tip of an enormous iceberg.
I purchased a television recently and wow!!. In addition to the cardboard box the unit came in, there was the poly packaging in the box, the plastic bags the leads and fittings were in, the individual packaging of many items in larger bags, the ties used to bunch leads up and smaller packaging around various items. I found a similar thing when I purchased an iron, a fridge, a toaster and various other items over recent years.
The ABC recently screened a very popular series called The War on Waste. It highlighted very graphically the volume of rubbish that goes to landfill. Much of this waste is landfill. While some of this waste is recyclable, much of it is not. And even that which is recyclable requires an enormous amount of energy to produce.
Some packaging is necessary to stop product being damaged while being transported. That said, much of the packaging we are confronted with each day is for marketing or display purposes only. Much of this packaging is overly complex, clumsy and can be simplified. Much of it makes items difficult or even dangerous to open.
Consumers need to take a stand to encourage, if not force, manufacturers and retailers to take a more environmentally and socially sound approach to packaging. We as consumers also need to take responsibility for reducing the packing we accept.
We all need to:
The more we can do to reduce the amount of packaging, the more we can reduce the amount of useless junk going to landfill, the energy used in making or recycling packaging while increasing the ease with which we access items purchased. I hate trying to get batteries out of a blister pack. And I have no doubt I am not alone.
While we are at it, we can refuse to accept flyers handed out on the street, or junk mail inserted in our letterboxes. In addition to being poor promotion, much of this material is nothing more or less than rubbish.
Most packaging, most flyers and most junk mail does nothing to make your life any better and ends up polluting our planet. So why not reject it?