Imagine getting more of your food with little or no packaging. Bananas, of course, are beautifully packaged by nature. You can already limit packaging when buying produce (if you bring your own reusable produce bags) and bulk items like flour and nuts (using bags the store provides). Oh, and if you grow some food, no paper or plastic at all. Or you could shop at a farmers’ market and bring your own cloth bags. So it can be done! In fact, in my book I called it “Nude Food.”
This matters because, as you probably know, an immense amount of paper and plastic packaging is tossed into landfills every year. Did you know that 8,000 plastic bottles go into landfills around the world EVERY SECOND? You can read more about crazy-making packaging in an article by Elizabeth Gettelman, who dug into a range of sources and found these tidbits:
• Americans create a million tons of extra garbage every week between Thanksgiving and New Year.
• In 2007, the average American threw away 520 pounds of packaging.
• Globally, the packaging business is a $429 billion industry.
In one East Bay town, the environmental group Sustainable Lafayette is working with the city, the Chamber of Commerce, the waste authority, and the school district to reduce solid waste. The goal is to achieve 75% waste diversion. And food packaging is a large part of this. San Francisco has already banned plastic bags, and Seattle did the same this month. So there’s hope!
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to help reduce this tragic waste. Remember your cloth bags when shopping. Buy in bulk (even though the small juice cartons may be tempting if you have young children). Favor products and manufacturers that have reduced their packaging.
Huge progress is being made, and you can be part of it.