After living out on the Permaforest Trust farm for the last two months I find that somethings become really heightened for me. Like when I head into a large community / town / city and notice all the advertising, cars, people, and so much more. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been out in the wilderness for long periods of time but you get accustomed to hearing birds, seeing trees, and nature being the noise.

Toilet Paper

Picture these two examples…

Recently, I was in a cafe restroom when I noticed that extra toilet rolls were individually wrapped in plastic inside a larger plastic toilet bag wrapping. It made me wonder why they had actually packaged the rolls in this manner…

Another example being the small cellphone that I recently bought, which was placed inside a massive box of which half the box was actually just cardboard framing so that when I opened it my cellphone it was displayed beautifully to me. I seriously wanted to barf!

It is that type of packaging that is helping to contribute to the massive amount of waste that our culture is creating.

“Of the 3 million tons of rubbish generated in Beijing each year, 30 percent, or 830,000 tons, are disposed packaging. 600,000 tons, or 20 percent of the total annual total, is considered to be ‘excessive.’, according to a Xinhua report.

By international standards, packaging that accounts for more than 15 percent of the cost of the product is considered excessive.” Excessive Packaging Adds to Environmental Woes

Now people probably realize that the waste created by the high population of Beijing is more than other major cities because of their massive population, but that statistics are still really telling about what’s happening to us as consumers. The statistics presented above are relevant simply in a smaller scale, and bigger packaging like cellphones in large boxes makes a person subconciously feel like they are getting a really BIG thing. What makes us need to have that big box when purchasing a cellphone or the double wrap for toilet rolls when we purchase them?

Sure packaging is a problem but aren’t you kinda stressin over nothing?

Perhaps. But then again most of the packaging that you find on food, electronics, clothing, and other things comes from plastic. Generally, that packaging is in a form that can’t actually be broken down for reuse, and therefore is thrown away (unless someone comes up with a rad way to recycle the material). That plastic packaging is a product of processed oil that is turned into plastic, and as you’ve probably already heard there’s a growing concern that our reserves of oil are depleting. We can’t really sustain the way that we are packaging things anymore. The reason it’s gotten to this point is more out of desire from the purchasers themselves … and sooo … Super Hero [insert your name here] it’s up to you to change it back!

Mmm still not convinced I could do much dude!

I realize it’s pretty easy to think that you don’t have much say or have that much impact but you’d be surprised. Really surprised. Your purchasing choices, letters to companies about their packaging, and concious choices have an impact. It’s called Voting with Your Wallet.

For me I try to conciously do some of the following things just to reduce the amount of packaging I do end up bringing home. This isn’t about feeling guilty but more about taking baby steps to something new.

  1. Bring in those reusable bags to the grocery store — And heh if you forget your bag grocery stores have this neat little bin (usually) outside of the entrance where you can drop your used bags — grab a few clean used ones from there.
  2. Buy food at farmer’s markets — This is a good one as well because you have no choice here but to either carry your purchases in your hand, put them in a backpack, or bring your own bags. Also, you don’t get the extra packaging that is put on all the food at the grocery store produce.
  3. Buying in bulk – This means you get more of the goodness you are buying, cheaper price, and prevent needless individually wrapped goodies. “But I’m the laughing stalk of my lunchroom at work” — Hah they secretly think you are sooo eco-cool.
  4. Forget it pal! – Don’t buy the things with all that packaging…and if it’s something really good for you find a different store that carries it with no packaging (i.e. I find that organics to have heaps of packaging in big stores but not in smaller stores)
  5. Take a mug to go – Packaging comes in all shapes and sizes. A good way to reduce the amount of coffee or drink cups from being thrown in the landfill is to supply your own. Plus they might sneak more in there too!
  6. Bring a tup(perware) – Bringing your own tupperware container to a takeaway place is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you create also. Annnnd usually the store fills it to the brim with food which means that sometimes you get extra!
  7. Reuse Reuse Reuse – I kinda consider things like envelopes, big shipping envelopes, and bubble wrap to be packaging too. It’s pretty easy to put a label over those envelopes, and reuse them at least two or three more times without much ware.
  8. Write letters – Sending letters to manufacturers of specific products is a fun thing to do too. I’m not talking about 30 pages essays about how dissatisfied you are with their packaging — just a little note to either commend them on their conscious packaging or lack thereof. A few paragraphs is a big deal to them and DO count as representing more than one person’s opinion.
  9. Make your suggestions…I’d love to hear em’

I think that we tend to not realize or actually believe that we’ll have an impact with our choices. That somehow it just won’t be enough, but we have to realize that what we know and believe is enough. That doing these things DO have an impact even just being aware and talking to others about them is a huge step all in it’s own

As a wise girl at a grocery store once told me, “What are you worried about plastic bags grows on trees?”

Hold the styrofoam I’ve got heaps of my own,