Pea Pods vs. Plastic Packaging

23 May

In an ideal world we would have no packaging on food. We would eat right off the tree all year around and our earth would smile back at our perfectly environmental lifestyles. The reality is that we cannot completely escape food packaging. Although, one important thing to note when trying to cut back on food packaging is the benefits food packaging can have on our solid waste footprints. Often we try to live as green as possible with very good intentions. Although despite our good intentions sometimes there are other means of waste reduction when it comes to food packaging rather than just cutting out the packaging itself.

In underdeveloped countries often food packaging is incredibly limited or nonexistent altogether. It is also in these countries that food losses of 30-50 percent often occur. In the United States, where food packaging fills the grocery store shelves food losses are less than 3 percent.

Food packaging can decrease solid waste generation. Packaging protects our food from bacteria, oxygen, light and disease that can come form insects and other small creatures getting into food before it ends up on your dinner table.

Food packaging can reduce waste. For example, a pod of fresh peas is 62 percent inedible. In order to get a pound of fresh peas, about 2.6 pounds of peas and pods would have to be purchased, resulting in 1.6 pounds of discarded pods. However, buying 1 pound of frozen peas leaves the customer with only a 1-ounce plastic pouch to dispose of. The pods of the frozen peas remain at the food processor where they are turned into recyclable by-products such as animal feed. In New York City alone, consuming packaged vegetables annually eliminates the need to dispose of over 100,000 tons of fresh produce waste.

The U.s Chamber of Commerce developed an estimate:

On average, every pound of paper packaging eliminates 1.4 pounds of food waste. Plastic is even more efficient. One pound of plastic packaging reduces food wastes by 1.7 pounds.

Although food packaging can reduce solid waste that does not mean we are off the hook when it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling. Aluminum cans can be recycled an unlimited amount of times without their physical properties degrading. More than 60 percent of aluminum cans are recyclable so put in the extra effort to do so!

We can be encouraged that a lot of food manufacturers are trying to eliminate the size and weight of packaging and to use recyclable materials for packaging.

Aluminum cans are about 25 percent lighter than when first introduced.

Here are some simple ways you can reduce your food waste as well as reduce food packaging:

1. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of that in cans, frozen boxes and bags.

2. Buy in bulk, using your own containers from home

3. Buy big boxes of cereal instead of individually packaged cereals.

4. Refrain from buying individual “snack-sized” boxes

5. Buy a large tub of yogurt instead of individual servings

6. Make your own popsicles using reusable molds.

Do you have any of your own tips to reduce food packaging? Share them with us!

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One Response to “Pea Pods vs. Plastic Packaging”

  1. Brian January 28, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    Around our area, the council has reduced the rubbish collection frequency. While people were initially outraged, it really has made us think about the packaging we use and waste. Buying larger amounts when sell-by dates allow it is a really easy way of cutting down.

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