Tag Archives: packaging

“…it’s just so last century”

29 May

For the last Wednesday in May we were inspired to share about a grocery store in London, UK that offers only reusable packaging!  It’s called Unpackaged and began as a London market stall in 2006.

unpackaged veggiesUnpackaged is a unique and brilliant concept that is so simple it hurts, especially considering the sheer amount of packaging waste that is ridiculously filling our planet’s landfill sites. Within the beautifully designed shop, organic whole foods, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, even refillable oils, vinegars and wines are all available to place straight into your own containers, that you will have brought along with you … if you haven’t then reusable bags are available.” (weheart.com)

Unpackaged’s philosophy is really quite inspiring.  We’ve found many locally owned grocery stores are almost packaging-free but still use bulk bin plastic bags, disposable containers, single-use wrapping, etc.  Unpackaged has banned all packaging whatsoever!  In their own words..

The Problem with Packaging

Whilst some packaging is necessary in our modern industrialised food chain, unnecessary packaging is a waste:

Cost: It increases the price of the goods you buy. You are charged twice – first when you buy overpackaged products and then through council tax for disposing of your rubbish.

Waste: It wastes resources at every level: production, storage, transport and disposal.

Pollution: Landfill and incineration are the two main ways of dealing with un-recyclable packaging waste. These are major pollutants for people and the environment as they release greenhouse gases.

What about recycling? While some packaging is recycled, most ends up in landfill sites and some packaging is difficult and impossible to recycle. Recycling is certainly part of the solution, but it will only work if we use less packaging and adopt more ‘reusable’ ways of doing things – Unpackaged is based on this ethos.


Reduce by only buying what you need
Reuse by bringing your containers for a refill
Recycle what you can’t reuse

And… if you can’t reuse or recycle it then don’t buy it!

unpackaged bulk bins

“It’s hard to visit a landfill site without being struck by the craziness of taking very valuable minerals and resources out of the ground, using a lot of energy, turning them into short life products and then just dumping them back into the ground. It’s an absolutely monumental waste of energy and resources. As someone from the fashion industry might say, its just so last century.” (Michael Pawlyn, The Guardian, November 21 2005)


Rate Your Wrapping…

10 May

While doing our research on different issues surrounding packaging this month we came across a very helpful teaching resource to encourage critical thinking while shopping.

If you do have to buy something new (food, household items, books, stationary, clothes, etc.), clearly the best thing to do is to buy naked items.  Goods that are not wrapped, held or packaged in anything!  Really – does your pen need to be in between a plastic shield and a cardboard backing?
However, if you must purchase something that is contained in something else (hopefully at least recyclable!), see this handy sheet above to consider as you go.

And here’s the stellar student handout to accompany it:

Sayonara Saran-Wrap!

2 May

Welcome to May when our focus is on packaging.  Last year we wrote about disposable paper cups, The Clean Bin Project, a lenten plastic fast, and closed off with a great post on single-use plastic bags, a Ted Talk on the pacific garbage patch & living life without plastic… Check out May 2011‘s posts to catch up.

For today we want to encourage you to evict the plastic wrap that has been living in your kitchen drawers for far too long and welcome in some handy alternatives!

Why make the switch??   Yes plastic wrap (Saran, Ezeewrap) can be convenient to wrap up odd sized food items for storage, or to cover a dish missing its lid.  But plastic wrap  is rarely reused and is very difficult to recycle.

Plus – to make plastic so thin and pliable plasticizers are used which can leach harmful chemicals into  hot or fatty foods.  These chemicals are said only to be harmful when we’re exposed in large amounts, however we must consider the compound effect of how many times we’re exposed to harmful chemicals every day and how many toxic items we add to our landfills which in turn can pollute our soil, air and water…

It is true that both Glade and Saran make a PVC-free plastic wrap but it’s still a single-use plastic product.  Tin foil is considered a better alternative since most municipalities will accept it in their recycling.  Although it is incredibly resource-intensive to mine and refine putting it no further ahead than plastic wrap in terms of environmental impact.

So aside from the obvious solution of using reusable containers, here are a couple of reusable ‘wraps’ if you are still in desperate and immediate need to wrap something….

  1. Reusable storage container covers made from laminate cloth.  Apartment Therapy includes photos and a very handy DIY guide for making your own.  Check out these beauties:
  2. Abeego Flat Wraps – beeswax infused hemp cloths. Watch the video to learn how to use these genius things:

These wraps are especially awesome because Abeego is totally plastic free!  Their packaging includes: Glassine paper, labels printed with soy based ink.  Here’s a little blurb from their product:

Abeego products are inspired by nature and believe natural materials are ideal for keeping real food fresh. The blend of pure ingredients, known for their preservative properties is the essence of Abeego. Abeego crafts natural and original food storage, used multiple times and in many ways that you can feel good about whole-heartedly.
Abeego was created in 2008 as an alternative to plastic film for food storage. Plastic film has only existed for fifty odd years. The human race has been storing food for ages.
Roll or fold Abeego and keep it with your other food packaging or your linen drawer. Or layer between cutting boards to store flat.

Their website shows you how to use them, care for them and they even send you a stack of “Abeego Bits” which can be used as a replacement for tape when you order them.

Any other ideas on plastic wrap alternatives??  Leave us a comment!