Between single-serving containers and non-recyclable plastics, there are few places that serve as better examples of wasteful behavior than supermarkets. If you know what you're looking for and how to repurpose items, you can become an aware shopper and make the best choices for you and the planet.
Clearly, recycled and recyclable packaging are your best options. Items that use as little packaging as possible are also much more environmentally friendly than, say, single-serving containers. When weighing packaging pros and cons, keep this hierarchy in mind:
1. Glass wins out over canned or plastic.
While it does use more energy to manufacture and recycle, it doesn't contain the harmful chemicals that plastics and metals have. Be sure to reuse the glass containers over and over again to lessen the carbon footprint.
2. Canned produce wins out over frozen.
That being said, most cans and many frozen containers are lined with a material containing BPA. There are brands, though, such as Eden, that are BPA-free.
3. Paperboard wins out over canned, plastic or frozen options.
It is recyclable and uses less energy to manufacture, fill, and ship.
How to reduce packaging:
- Always bring your own reusable grocery bags. For a host of brands, check this out the eco-bag reviews.
- Bring reusable bags and containers for produce and bulk items. Take a look at the L-Bag Reusable Produce Bag.
- Never buy bottled water.
- Avoid single-serving containers.
- Consider powdered mixes rather than liquid drinks or frozen concentrates.
- Buy meats and cheeses from the deli rather than purchasing them in foam and plastic containers.
How to reuse containers:
- Use glass jars, such as pasta sauce jars, for food storage. They make a great alternative to plastic containers. They can also be microwaved without leaching toxins into your food.
- Instead of buying salad dressing containers, mix or make your own and store it in glass jars.
- Buy in bulk, making sure you use your own bags for transport and glass jars or other reusable containers for storage.