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EARTH MONTH – 3 Doing away with Excess Packaging


Yes, we want our goods to arrive safely, but do we really need all this?
-Image reuse

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

I haven’t finished my post about Plastic yet, so here are my winners and losers in other packaging over the last couple of weeks. It’s good to see that more of it is at least made from recyclable materials and a lot of that is being recycled -68% for paper and 91.4% for cardboard in 2021, but there is still far too much of it and it still requires energy and water to reprocess, not mention transport, collection and sorting.

Contaminated paper or cardboard can’t be reused - so watch those pizza boxes, and even clean material can only be recycled 5 to 7 times. Toxic chemicals may be used in the process, or in printing and coatings. Excess tape may clog sorting machines and excess packaging still means that more trees are used than necessary, so let’s do without it as much as we can.

Fortunately, there are now many new types of natural fillers. Some are made of shredded, stretchable or corrugated cardboard and even pre – crinkled brown paper. There are also some made from wood shavings, coconut husks or pellets made from cornstarch, which can all be recycled or composted more easily, but are at this stage more expensive than cheap and ubiquitous plastic and those costs are usually passed on to consumers. They could become cheaper as more people use them, but more likely it will take a surcharge on disposable plastic to bring about real change. For more about eco -friendly packaging materials click here..

This week's wooden spoon awards go to....

This week's first wooden spoon award goes to L’Occitane for sending this tiny tube of shaving cream in this enormous box with copious quantities of packing.

The second one goes to whoever shipped this tiny black mountain bike accessory – that’s the small black thing on the end, with even more packaging, including lots of bubble wrap. Come on people, I’m sure we can do better. If you are concerned about excess packaging, the best thing you can do is mention it in a product review which many companies now ask for, or to take it up with the company directly. 


See the little black blob at the end? That was what was actually ordered. All the other stuff came with it.

This is what came out of the giant box. It occurs to me that they may be trying to recycle their own packaging waste. If that's the case they should have a word with their suppliers

And the bouquet goes to.......

Image by Anna Armbrust from Pixabay

Baxter’s IGA in Lower Sandy Bay, Tasmania, who recently installed a bulk milk dispensing machine. This means no more plastic bottles unless you bring yours from home. Great innovation. It reminds me of when we used to put the billy out for the milkman at night. I don’t know if other IGAs have them. This is the first one I’ve seen. 


Milk on tap - this machine at the IGA store in Sandy Bay, dispenses milk directly into the customer's container, thereby avoiding the usual plastic jugs, though I understand these can in fact be recycled. As you can see, they sell those too

-Image by Matthew (IGA)


Some companies are now supplying milk in glass bottles too, but the extra weight makes it difficult when going on foot. Same goes for bulk food, though I usually do take my own containers. The little takeaway we sometimes use, especially while I haven’t been able to cook, now uses compostable boxes for the meal but still pops it into a plastic bag so it doesn’t leak.

Subtle Hint: If any of my dutiful children are reading this, a couple of Indian Tiffin tins would be great for Mother’s Day. 

If you want to see more packaging horror stories - Packaging Porn, see below. In the comments section underneath, Molly Leonie reminds me that cosmetics and bathbomb maker Lush, has recyclable packaging such as fabric bandanas, uses tubs made from recycled material and takes its own packaging back, though I haven't seen the facemask offer. 
The German idea of giving store coupons for returned bottles sounds good too, as does Paul Heslop's discount on future purchases on return of his empty containers. One company here introduced a container deposit on its glass mineral water bottles, but I couldn't find a shop that would take them back, even if they sold the product. Shame, since glass and aluminium are among the few packaging options that can be wholly recycled without loss of quality.