Some studies suggest that as much as half of household trash is extraneous packaging. Trash that ends of in landfill produces local pollution and ultimately releases methane, a greenhouse gas.In Sunday’s paper, I write about initiatives in Britain to cut down on excessive or unnecessary packaging on consumer goods. Regulations there now mandate that packaging be held to the minimum needed for “safety, hygiene and consumer acceptance.” Concerned government officials become so serious about tackling the problem that one county, Lincolnshire, began legal proceedings over an overpackaged piece of meat this year.
Since I was writing this article around the holidays, it influenced my own shopping. If two brands offered similar products, I bought the one with less packaging attached. But today, having just hauled a trash bag of various bits of wrapping paper, boxes and protective plastic sleeves down to the basement for recycling and disposal, I thought it might be a good time for some personal and group reflection.
Why did my new running shirt come swathed in tissue paper, placed in a cardboard box and then finished off in wrapping paper? Could those new computer speakers have come in a few less layers of plastic wrap? Or, since I bought them close to home, should I have been able to leave the oversize box at the store?
Just this month one sustainability expert complained about the layers of packaging on Adobe Acrobat X. Computer peripherals are particularly exasperating — layer upon layer of boxes, when sometimes all you are purchasing is a disk or an access code.
Do you have some post-holiday packaging tales to share?