In the average supermarket, it can be hard to see the actual food due to all of the packaging involved. While this seems like it’s a problem for people—and depending on what you’re buying and what kind of additives it contains, it very well may be—it’s really a waste issue.
Think about it. The average American generates 300 pounds (136-164 kg) of packaging waste a year just shy of the European average of 364 pounds (164 kg) of waste per person. This makes up about a third of the typical household waste stream, and around 66 percent consists of food packaging alone. All of this packaging requires resources to manufacture and when it’s not recycled, it clogs already overstuffed landfills.
The good news is that we can largely opt out of this packaging waste mess by choosing items like bulk goods. Economy sizes that put the maximum amount of product in a minimum amount of packaging are also a better bet.
Here are some strategies to reduce the amount of food packaging your family consumes:
• Buy foods in bulk (but avoid so-called “bulk specials” that just wastefully bundle together many individual packages). Use reusable containers and bags.
• Choose the biggest size and/or the most concentrated option. These use less packaging on a per-serving basis.
• Leave single-serving and snack-size items on the shelf—these are the most wasteful.
• When it comes to buying packaged items, choose containers and materials that are accepted locally for recycling.
• Look for alternatives to double-packaged items like cereal.
• Skip products that rely on serving tricks involving extra packaging like spray oils.