As we approach the holiday shopping season and really for any time we are faced with a purchase there is always the opportunity to think about precycling and considering the packaging and production efforts involved when making purchasing decisions.
In some cases, there is not much we can do about how a particular item is packaged. For others, we may have a choice between certain brands and can look a little more closely at each company’s packaging. Many times, it’s simply just a change in how we buy an item. But bottom line, precycling is all about making decisions that will reduce the waste before it even gets into our home or office.
What is involved in the packaging?
- Is it encased in that dreadful hard plastic, clamshell packaging with metal wires and ties?
- Is there anything, like the box that can be recycled once opened?
What was involved in the production of the item?
- Where was it made? Locally, nationally or overseas?
- What do you know of the company’s commitment to sustainability? Are they taking any measures to offset their production efforts and will that impact your purchasing decision. For example, Walmart has developed a packaging scorecard to measure the vendor’s packaging system on the environment. For Patagonia products, you can track the impact from design to delivery via their Footprint Chronicles which outlines not only the pros of the item but the cons as well. Amazon has launched a Frustration-Free Packaging program where they work with manufacturers to box products in a friendlier manner right off the assembly line.
Is there a way to purchase the same item with less packaging and waste?
- It may be convenient to purchase individually wrapped snack items like applesauce or juice boxes not to mention bottled water, or staple items like rice in boil-in-a-bag pouches but think about the waste involved versus buying the larger container or in bulk.
What proactive steps can you take to avoid collecting any unnecessary waste in the first place?
- Move from disposables to reusables by getting in the practice of using water bottles and travel mugs and remembering to bring our own bags to the store. For meals on the run, consider a place-setting-to-go to keep at your desk or in your car and pack waste-free lunches for your kids. Replace with cloth items to reduce paper towel/napkin use.
- Is this something you can buy pre-owned?
- And finally, do you really need it?
The key again is to just become aware and question what you can do differently to achieve the same result with less waste.