A small piece of plastic or other non-biodegradable packaging material takes over a thousand years to degrade. That’s a really, really long time. So if you don’t want your future generation to play in gardens full of plastic, instead of flowers and nature, then hear us out on what is zero waste packaging? And why is it so important and worth being a part of!
What is zero waste packaging?
Zero waste packaging does not mean we should completely avoid packaging or packaged products. It simply refers to the option of choosing a material that we can use, reuse, or recycle so that there is no waste generated.
The curse of plastic in packaging
Now, why exactly is plastic packaging harmful to the environment? We might reason that it can be recycled. While it might be possible to do that, in reality, it is most often not the case.
What we once considered a blessing in the packaging industry is now proving to be a curse, thanks to our excess, unchecked use of it. Studies have shown that if plastic consumption continues at this rate, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
Owing to several reasons – financial, educational, and technological, most low-income and developing countries cannot recycle most of the plastic waste generated. Most of it ends up in a landfill, or worse, in oceans.
While several governments like India, the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, France, Australia around the world are trying to establish a solid base for zero waste packaging and alternatives for regular packaging, the problem needs to be addressed at an individual level. We should take responsibility by undertaking zero-waste packaging practices as much as we can.
A recent study by Unilever also found that 53% of shoppers in the UK and 78% in the US say they feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced, that number rises to 88% in India and 85% in both Brazil and Turkey.
How to implement zero waste packaging?
There are many simple yet different ways to make practice zero waste packaging. Let’s go from easy to difficult:
- Use only if necessary
This is the easiest practice in zero waste packaging. Sometimes we don’t even need packaging. So before rushing to get it, stop and ask yourself whether you even need it? Will something else work for carrying it?
For example, if you think you will get just one or two things and can carry them with your hands, then don’t unnecessarily buy a bag or packaging for it.
- Use what you have
Using what we have is the best way to reduce the generation of packaging waste. For instance, use the gift wraps or packaging that you already have at home.
Taking a bag along to run errands and keeping a bag with you or in your car will help reduce your packaging waste footprint.
- Get your Own
Do you also succumb to the guilty pleasure of collecting containers or jars? Don’t just store them! Use them for storing different things like pulses, cereals, chocolate, dried fruits and nuts, household cleaners, and more.
Several stores in the USA, Canada, and the UK thriving towards zero waste packaging now have been asking people to bring along their own bags and jars to collect or store whatever they want to buy.
- Buy in Bulk
If you are mindful of what things you often need, plan and try to get items in bulk by either using reusable bags or containers, it will solve the problem of unnecessary use of packaging.
It is also very important to understand that bulk item do not mean individually wrapped items put together.
- Choose plastic-free
Look for options that are packaged in recyclables, like paper, cardboard, glass or wood, and other reusable materials instead of plastic packaging. And besides this, other compostable packaging materials are good options too.
You can also use leftover cardboard boxes as storage space at home and choose paper or cardboard-packed groceries – this will not only help to reduce waste but will also save your money on unnecessary packaging.
Packaging is also made of glass, aluminum, paper, and mostly plastic, so recycle as much as you can – especially once you understand what is recyclable and what is not.
Before throwing it away, take your time and try to learn about the material. Get help from your friends, elders, recycling facilities, or websites, too!
We might also know this packaging as eco-friendly packaging, environmentally friendly packaging, eco-packaging, an ecological packaging, green packaging, etc.
Sustainable packaging is safe not only for humans but the environment, too. Therefore, before getting or buying anything, ensure that the packaging comes from a sustainable source and manufacturer. Just being a little more mindful of our consumption by practicing zero waste lifestyle choices will go a long way in taking good care of our planet!
Practicing zero waste packaging is a great approach towards sustainability, but it is just a tiny step towards a bigger problem. If we as consumers stop buying harmful packaging and the products in it, it could force manufacturers to stop making it and shift towards more sustainable methods of packaging.