A step in the right direction?

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When I bought an Easter egg for my daughter last year, it came with a lovely Hello Kitty cup – in a plastic tray. This year, I have given her an Easter egg which came in a card basket. No plastic!

My immediate reaction was: phew, looks like the consumer is starting to get through to the manufacturer that there is no need for plastic, at least in the proportion it has previously been used, to package goods. Certainly, there are increasing numbers of people who are not only voicing their concerns about the amount of unnecessary and unrecyclable packaging but actively trying to reduce what they put in landfill.

However, the more recyclable packaging still has an impact on the environment (e.g. because of the energy needed in the process of collection and beyond). The product inside the packaging still has an impact on the environment (e.g. because of the materials needed in its production). The consumer still has an impact on the environment (e.g. because of the energy used to go to the shop to buy the product).

Of course, I am over-the-moon that my daughter’s Easter egg came without plastic this year and I hope that next year, should I buy her an egg again, it too will be without such. In the short term, this is a positive step: showing that life without plastic trays can be a reality. And perhaps increasing numbers of products will be packaged in a less damaging way, following in the wake of the 2013 Easter egg. Yet better packaging in the longer term may not discourage people from buying packaged food. If card is recyclable, what’s the problem? If foil is recyclable, what are the concerns?

Well, as mentioned above, the modern Easter egg still has some cost to the environment. But beyond that, the adaptation to card from plastic is like a dieter using saccharin instead of sugar: it is not altering any behaviours. If I feel that the Easter egg pictured above is acceptable on environmental grounds, I will buy one next year and the year after. And so will most other people.

However, the current situation is no more sustainable in the long run than the one it has replaced. I hope therefore that the plastic tray will become a thing of the past in all food packaging but, in addition, that the cardboard alternative will not stop us from moving towards even greater sustainability as quickly as possible.

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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11 Responses to A step in the right direction?

  1. streepie says:

    The “easter egg” for my daughter consists of a (real) basket (re-used every year) filled with chocolate eggs and a chocolate bunny. She then has to use another basket to hunt for coloured hardboiled eggs πŸ˜‰
    The chocolate eggs do come with quite a bit of packaging, though….

  2. I wish they would bring back paper sack grocery bags and eliminate the plastic grocery bags.

  3. Our family had Eater baskets (of natural material) that were saved and reused every year when I was growing up. I had my own as did the others and it became a treasure full of memories. You have made a step and every bit helps.

  4. bridget says:

    So much talk about peak oil but if they stopped using plastic in packaging it really would save a lot. Bring back paper bags and greaseproof paper I say.

    • Funnily enough, I was thinking of greaseproof paper for meat. I imagine the reason why it tends to be hermetically sealed in thick plastic is because of concerns about food poisoning. However, if you are buying fresh over the counter I am sure there is just as much danger when it is cut and placed in a plastic bag.

  5. Wow great post! It is so true!

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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