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Reduce Packaging Waste

Packaging accounts for nearly a third of municipal solid waste in the United States, according to the U.S. EPA. Items including cardboard boxes, fiberboard, all types of plastic, metal and glass containers, and foam perform the key functions of protecting products and providing information for buyers, but are often discarded after a limited time. Some packaging items, especially food ware such as cups, lids, straws, utensils, takeout containers, and bags, often end up as litter where they pollute marine environments, and persist in the environment and in living organisms for much longer than they are in use. Introducing a few simple practices into your lifestyle will improve your packaging footprint and might even save you some money.

Tips for Reducing Packaging Waste:

  1. Carry your own reusable bag, water bottle, coffee cup, straw and utensils.  
  2. Buy in bulk. This will save you money on top of reducing packaging waste.  
  3. Buy loose products, such as fruits and vegetables, instead of pre-packaged packs.
  4. When comparing similar items from two brands, choose the one with less packaging. 
  5. Reuse packaging products, like paper and plastic bags, tins and wrapping paper whenever possible.
    • When you do have packaging, look for the How2Recycle Label, which is a standardized labeling system with clear recycling instructions. 
  6. Find alternatives to buying a new product. Craigslist, Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace all offer plenty of used goods in your neighborhood, and you can also check Freecycle to see if the item is available for free from a neighbor.