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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Packaging Matters

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director, Urban Sustainability Agent

Did you know that up to one out of every $11 you spend at the store pays for packaging? Also, when all packaging is accounted for, it adds up to about one-third of all the trash that's thrown away in the United States. By shopping carefully you can reduce excess packaging that you would throw away. Packaging protects products from contamination, damage during shipping and provides detailed product information. Some products need packaging that is tamper-evident and child-resistant. But is all packaging necessary?

Manufacturers are responding to pressures to reduce packaging or make a product more "environmentally-friendly," but you still pay for packaging every time you purchase a product. If this concerns you, there are ways you can reduce costs and waste. Not every strategy will fit every lifestyle, but you should be able to find one or more ideas to use from the following suggestions. Keep track of what you save each time by making smart packaging choices when you shop. It may not seem like much at first, but within several months you'll see a difference.

When practical, buy in bulk.
Choose reusable or recyclable packages.
Avoid excessive packaging.
Pay for the product, not the package.

When you shop, you can use strategies to reduce unwanted packaging. You can buy products in large sizes or in bulk quantities. You can select products with packaging that can be recycled or reused. You can purchase products that don't have excessive packaging and get more of the product for the price you pay. And you can "personalize" smart shopping strategies to your own lifestyle and family needs. Shopping with packaging options in mind can make a difference for natural resource conservation and at the check-out counter.

And always remember – take reusable bags to the store! Take the Pledge and be part of the over 500 people in Pinellas County who have pledge to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Click here to make your commitment!

Consumer Choices can Reduce Packaging Waste


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